March is Women’s History Month and celebrations of female empowerment kick off with International Women’s Day on March 8. New York City is rife with history made by trailblazing women and events to honor their legacies.
While marching, donating, and volunteering are all vital ways to support the women’s movement, it is also important to reflect on the accomplishments of the past, appreciate women’s artistic endeavors and simply listen to their stories. Here are 10 unconventional ways to celebrate Women’s History Month this March:
1. Tour a Graveyard
NYC Parks Service is offering an abundance of events throughout the parks system that celebrate Women’s History Month. One of the most unique activities on the schedule is an Urban Park Ranger guided tour through Gravesend Cemetery in Brooklyn. The tour of Gravesend, a cemetery that was founded in 1643, will focus on the life of Lady Deborah Moody and other famous interments. Moody was a wealthy English widow who came to the colonies and founded the town of Gravesend, Brooklyn, and in doing so, became the first women in the New World to receive a land patent and the first person to write a town charter in English in New Netherland. You can find monuments to Ms. Moody throughout the town.
The tour of this historic cemetery will take place on Sunday March 18 from 11am to 12:30pm. Registration is required. To register, please visit nyc.gov/parks/rangers/register.
2. Join a Feminist Book Club
Book clubs are a great way to discover writing you may not pick up on your own from authors you wouldn’t ordinarily read. Astoria Bookshop is helping readers broaden their literary horizons with a feminist book club taking place at the end of March. The club aims to focus “on an intersectional exploration of women’s rights and status worldwide.” This month, the selected book is The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani. This title is available for purchase at the bookshop at 10% off all month long.
The Astoria Bookshop Feminist Bookclub will meet on Saturday, March 24 at 1pm at the bookshop, which is also hosting a Women’s History Month open mic event on March 8 from 7pm to 8pm. To inquire about the group, you can email Jen at [email protected]. You can also find more female-centric book clubs on Meetup.com, and if you prefer to read on your own, check out the selection of books on feminism, queer and gender studies, and other subjects at the volunteer-run Bluestockings Bookstore, Activist Center and Fair-Trade Cafe or at the newly open Cafe Con Libros in Crown Heights.
3. Eat Ice Cream
The Tipsy Scoop Ice Cream Barlour is fighting the gender wage gap with liquor infused ice cream. On Thursday, March 8, International Women’s Day, the first 50 women to visit the “barlour” will get 80 cent scoops of ice-cream, while men will have to pay the full price of $4.90. Tipsy founder, Melissa Tavss, told amNewYork that she wanted to draw attention to the 20% wage gap between men and women and offer her female clientele an extra treat. According to the New York City Department of Small Business Services, men own 1.5 times the number of businesses as women in New York City, but the number of female entrepreneurs, like Melissa Tavss, is growing and their business are generating billions in sales.
This Thursday, raise a scoop of vanilla bean bourbon or strawberry white sangria sorbet for all the lady bosses and give your patronage to small businesses owned by women!You must be 21 or older and show valid I.D. in order to purchase the discounted ice cream.
4. Attend a Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon
In museums across the county, women are gathering to re-write history. This month, as part of a five year campaign by Art+Feminism, New York City museums are hosting Wikipedia Edit-a-Thons where participants (of any gender) learn how to become Wikipedia editors and use the site to amplify and highlight the stories/voices of cis and transgender women. Since 2014, Art+Feminism has organized over 500 events across six continents and improved thousands of Wikipedia pages for artists like Tina Charlie, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Ana Mendieta, Augusta Savage, and Frances Stark.
This March, locations in the city including The Jewish Museum, Museum of the City of New York, and Bard Graduate Center will hosts Edit-a-Thons. These events continue into February and take place all over New York State. To find a location near you, visit Art+Feminism’s event page.
5. See A Handmaid’s Tale the Musical
New York based comedians Marcia Belsky and Melissa Stokoski have taken Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, and Hulu’s award winning series, A Handmaid’s Tale and turned into a musical parody. The play, which opened to sold out audiences at Union Hall in January and will be performed at The Bell House this month, is set in 2027 Brooklyn and “depicts modern millennials in a dystopian near future and the perils they endure.”
Stokoski and Belsky call the genre of their adaptation “dystopian camp.” The two writers also star in the play, Belsky as Offred (Elisabeth Moss’s character in the show) and Stokoski as Ofglen (Alexis Bledel). By setting the story in a recognizable place with familiar circumstances and characters, and by adding a happy ending, Stokoski and Belsky make A Handmaid’s Tale lighter and more cathartic than the book and series. Showtime is March 8 at 8p.m. Tickets can be purchased here or at the door.
6. Take a Badass Bitches Tour of the MET
Museum Hack is known for its unconventional tours of museums across the country from the Un-Highlights tour of the De Young Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco to Drag Tours of The Art Institute in Chicago. Now, the company is hacking the patriarchy with its new Badass Bitches Tour of New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. On this tour, guests will learn about the women who are represented at the museum and hear stories about those who aren’t, raising the awareness of women in art and history who may not have gotten the recognition and notoriety they deserved. You can expect this two hour tour to be full of interactive games, compelling stories, and lots of girl power.
Tours fill up quickly so grab tickets here. You can also find special exhibits honoring Women’s History Month in other museums like the New York Historical Society and Museum of the City of New York, as well as special exhibits featuring art created exclusively by women.
7. Take a Scenic Hike
New York City parks are calling attention to the importance of women in the history of park creation and preservation. On March 10, Urban Park Rangers will lead guests on a tour of High Rock Park in Staten Island and explain how Gretta Moulton helped save the 300 acres of woods and wetlands from development in the 1960s. The thousands of hikers, students, joggers, dogs walkers, and naturalists who enjoy High Rock Park today have Ms. Moulton, a Trustee of the Staten Island Institute of the Arts and Sciences and the Founder of the Friends of High Rock Park, to thank for saving this popular part of the Greenbelt.
The guided walk is free and will take place on Saturday, March 10 from 11am–12:30 p.m. Visit the NYC Parks website for more details. You can also learn more about women like Gretta Moulton and their impact on New York City parks here.
8. Learn How to Defend Yourself
The Chinese Hawaiian Kenpo Academy NYC in the East Village has been offering free self defense classes, or “SMASH! Class,” to New York City women for the past 20 years. The classes teach proper punching and kicking techniques as well as techniques for taking down an attacker. Sifu Jack, a former bodyguard, US Marine, and competitive martial artist, teaches the class and shares the defense knowledge he has gained throughout the years.
Women 14 and older are invited to attend as many times as they like. The class is free, but the Academy asks that participants make a one-time donation to the school by purchasing a CHKA t-shirt for $25. Classes are offered every Tuesday & Thursday, 7pm – 8:30pm
9. Listen to a Story
Photograph by Dennis Cahlo, Courtesy of Caveat
Due in large part to the momentum of the Times Up and #MeToo Movements, more and more women are speaking up and there are a lot of ways to listen. Generation Women is an “intimate female literary salon that brings together women of all ages” to tell their stories, and have their stories heard. Each month, six women, one in her 20s, her 30s, her 40s, her 50s, her 60s, and 70s+, read an original piece on a specific theme.
The theme for March is “My Sliding Door Moment,” a moment that changed your life forever. Storytellers include Alyssa Coscarelli-Senior, fashion market editor at Refinery29, Azita Ardakani, Founder at Lovesocial and Partner at Honeycomb Portfolio, Leyla Martinez, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance Fellow at NYC Office of the Mayor, Julie Klam a novelist, and Marcia Butler a former professional Oboist and author. You can get tickets for Generation Women’s March 26 show at Caveat here.
10. Attend a Jazz Festival
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Image courtesy Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture/NYPL.
The Schomburg Center for Black Research will host its Annual Women’s Jazz Festival this year on March 5, 12, and 19. This yearly festival showcases some of the best female jazz performers and highlights the influence of women on the evolution of jazz, a seemingly male dominated field. The festival kicks off with a special tribute to jazz pianist, organist, harpist, singer, composer, and swamini, Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda, the wife of saxophonist John Coltrane. The final night will include a talk with scholars, artists, and archivists on the legacy of women in jazz. Tickets for the festival are on sale through Eventbrite.