Thursday, July 28, 2016

Yes, it IS a big deal!

When Hillary Clinton became the first woman to be nominated by a major political party for the office of President, I let out a small gasp.  It actually happened.  To be honest, I didn't think it would happen in my lifetime.

And then the internet lit up with comments.  For most of the women who commented, this was a proud and happy moment.  But then ... the other comments started coming in, too.  And I paid attention.  Most of those comments were made by men.

"She's playing the female card!"
"So she's the first ... so what?"
There were more I will not repeat ... but my favorite:

"I don't know why, but the hussies think this is a big deal."

Yes, it IS a big deal.  Here are just a few dates from history that should set the record straight:

1776 - Women were not mentioned in the Declaration of Independence
1787 - Women were not mentioned in the United States Constitution.
As late as 1867 -  married women in several states couldn't own property. A decision of the Supreme Court of Illinois in Cole v. Van Riper noted that "It is simply impossible that a married woman should be able to control and enjoy her property ..."
It took until 1869 - for any kind of women's voting rights ...the territory of Wyoming passed the first women's suffrage law. The following year, women began serving on juries in that territory.
1916 -  Margaret Sanger opened the first U.S. birth-control clinic in Brooklyn, N.Y.  The clinic was shut down ten days later and Sanger was arrested. 
It wasn't until 1920 -  that 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote, was signed into law.
1936 -  The federal law prohibiting the dissemination of contraceptive information through the mail was modified and birth control information was no longer classified as obscene. 
1960 -  The Food and Drug Administration approved birth control pills ... but it wasn't legal for everyone to use them.
1963 - Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, making it illegal for employers to pay a woman less than what a man would receive for the same job.  Unfortunately, many employers didn't get the message - and still don't.
It wasn't until 1965 - that the Supreme Court struck down the last state law prohibiting the use of contraceptives by married couples.
1972 -  The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. It reads: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." The amendment died in 1982 when it failed to achieve ratification by a minimum of 38 states.
1972 -  The Supreme Court ruled that unmarried people can use contraceptives through the right to privacy.
1972 -  Title IX of the Education Amendments banned sex discrimination in schools.
1973 -  The Supreme Court established a woman's right to safe and legal abortion, overriding the anti-abortion laws of many states.
It wasn't until 1974 - that the Equal Credit Opportunity Act was passed,  prohibiting discrimination in consumer credit practices on the basis of sex, race, marital status, religion, national origin, age, or receipt of public assistance.
1976 -  The first marital rape law was enacted.  Nebraska enacted the law making it illegal for a husband to rape his wife.
1994 -  The Violence Against Women Act tightened federal penalties for sex offenders, funds services for victims of rape and domestic violence, and provides for special training of police officers.
 It wasn't until 2016 - that women were allowed to serve in any job (including combat) in the armed services, provided they meet gender neutral performance standards.  Never mind the fact that women have always been, in some capacity, in combat situations ... and many have died.

So, please ... how long did it take before women were granted the right to vote ... or use birth control ... or have some control over her own body ... or have the opportunity to participate in athletic competition just like men ... or serve her country in any role for which she qualifies?  

I'm one of those women who couldn't even get a library card in 1973 with my own name on it!  My card had my then-husband's name on it with "Mrs." in front of the name!  I remember telling the woman at the desk, "He's not going to check out or read the books.  He won't be bringing them back.  I will."  Didn't matter - I was a married woman who, basically, had no legal identity of my own.

This is no big deal?  No big deal?  Entertainer Elizabeth Banks said this at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia:   "We're half the population ... we're everywhere ... and we matter!"

Yes, we do.  And it matters that a woman has finally been nominated for President by a major political party.  There have been other women in our history who most certainly could have done the job, but our society knocked them down every time. I don't have a crystal ball so I don't know if Hillary Clinton will win the election, but her name will be right there! Trust me ... it IS a big deal.

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