What do the Circular Saw, and Disposable Diapers have in common?


Turns out both the circular saw and the waterproof disposable diaper were invented by women. Yep, it’s Women’s History month, and I’m trying to think of how I can write this without complaining - how not to sound resigned.


I said to Amy, wouldn’t it be cool if we didn’t have Black history month, and women’s history month? Or Asian Pacific Islander Month (May), or Latin History month, Sept 15 through October 15. Like what if we just had history? What if we just told the truth?


I understand that each of these months is intended to “honor the contributions” of these populations, but instead doesn’t it make them all sound so … marginalized? So not central to the action? Sort of like at Thanksgiving dinner and the kids get acknowledged for setting the table? It feels to me like a SuperHero sidekick, or the also-rans in a race. It actually feels like setting aside a month to “honor their contributions” really just lends credibility to the white patriarchal history we’ve grown to know and reject.


Worst of all, when you pay any attention to all these ‘reasons’ for setting aside a month for recognition, isn’t it just an outright admission that the ‘contributions’ of these populations are not recognized the other 11 months of the year? Aren’t we saying that their work and efforts are just side lines to REAL history? Argh!


So, I guess I didn’t find a way to achieve my goal of not complaining. Sorry ‘bout that.


I tried to find a source of daily women in history emails a la the 28 Days of Black History, but alas, and unsurprisingly, I couldn’t find one. Instead, I googled women’s history daily and found this interesting list. And from there, I went on to find this cool list of things that women have invented, and I can tell you, this list was inspiring!


Of course this list is incomplete in that many female inventors weren’t able to file a patent under their own names (read: gender), and according to the same article, they also were subject to a more narrow definition of their invention, making the patent less valuable and less long lasting. And, it’s light on POC representation who were no doubt further subjected to anonymity. Nonetheless, I made a list of my favorites, but out of the 50, I had a subset of 23, so I won’t subject you to my entire list of personal faves. But, really, some of these are awesome and some are tragic. Tragic, because some of these inventors never received the recognition or the satisfaction and monetary reward of seeing their inventions get to the manufacturing floor.


The windshield wiper was one tragic invention. Mary Anderson never got to see her invention take off, because the manufacturer said there was no practical application. Clearly, not a man of vision (pun intended).


Probably my favorite on this list is the circular saw, Tabitha Babbitt basically attached a circular blade to her spinning wheel! I wished she’d also coined the phrase Necessity is the mother of invention.


The First Monopoly game was a surprise, until I read that it was intended as a cautionary example of capitalism gone awry and it was actually named The Landlord’s Game. Kevlar is on the list, as is, wait for it...rocket fuel! These are in addition to a whole host of home economic types of inventions like the dishwasher, the electric fridge, a foot pedal trash can, and the car heater.


By far and away, my favorite female inventor has got to be Hedy Lamarr. You may remember her as a gorgeous movie star on the silver screen, but she was also a tinkering inventor with several inventions to her name, most notably collaborating on frequency-hopping spread spectrum communication for torpedo guidance (Wikipedia), which ultimately led to the invention of wireless technology. Thank you, Hedy, for making it possible for me to be typing this right now on my couch, while I monitor my Pixel and listen to my wireless earbuds.


I realize that I’m geeking out on you here, but now, after reading about these women and their inventions, don’t you feel a little less like Bat Girl and more like Wonder Woman? I hope it makes you feel just a little bit more real, and well, center stage.*


I’m thinking I’ll indulge myself in a little Women’s History and watch Bombshell, The Hedy Lamarr Story.


*Just a little postscript re the word marginalized. When I googled the opposite of marginalized I got this list: elevate, praise, value, acclaim, adulate, commend ,compliment, magnify, exalt, extoll. Umm, no. More like centered, status quo.

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