Friday, August 26, 2011

Women's Equality Day

I received an email from the Feminist Majority Foundation bringing today's historical context into light.

August 26th is the anniversary of the 19th Amendment passing (ratified on August 18th, Secretary of State Colby certified the ratification on the 26th, 1920), granting women the right to vote.  Take a few moments, look at the numbers, they only solidify why feminism was and still is so greatly needed: 18 other Amendments were passed before women even got the right to vote and women haven't even had the right to vote for 100 years!  August is also the anniversary of the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington.  
In April 2004, I drove down to D.C. with one of my best friends Emily for the March For Women's Lives!  On the NOW site, under the Why You Should March section it reads:

On April 25, we must tell the world that women's health and lives are truly on the line. We need your help to make this march a wake up call to every person who does not realize that reproductive rights are in danger. We must demonstrate the depth and diversity of our support. Your presence will ensure that our voices are louder, our numbers are larger and our resolve is stronger. With your participation, the March for Women's Lives will prove that we are a force to be reckoned with and will launch a powerful new campaign to protect our rights on every front. 

 We are Marching for Women's Lives to demand political and social justice for women and girls regardless of their age, race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, economic status, sexual orientation or ability. This March is for young and older women, straight women and lesbians, sons and fathers, able and disabled, rich and poor—to stand side by side in a show of unity and determination.
We are prepared to protect our right to abortion, birth control and all reproductive health services, as well as our right to have children and plan our own families without government interference. We will never go back to the days before Roe v. Wade when women died from illegal abortions.
Marches can make a difference. The March for Women's Lives will be a galvanizing event at a critical time in our nation. This may be the day we all look back on and say, "That's when we turned the corner toward winning full reproductive rights for all women." 
Susan Sarandon by:
Hillary Clinton, Source unknown
It was so powerful to walk among so many fighting for equality, fighting for not only our own health, but the health and well being of our daughters and those to come after us.  To hear strong, assertive, intelligent women speak out about important issues.  I thought about the women who had come before me, who had lived through and fought difficulties I hope to never know in my lifetime and I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the courage it took and continues to take to stand up for what is right.  To see women and men of all ages coalesce was a moment in my life I will forever cherish and am glad to be a part of history. 

Yet now, in 2011, women are still faced with many of our rights being threatened, cut, or eliminated altogether through policies on all levels from local, to state, to federal.  Here is a list of the Top Ten Historic Advances for Women Now at Risk.

At the poker game I was in the other night a friend started ranting. Did he know the weight of his comments and how ignorant he sounded?  I've never been one to sit quietly while sexist or racist comments are exchanged and I wasn't going to start then.  Too sensitive?  Maybe about some things, but not when it comes to sexism and racism.  I refuse to idly sit back and listen to women-bashing.

His commentary went something like this...So, when I was watching Mad Men I was thinking how much better life was before women got more rights.

And while he went on, I was gearing up for my rebuttal, which went something like this...would you sit in a room of black people and make racist comments so flippantly and expect them to agree with you, boastfully exclaiming, life was better when you all were slaves and knew your place?!

And while he laughed and realized no, he most certainly wouldn't, he went on to quickly say that his resentment toward women goes way back and that he loves me.  Don't say you love me and then talk about how the world would be better if women didn't have the rights that men do. Women are still viewed as second-class citizens based on our sex; the proof is in Top Ten Historic Advances for Women Now at Risk.

It continues to be extremely important for women to get out and vote in 2012!  But there are things we, feminists, men and women alike, can do on a day to day basis, and it starts with respect.

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