My two daughters, aged 26 and 30, my mom, age 80, me, 61, my friends, young women artists, my two sisters, and the woman who cuts my hair, are the women I pictured when I went out to march in the Women's Rights Rally here last Saturday.
I made a sign out of plastic and duct tape, because it was raining, and I wanted it to hold up as I marched. I closed my store for 2 hours, and carried my camera, umbrella, and my sign. The march was relocated to the basement of the Eagle's Aerie, so I went right over there. Someone driving by waved and honked their horn when they saw my sign as I crossed the street. A woman seated at a card table in the basement aerie was asking people to sign in. Also, it would be $5 for the lunch.
Lunch? Where was the march? I looked around and saw a lot of people I knew, but I was the only one with a sign. Nothing about Women's Rights came into view.
This is the Women's Rights Rally? I asked the woman.
Oh, yes! she said.
The lunch line seemed to be moving slowly, so I sat down with some friends to wait for things to start happening. I talked to the people I was sitting with about the need to finish what we didn't in 1982, when the Equal Rights Amendment hit a deadline Congress had decided on. With only 3 states needed to ratify the amendment, it didn't make it into the Constitution. Right there was our mistake. We gave up. We didn't finish our business.
Now, 30 years later, we have anti-women's legislation proliferating in many States. GOP, all-male congressional panels hold hearings to limit women's access to birth control, or what a woman's doctor may or may not say to her about her reproductive health choices. We have personhood laws which could conceivably make it a crime for a woman to have a late period. Legislation signed into law last month by our present governor (in Wisconsin), makes it more difficult for women, seniors and persons with disabilities to get equal pay for equal work. Our Republican legislators even tried to introduce legislation to make single parenthood a factor of child abuse. Nothing like threatening a single parent (mother) with taking her children away to bring her into line, and not complain about her unequal minimum wage job. Or, to influence women to stay married, though there are many good reasons a woman might choose to leave a marriage (for her safety or the safety of her children, for instance).
Republican Senator Glen Grothman, Wisconsin, who is unmarried and claims no children, said that equal pay for equal work is not such a big issue. He said that not only is there no actual pay gap between the sexes, if there was one it wouldn’t matter anyway. After all, men need money more than women do, since they have families to support. “You could argue that money is more important for men."
How is this not war on women?
If we ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, then all of this legislation to limit women's educational and economic opportunities will be illegal. The Equal Rights Amendment is the giant fly swat to smack down all anti women legislation, whatever direction it comes from. Ratifying ERA would end this erosion of women's rights year by year, whichever way the the political wind blows.
This may be the perfect time to pass the amendment, when people have seen how sex discrimination in Federal and State laws intrudes on the lives of women. Young women, the age of my daughters, who think of birth control mainly as a responsibility, as controversial as allergy medication, and safe, legal abortion as a right, will be a newly politicized group of women. Tammy Baldwin, Congress woman from Wisconsin introduced legislation to restart the ERA process last March. In Wisconsin women make 75¢ to the $1 a man makes, pay inequity that has not changed significantly in the last 30 years. More women have to work for wages now, with narrowed economic and educational options, as they are squeezed out of accessible, affordable health care and birth control, and local access to safe and legal abortion. Planned pregnancy allows a woman to plan for advanced education, or to get a good start on her career. A planned family leads to a peaceful and safe home life.
Back at the Women's Rights march, a sit-down affair commenced with a few speakers. One speaker admitted she had written her speech just that morning, after Googling "Was it Susan Komen, or Susan B Anthony, who tried to cut Planned Parenthood out of the Breast Cancer screening business in the recent controversy?" followed by a stage giggle. Yes, a woman's health professional said that in her prepared speech. She admitted she, much like we, probably hadn't been paying as much attention (she's all about planting her strawberries) as she should have to the subject, though in her medical practice she advises women about their sexual health decisions every day. I wish I could tell you that someone from the audience stood up just then and screamed out loud.
Disheartened, I picked up my sign and left.
I should have gone to Madison. They were having a real protest march over there, with sassy signs, on topic, and energized. One photo of a protesting woman lived a short life on Facebook, last night, until it was expunged this morning. In case you didn't see it, the young woman in the picture was wearing an apron with a drawing of a penis and balls on it. She carried a sign that said, "Does this dick make my rights look bigger?" Now, this is attitude I'm talking about.
Thanks mom. That's a bright sign and I'm sure you'll have plenty of opportunities to wave it. Susan Komen or Susan B Anthony? What an ignoramus.
Yes, these times are distressing and those of us who were part of earlier pushes for equal rights should feel especially sad that we have ended up back here! I think I would like you very much - please don't stop fighting!
Dear Friends, and daughter, thank you. I was scared to press the publish button after I'd written this.
I live in the UK and have four daughters. These issues resonate around the world and I'm equally furious about it and scared for the future. Well done for shouting loud! x
If you were scared to press "publish", that doesn't say much for democracy, does it? Here in Canada, it's much the same wrt women's rights and democracy too for that matter. sad sigh.
I have spent too much time today trying to figure out how to respond to this blog post, only to come up with explanations that are too long and too involved and are too polite in saying what is not exactly I would like to say.
So, bottom line. There is no war on women beyond what has been manufactured in the mind of liberal Democrats who are trying to stir up controversy in order to win the women's vote. Period, end of story.
Frankly, I am sick and tired of in the very least, disingenuous liberals all the way to downright lying liberals trying to tell me on one side of their mouths that I can do whatever I want as long as I work hard but that I am too damn disadvantaged, victimized and dumb to pay for my own birth control out the other side of their mouths. Which is it?
I am tired of cheap shots and downright lies coming from the mouths of people like Hilary Rosen, Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, Planned Parenthood (Sorry but there is not a PP clinic that offers mammograms ANYWHERE that I have found. Referrals don't count.) and the National Organization for Women. Furthermore, I have a hard time taking seriously any mention of women in the US experiencing much the way of real oppression when groups like NOW are virtually silent on the obvious human rights abuses experienced by women in Africa and the middle east.
So, I'll continue teaching my six daughters that there is much more to be concerned about beyond the rights of women that have to do with budgets not being passed and future taxes to be levied against them and the concern of the availability of jobs and loans from China. I'll keep teaching them to pull their own weight and to own their own reproductive choices, including treating sexual activity not as a right, but as a privledge to be shared with another human being. I'll teach them to understand their own power, to revel in it and to not expect people to like it too much when they find it. And lastly, they are learning that the only barriers women really have, are the ones we put up for ourselves. We have the vote, so they need to use their heads, form their own ideas by doing their own studying and not be content to allow others to spoon feed their opinions to them.
There is a reason the ERA has not passed and I for one, fail to see the use for it at this point in history.
And I publish lots of controversial stuff on my blog....except since it's conservative, I don't get the positive strokes that you are with this post.
Go figure. Free speech is just dandy as long as you're liberal minded. I had someone the other day tell me how terrible it felt to go to my blog and read what I wrote.
It is a job to say or write, what we really mean. It takes a lot of time to sort it out. I'm getting to be a little better at it, and writing a blog helps me to keep working on it. Thank you for reading what I wrote with such attention.
I want a conversation, not a fight, with thoughtful people, who do want the best for each other. I especially like to hear women's opinions and voices, women speaking from their own experience about their own priorities. Women are often quiet when they should speak out.
You and I are obviously on different sides of this political discussion, but I am so pleased you took the time to write thoughtfully, and honestly, about women's rights. We both know there is a lot at stake.
I'm so curious to read your "conservative" blog. It may feel like a foreign land to me, but from what you wrote here, I don't expect it will make me feel terrible.
i agree that we (women) don't all agree on plenty of topics. I agree that what is critical is honest, respectful dialogue. I agree that each woman needs to accept responsibility for her own actions. I disagree strongly, however, with statements that women are not currently disadvantaged in our society. Yes, other groups (people of color) are often more disadvantaged than women, there can be no doubt that white men still hold most of the power, and dole it out only as they see fit.
I, too, will go read your blog, wildflower. I'm hoping we can find some points of agreement. I think that's one of the things women are particularly good at.
Ugh! I think the Susan Komen vs. Susan B. Anthony question says allot. I'm 50, and I think that people my age and younger don't remember or know what life was like for women before we won the right to vote or access to birth control. Allot of people take these things for granted and don't realize that they were hard-won by the women that came before us, and that we have a responsibility and a right to protect them and to continue to strive for equality. More people should learn about the "herstory" of the women's movement and Planned Parenthood.
You must attend my friend's annual Susan B celebration. Great gathering of women from different generations who meet annually around the date of SB Anthon'y's birthday to sing songs and raise a glass in her honor.
There's no mistaking which Susan we're honoring!
I really admire you for being able to say what you think about the events happening around us. Your insight is keen and have proved to be extremely observant of your surroundings. Walking around with your eyes and mind open, and then sharing that vision is a wonderful gift to all of us who would like to do the same, but can't quite get it together to record those observations in a public way. Thank you for your honesty and the ability to convey your beliefs in such a rooted and down to earth manner. Don't be afraid to share what's on your mind. It's wonderful to know that there are others who share my outrage at the current turn of events!
Deb, I'd love to raise a glass any time, but especially to my hero, Susan B!
I'm so happy to hear other women have been thinking similar thoughts to mine. And, gratified that some of you read what I write without covering your ears and shrieking.
Facts are facts. The US Constitution excluded women. Women finally won the vote in 1920. On average, women make 77¢ to the $1 of wages men make, unchanged for the past 30 yrs.
The work women have done has been historically unwaged. That is labor that capitalism depends on, because it is so cheap, it's free.
Economic and political gender based discrimination is our history, and is deeply imbedded in the way we think.
To me, the Equal Rights Amendment is the best
and most urgent option.
Beautifully written. It saddens me to see where our nation is headed and foresee very bad times if people don't open their eyes to the "real" issues.
i was sad, too, but I love a good conversation. I believe in talking about everything-- at least it will keep us interested in each other
Thank you for writing this post. It is important to remind everyone of what could be lost if we don't speak up. We have a couple of generations now that don't remember what it was like when we were expected to find a man to support us and/or work a low-wage job, have babies, clean house, try to look pretty, and shut the hell up.
Thank you for your comment. There's not much down side to speaking up. Women are good at keeping quiet. Too good.
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