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Women’s History Month: Some Stuff Just Isn’t True

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 27: Actress Jane Fonda attends The Gillette Leading Man Cam at unite4:humanity presented by unite4:good and Variety and sponsored by Gillette on February 27, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for Gillette)

March is Women’s History Month and I hold a special place in my heart for all women. I’m lucky enough to have been married to a great one for over 30 years. But there are some myths out there that seem to continually make the rounds that put some women in a bad light. So I thought I’d take some time during this special month to clear the air on a few misconceptions.

Bra Burning Feminists During The 60s

During the sixties news footage of young men burning their draft cards were everywhere. During a protest of the 1968 Miss America Pageant members of the feminist movement took the opportunity to toss bras, girdles, nylons and other restrictive clothing in a trashcan on the sidewalk outside the event. Their objective was to show that the women taking part in the pageant where considered objects not as themselves. As far as any one knows there was no fire or burning of these garments at this event.

On September 8, 1968 the New York Times reported a “symbolic” bra burning that took place. However, promoters of that event felt that an open fire could be dangerous to both participants and bystanders so no fire was present.

Betsy Ross and The American Flag

The story we all learned in school was that Betsy Ross was commissioned to create the first American flag. Did that really happen? Most historians doubt the story but it remains in popular historic folklore. The story of Betsy Ross first came to light in a story told by her grandson several years after her death.

There are a few reasons why the story had “legs” as we say in the news business.

  • Francis Hopkinson is usually credited with the design of the flag because there is record of a lawsuit for payment of the design on record in the Treasury. However, the story of Betsy Ross is much more romantic than a small claims court decision. When the truth and legend conflict go with the legend.
  • The image of the flag was not lost of marketing and advertising moguls of the day. A woman with a flag was a much more sellable image to the patriotic populous.
  • We had “Founding Fathers” why not a “founding mother” as well. She was a widow, twice, making it on her own raising her children and supporting herself as a seamstress. And, she was a good businesswoman who was savvy at buying and managing land.

Jane Fonda

As a Vietnam vet there is no love lost between Jane Fonda and myself. Most of us remember the picture of her sitting on the tank surrounded by doting North Vietnamese soldiers. As despicable as that was to those of us who lost friends and family during that conflict, some of Jane’s antics are flat out untrue.

When Barbara Walters decided to honor “100 Women of the Century” during an ABC broadcast on April 30, 1999, and chose to include Jane Fonda, the uproar was reignited.

An email began circulating that some POW’s had passed some secret notes to her during a press conference meeting and that she turned those notes over to the Vietnamese soldiers causing torture and death so some of the men involved. Again historians and POW’s have debunked this story as totally untrue.

Documented accounts do show that she participated in a 1972-staged press conference with American POW’s forced to be there. This conference was to show that American prisoners were being treated humanely. When the real story of treatment was revealed after the war Fonda remarked they were “hypocrites and liars.” During this trip she posed for photos with Communist troops and took to the Radio Hanoi for some anti-American propaganda. Some years later she did give a formal apology calling here actions “thoughtless” and “careless.”

Some Final Thoughts

The old cigarette commercial has certainly come true, “You’ve Come A LONG Way Baby.” Hewlett-Packard, Xerox, Yahoo, DuPont, General Dynamics, Avon, and Campbell’s Soup all have women CEO’s calling the shots.

In 2016 we might be looking at the first woman president depending on the results of the primaries. We’ve had women in space, women in wars, and women in the Indianapolis 500. Women deserve a month of their own for all they do for us in the home and workplace. Who’s that special woman you’d like to show some appreciation to this month?

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