What about the Women?

Let's look back through history to those who have kept this whole thing going.

Melissa Olson

2/8/20232 min read

My favorite show on television is Finding Your Roots. It is a magnificent look back at the ancestors who made it possible for a modern day person to be here. I feel it is our duty to find out as much as we can about what our ancestors have experienced because their tenacity is the only reason we exist.

As much as I love this show, I find myself frustrated sometimes by the lens through which history is viewed. The focus of most stories of how people survived everything life threw at them is usually on the men. The men are often seen as heroic because they were off fighting wars or surviving some sort of slaughter that was initiated by other men. History is so often focused on the brutality that is involved in men's quest for more land, more power, and free labor to build their fortunes. But we are not here because men took part in these practices. We are here because the women gave birth to children in unthinkable conditions and then kept those children alive when all odds were against doing just that. When hearing the history of our people we will often hear about how the men died but not how the women and children survived.

The winner is not the person who won the war. The winner is the person who was able to keep their children alive so that they could grow up and create the next generation. If not for the women keeping their children alive - each and every family line would have ended generations ago.

We are here today because we come from a long chain of women who achieved the almost unthinkable. They put the existence and welfare of their offspring above all other concerns. They often did this on their own, as the men's focus was elsewhere. They often had to do this without any man around to help.

I want to know those stories. How did they manage to give birth with little to no assistance? How did they take meager provisions and keep everyone alive? How did they prepare and preserve food to insure they would survive brutal winters? How did they nurse everyone back to health when healthcare was not accessible? How did they put together a life after losing their husbands? So many of our ancestors had to patch together a way forward when there were no formal safety nets available to them. How, on earth, did they do the impossible?

Women need to tell their stories, and women need to understand that they are the true heroes in our ancestral links. They did the undervalued work that kept their offspring alive. They are the reason we are here.