Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Do you remember Alice Paul?

I've been working on some research on the early twentieth century for a story I'm writing, and while reading up on community property laws, I came across a notation about the Nineteenth Amendment. In case this historical reference has faded in your memory along with the words to the Gilligan's Island theme song, this is the amendment that prohibits restricting voting rights based on gender. The Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote in 1920, by the way, fifty years after all males had been legally granted that privilege. An hour after reading about the struggles of Alice Paul and other women's suffrage leaders, I saw a news clip speculating about Hillary Clinton's probable presidential campaign, and the two items started me thinking. How is it women are still so poorly represented in congress? After the 2012 election, we had seventeen female senators, one of the largest numbers in history, but nowhere near equal. After 100 years (almost) of having the vote, we still don't elect ourselves equal representation. I mean, doesn't it make sense to have the feminine viewpoint represented more strongly in government? Do we women really believe men know better about every issue? Let's face it, when a United States senator refers to women as a "host" to a fetus, or a congressman states women can prevent pregnancy during rape, you have to conclude a female opinion might be needed here and there. Worst of all is how we women do this to ourselves. According to Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D, who wrote Woman's Inhumanity to Woman, we women are sexists. We hold our fellow women to a higher standard, expecting them to dress a certain way, balance their personal and public lives, to be neither too masculine nor too feminine, and on and on. We're half the population. We work and pay taxes. We have good brains. We have our rights, and we ought to use them more effectively. That's my opinion anyway, but then what do I know? I'm only a woman, right?

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