This post was written for young women who haven’t studied history and for those, no longer young, who, in the words of George Santayana, refuse to remember the past and are thus condemned to repeat it.
This post is dedicated to my mother who, as a single parent in the 1950s-1960s, didn’t need to study history to understand the injustices women were (and still are) subjected to.
Democracy, the idea that citizens should elect who governs them, has been around for c. 2,500 years. But for c. 2,400 years, women were not part of that process.
In the Russian Republic, women were given the right to vote in 1917. In New Zealand, this right had already been given to women in 1893. For Germany the year was 1918. But it was only in 1920 with the ratification of the 19th Amendment that women could vote throughout the United States. In theory, Black women had this right, too, although many southern states deprived them of it. It wasn’t until President Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, that discriminatory voting practices were outlawed with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But the battle for women’s equality was far from being over.
Thanks to her determination, Ruth Bader Ginsburg graduated from Cornell and then, in 1956, enrolled at Harvard. Of a class of 500, only 9 were women. Her professors gave her a hard time saying she was taking up the space a man should have. Discrimination didn’t stop her from earning a law degree from Cornell. Despite the fact that she’d tied for first in her class, she had difficulties finding a job.
Eventually, in 1963, Ruth found a job teaching at Rutgers Law School. She was paid less than her male colleagues simply because her husband had a well-paid job. In 1972, Ruth co-founded ACLU’s Women’s Right Project and began strategically fighting against gender discrimination.
Up until the mid-1970s, banks denied married women credit cards in their own names. Single women, for all practical purposes, were not even taken into consideration. Ruth fought and fought hard for gender equality. In 1974, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act finally came into effect prohibiting “discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, or age in credit transactions.”
When you see women on TV series like “Law and Order” sitting on a jury, please note that it took years before women were allowed to do so. It was believed that women were better off at home taking care of chores related to their husband and children. It was also believed that women were not intelligent enough to make rational decisions. Eventually, in 1975, the Supreme Court struck down this ban.
And if a woman who worked for necessity got pregnant (thanks to a male orgasm and not her own), she could immediately lose her job. Fortunately that changed with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.
According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, in Mexico c. 48% of the representation in government is female compared to the United States’ 24% leading me to believe that we need more Adelitas and fewer Karens.
Today Ruth has become a cultural icon best represented by her lace collars. She had quite a collection and wore them according to the cases that were to be heard (she had a special one for dissent). The standard judge’s robe accommodates the male’s shirt and tie. So Ruth, along with Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female Justice on the court, decided not to be masculinized and went for some lace.
Ladies, if you don’t want to dismantle what women before you have struggled to create, stand by your womanhood and don’t be obliterated by some power hungry misogynist. In the words of Ruth “I ask no favour for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.”
Male and female roles should be seen as complimentary and not competitive. To be deprived of our right to contribute to society as ourselves as opposed to a male standardization as to what they think we should be not only harms women but is detrimental to society as a whole.
Sources: Ruth Bader Ginsburg + Black Women Had to Fight for the Right to Vote on Two Fronts + NBA Players Wear Special Lace Collars To Honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg + Ruth Ginsburg’s Collar Wasn’t an Accessory, It Was a Gauntlet + How Vladimir Nabokov Helped Ruth Bader Ginsburg Find Her Voice at Cornell + How Ruth Bader Ginsburg Paved the Way for Women to Get Credit Cards + Women’s rights and their money: a timeline from Cleopatra to Lilly Ledbetter + Despite gains, the US ranks 75th globally in women’s representation in government +
Ginsburg Was Confirmed Years Before the 1996 Election
Born Again Discrimination…GOP Senator introduces bill that could require genital exams for girls competing in school sports, Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s bill to ban transgender girls from school sports is meant to “protect women,” …however, genital check is only for females and not males. I guess this is to protect the boys from showing the size of their penis risking ridicule.