My teenage years were in the 90’s. A strange time for women. There were mixed messages everywhere. One one hand, we were taught that women could be whatever they wanted to be: sexy, smart, stay-at-home moms, business women, farmers, etc. One the other hand, there was an undercurrent of disrespect and mistrust. Most often women distrusting or disrespecting other women. The competition can seem fierce for the best man or the best job or the best education, so in all of the messages that sang our praises, there were messages that told us to beware of one another.
I cast off this feeling many years ago, but I remember it and recognize it in others. I have many female friends who have a limited amount of female friends because of these very reasons. For as much as we may salivate over friendships like the ones we’ve seen in Sex and the City and The Golden Girls, few of us can put down the sword long enough to let other women in. Many of us are too busy competing and comparing and do not want someone else to see what is behind the curtain. I found that putting my curtain down and allowing my female friends to take a top shelf in my life has been one of the best things I have ever done.
Due to these enlightenments, these next few posts will deal with and highlight strong (sometimes famous) women. These are women who I have learned about recently and who showed remarkable strength in the face of adversity. Perhaps this will awaken you to the possibility of allowing your female friends and acquaintances more of a role in your life.
Deborah Sampson Garrett disguised herself as a man to fight in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. For seventeen months of her life, she masqueraded as Robert Shurtliff until she was wounded and honorably discharged. What amazes me most is the fact that this woman was surrounded by a society that did not support a woman in combat, but she rose above this stereotype to claim her place in history. There is a part in all of us that can guide us to that type of strength if we dare to see it.
At 5′ 7″ she supposedly had little trouble dressing and looking the part of a man, and even dug a musket ball out of her own leg with a pen knife to avoid detection and then she continued fighting. Eventually, she came down with a fever and was treated by a doctor who also kept her secret, but she was discharged soon after with a note of advice and some money.
After her time in the army, she fought to get her soldier’s pension from the government for her time spent in combat. She won that fight also. The General Court of Massachusetts verified her service and wrote the following: “[Sampson] exhibited an extraordinary instance of female heroism by discharging the duties of a faithful and gallant soldier, and at the same time preserving the virtue and chastity of her sex unsuspected and unblemished.”
To all of the women who serve our country with gallantry and bravery…I hold you in the highest regard. Thank you.