What leading feminists hope to accomplish in 2015


By Ruth Tam January 2

In 2014, modern feminism faced more scrutiny than ever before. But women writers and activists could not be silenced. In discussions about campus sexual assault, street and online harassment and race, women dominated the streets and the Twittersphere. From the creators of #BlackLivesMatter to a MacArthur genius fighting for women’s labor rights, we asked 16 of the year’s most influential voices for what they hope to accomplish in 2015.


‘So Popular’
host | @JanetMock

My hope is that feminist, racial justice, reproductive rights and LGBT movements build a coalition that centers on the lives of women who lead intersectional lives and too often fall in between the cracks of these narrow mission statements.

 

 

 

 

Lux Alptraum, 32 | BinderCon co-founder | @luxalptraum

I’d love to see publications make a greater effort to include the voices of women, gender non-conforming people, and people of color – and put programs and policies in place that will help to level the playing field.

 

 

 

Leigh Stein, 30 | BinderCon co-founder | @rhymeswithbee

I would like to see less digital dualism, which perpetuates the fallacy that online harassment isn’t “real” harassment when in fact so many women writers face threats just for doing their job -writing- on the Internet.

 

 

Ai-jen Poo, 40 | National Domestic Workers Alliance director, Caring Across Generations co-director, created #dwdignity, #caringamerica, #womentogether | @aijenpoo

I would like to see the creation of 2 million new, living wage ($15 or more) caregiving jobs, and more affordable options for quality care for working families, particularly in light of the numbers of women in the workforce and the rapidly growing older population in America.

 


Elizabeth Nyamayaro, 40 | Senior Advisor to Executive Director of UN Women, heads HeForShe campaign | @e_nyamayaro

We have an amazing opportunity with @heforshe for one half of humanity (men) to join in solidarity with the other half of humanity (women) in creating a shared vision of gender equality that benefits all of humanity.


Jessica Pierce, 29 |  Black Youth Project 100 National Co-Chair | @JFierce

I hope that 2015 brings a focus on turning the anger and frustration around the issues of police brutality and violence against black people in this country into concrete policy changes being led by the diversity of leaders I’ve seen and continue to see in the 2014 actions. We want to convene the table of change, not have a seat at it.


Charlene Carruthers, 29 |  Black Youth Project 100 National Coordinator | @CharleneCac

I hope to see a continued resurgence of young Black people owning their power to end police and domestic violence. 2015 will be a year of fresh ideas mixing with tried and true organizing tactics in the tradition of leaders like Ella Baker.

 


Lindy West, 32 | Writer, performer, I Believe You | It’s Not Your Faultfounder and editor  | @thelindywest

I want to see Twitter, Facebook and YouTube set up coherent standards and effective block/report tools to protect users from abuse, and hate speech–particularly rape victims being harassed and doxxed for speaking out about their rapes.

Mikki Kendall, 38 | HoodFeminism.com co-editor, created#solidarityisforwhitewomen#fasttailedgirls#NotJustHello @karnythia

I want to see a mass realization that police brutality is a feminist issue and for mainstream feminist organizations to help change those policies.


Feminista Jones, 35 | Social Worker, writer, activist, created #YouOKSisand #NMOS14 | @FeministaJones

In 2015, I’d love to see more representation of women of color in sociopolitical actions, and I’m doing my part by organizing a Women’s Freedom March centering on women of color and our stories.

 

Mia McKenzie, 38 | Award-Winning Writer, Black Girl Dangerous founder | @blackgirldanger

I want to see queer and trans people of color with radical social and political analyses dominate independent media by creating and growing our own platforms, so we can centralize and control our own narratives.

 

Alexandra Brodsky, 24  | Know Your IX founding co-director;Feministing.com editor; The Feminist Utopia Project co-editor, Yale Law School student | @azbrodsky

I hope we can channel the energy around campus gender-based violence toward creating more options outside the criminal justice system for all survivors, not only students.

 

Patrisse Cullors, 31 | Dignity and Power Now executive director, co-created #BlackLivesMatter | @osope

In 2015 I hope for a movement that is fighting for ALL black lives, and that allows for the stories of ALL black women to be in the forefront of our fight.

 


Alicia Garza, 33 |  National Domestic Workers Alliance Special Projects Director, co-created #BlackLivesMatter @aliciagarza@blklivesmatter

My 2015 resolution is to make sure that black women, especially black queer and trans women, are playing a strong leadership role in the growing movement for black lives and black liberation–because black women are the portals to the future, we can do a lot to shape a new economy and a new democracy for all of us.

 

Opal Tometi, 30 | Black Alliance for Just Immigration Executive Director, Co-Founder http://www.blacklivesmatter.com, co-created #BlackLivesMatter,#reunitehaitianfamsblackimmigration.netreunitehaitianfamilies.com |@opalayo

In 2015 I want to see our communities continue to rise up to challenge the criminalization of our people. At the national and local level my organization BAJI and the national network we coordinate, the Black Immigration Network, will be campaigning to end mass incarceration, detention and deportation.


Brianna Spacekat Wu, 35 | Giant Spacekat head of development |@spacekatgal

In 2015, I want fewer speeches about supporting women in games and more concrete action – it’s time to open up gamedev to the rest of us.

 

The is the time for all of the feminists in the world to accept the challenge to demand ensure equality for all human beings and the end of women and children having to live in fear and violence. Let’s make 2015 the year for justice for minorities and children.

Ending the Year with Peace


 

 

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It is officially New Year’s Eve. I am wishing all of us and all of the world a 2015 filled with light, love and peace for all. May Justice reign and suffering end. Thank you all for following me and reading me these past 2 1/2 years. It may be virtual but your friendship is a joy and a pleasure in my life. You have enriched my heart and soul and I am grateful. Your friend and a really good hugger, Barbara

Never Stop Making the World a Better Place


To have peace we also have to have equality for all peoples, nations, religions and cultures. We do need to address the racism which remains here in America and all over the world.  Women’s and girls’ rights are being denied many places across the world. They are an invisible minority. Women are being beaten, terrorized, even executed. Many females are treated with contempt and violence.

 

We find that the violence against women is perpetuated by fellow citizens. There are laws to protect women but they are not always enforced. Often authorities look the other way. It is a woman after all.

 

Women are often denied opportunities for education and work. Women wanting a better life can’t protect themselves from violence and harm. They also can’t protect their children.

 

Leadership, by definition, means being out in front of your people when it is called for. It means standing up for your dignity and the dignity of others. It also means encouraging others to do the same.

 

Human rights mean that all people are treated like human beings. It means being able to stand up as a woman, a radical, religious, tribal or ethnic minority and being treated the same way as everyone else. Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.

 

We need to recognize the gains we have made as women as well as the gaps where women and girls can fall through. We then need to focus on the gaps and filling them logically. Social media has improved things somewhat. But we have 200,000 million fewer women with access to the internet than men who are online in the developing world.

 

“I have loved and been loved; all the rest is background music.”   —Hilary Clinton

 

To everyone who has worked as an advocate or feminist, you can’t rest on your laurels. Never quit. Never stop working to make the world a better place for all of us to live and thrive. We have unfinished business and we must go forward until all human beings enjoy human rights and full equality.

 

Since the time of our founding fathers, we have had to work on equality and human rights for all. The founding fathers began our country as a great experiment. They had a dream and they created America from that dream. There were many people who predicted our demise as a nation. George Washington, the father of our country was criticized as being a mediocre surveyor with a bad set of wooden teeth.

 

People who have bet against America have found themselves to be surprised and dumbfounded. The one issue which caused much debate and angry words was, as it is now, equality between the races. The founding fathers finally agreed to disagree. They crafted America and left future generations to come to terms with the question of equality. This job fell upon the shoulders of Abraham Lincoln. He was assassinated and therefore his plans were not implemented. After the Civil War, there was no slavery but there also was not any equality except for a very few.

 

These days women are not equal. Black citizens and white citizens are not equal. Middle Eastern people are not equal since 9-11. Poverty has increased here in America as well as around the world. The future brings opportunities to learn our lessons and heed the call of history. We need to make  human rights a priority. America needs to stand together firmly and united in pursuit of a more just, free and peaceful world.

 

“It ‘s supposed to be hard…The hard is what makes it great.”   —Excerpted from A League of Their Own.

 

We need leaders who will lead in a way that will unite us all and renew the American Dream.

 

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5 Things You Need to Know About Women and the Economy


In this world there is much going on. A great deal of what is happening is terrifying and horrific. But there are good events happening too. The following report is evidence of positive changes. Employment for women is up as the report shows. This is good. Employment is up for everyone. There still needs to be more economic growth but we are gaining because of President Obama’s initiatives.

 

While more women are working, we still do not earn equal wages for equal work. It is important that gender not control the wages we earn. We must continue to push for equitable earning for all Americans, non-gender based wages.

 

I don’t want to take attention away from ISIL, and the beheadings and western people who feel marginalized enough to turn to barbaric acts to gain attention and money. But as we look at the big picture, we need also to keep our eyes on what is happening here in the United States. We need to pull Americans out of the status of being working poor. We need to prevent women and children from ending up as working poor due to the death of the primary male provider or to divorce or to there being only minimum  wage jobs available  to women.

 

We need equitable wages for the same work and it is important with the mid-term elections coming up, that while we continue to look at the big picture, we need to make life better for the citizens of America. Women are not second class citizens, just as African Americans are not second class citizens. Equality is for everyone. We can’t lose faith and give up, we must continue to work for equality for every American. We need to be the world leaders we say we are. I guess, you can say we need to walk our talk. I am good with that, are you?  Then go out and vote in November. Make it a priority in November. Vote early by mail if you maybe too busy in November. Vote. Have a say in what is happening in our country.

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Originally posted at whitehouse.gov/blog

Today’s employment report underscores the fact that the economy is continuing to recover, and employment is continuing to increase. Women have shared in these gains, with female employment increasing by 4.1 million jobs in the last 54 months, and the fraction of discouraged workers and workers experiencing long-term unemployment continues to fall. Across industries, women’s employment gains look relatively similar to previous periods of strong employment growth. To further support the economy, and to ensure the workplace works for the 21st century economy, the President is encouraging Congress to act and using his own executive action to support policies that support a fair workplace for all workers — including women.

KEY POINTS ABOUT WOMEN AND THE ECONOMY

1. Women’s nonfarm employment has increased by 3.8 million jobs over the last 54 months, and 1.2 million in the last 12 months alone. Women’s employment tends to be less cyclical than men’s, largely because women are less likely to work in industries where employment greatly fluctuates with the business cycle. The recent recession followed that pattern, and women lost far fewer jobs than men. Between December 2007 and February 2010 women lost 2.7 million jobs, while men lost 6.1 million. However, the unusual declines in state and local government during the recovery — a loss of 744,000 jobs between August 2008 and January 2013 were particularly tough for women who lost 65 percent of those jobs. Over the past year state and local government employment has stabilized and begun to recover adding back 123,000 jobs since January 2013. Since February 2010, women and men have recouped 4.1 and 5.9 million private sector jobs, respectively. This has raised the share of private sector workers who are women from 46.9 percent prior to the recession to 47.9 percent this past August.

2. Across multiple measures, women’s unemployment has declined. As employment has increased since 2010, the unemployment rate has also fallen. The female unemployment rate currently stands at 6.1 percent, the same as for the population as a whole, down from its peak of 9.0 percent in November 2010. The short-term unemployment rate (the fraction of the labor force unemployed for 26 weeks or less) has fallen to its pre-recession average, and while the long-term unemployment rate remains elevated, it has fallen considerably in the past year after more than quadrupling during the recession and its aftermath. Broader measures of labor force attachment also show a marked improvement. For example, averaging across the past 12 months, 0.4 percent of the female labor force is discouraged from seeking work, down from a high of 0.6 percent in early 2011. The share of people marginally attached to the labor force, or discouraged from working, or unemployed has averaged 8.3 percent this past year on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, down from 10.5 percent in early 2011.

3. In the recovery, women’s job gains have been concentrated in education and health services, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality.During this recovery, many of the job gains have been similar between men and women, although men have gained more construction and manufacturing jobs, and women have gained more education and health services jobs. However, these patterns are not completely unexpected: women have traditionally held more than three-quarters of education and health services jobs, and about one-eighth of construction and less than one-third of manufacturing jobs. The last time the economy added jobs for 54 consecutive months was from November 1996 to April 2001. In general, women’s employment over the most recent period is similar to the previous period across most industries, although there are some notable differences. For example, compared to the previous period, employment growth has been slightly weaker in financial activities, construction, and information services. In contrast, women have gained some manufacturing jobs, while between 1996 and 2001, female employment in manufacturing fell by approximately 200,000 workers.

4. This month, women’s employment growth in manufacturing was particularly strong compared to performance since 2010. In other industries, women’s employment was within the range of the previous 54 months. This month’s employment growth was relatively weak in transportation and other services, and mirroring overall trends, women lost about 1,000 jobs in retail trade. Employment growth for women was particularly above average in construction and information services, and on a seasonally-adjusted basis, women gained more manufacturing jobs this month than at time since July 2000. Like the overall labor market, the pattern of female job growth across industries in August was slightly more divergent from recent trends than earlier this year.

5. Young women are increasingly staying in school, more than off-setting the decline in labor force participation among young women. Fewer young women are neither working nor studying compared to previous generations. Since students, even if they are working part-time, are not considered part of the labor force, only looking at participation rates misses the fact that more and more women are obtaining an undergraduate or graduate education.  Since the mid-1990s, women have accounted for the majority of postsecondary students, meaning that they will account for the majority of our skilled labor force in the future. At the same time that young women are staying in school, however, both men and women are working longer: more than one-third of women 55 and older are working today, compared to less than one-quarter 20 years ago.

Betsey Stevenson is a member of the Council of Economic Advisers.
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                                                      Equal pay for equal work for all American citizens.
                                                   Equal pay for equal work for all American women.
                                                      Ladies, get out and vote in November!
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The Women’s Revolution


Gloria Steinem was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom last November. It is America’s highest honor for a civilian. Her work on behalf of women in the areas of equality and empowerment were the reasons for this prominent award. In her acceptance speech, she spoke about what remains to be done for women. She declared that there are still goals which need to be met. Ms. Steinem discussed equal valuing of women’s work, ending violence against women, recognizing reproductive freedom as a basic human right, and uprooting racism and sexism. This is a hefty list of goals. Comments of the GOP flow through my mind and I realize the enormity of this undertaking.

 

We also have some myths about feminism that we need to straighten out. One is that this movement, also called women’s liberation. womanism, mujerista, GRRLS, is only for white middle-class women. This is not true. I have black women friends who are feminists and women with less money, who are on fixed incomes and are involved with stopping this War on Women. A poll was conducted in 1972 by Louis Harris and Associates that revealed black women were almost twice as likely as white women to support these issues. Now I read Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique and became committed to the issues. Black women read Shirley Chisholm, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and Maya Angelou.  These women  inspired the dream in black women. The idea that feminism was designed only for white middle-class claim was invented to turn off women. It negated their need for change.

 

The second myth is that those of us who worked, protested, marched, demonstrated, and lobbied in the 70’s and beyond have accomplished all that can be done for women. Young women felt that our work was done. Women could now relax.

 

The reality is, we still have much to do. We need to be legally equal. We are the only citizens who are not legally equal. Once we survived the backlash against equality, we still need to work to be socially and legally equal. President Obama has signed an equal pay for equal work legislation. While this was huge and we are grateful, women still do not receive equal pay for equal work. Please note we do not want more pay than men earn for the same work, we just want equitable pay.

 

We are also dealing with the fact that many women and children in the work are living in violent situations. Women are still being battered at about every nine seconds. I repeat, every nine seconds. Battering can be mental,emotional or physical abuse. Physical abuse can include slapping, kicking , pinching, punching, pulling hair, punching where clothes will cover the evidence. Being pushed and shoved is battering. Being threatened with a knife or gun is abuse. The numbers of women and children who are living in violence is staggering.

 

In the modern world, most other democratic nations have more women in government positions than America. It is still unusual for American women to be elected. The United States is a modern democracy, and yet, almost alone among such nations, we don’t have some form of a national child-care system. The average cost of child care here has surpassed the average cost of college tuition. If this continues, people will have to have less children in order to give them a chance in life.

 

A woman’s ability to decide when and whether to bear a child is not a “social issue”. It is a human right, like the right to free speech For the female half of the world reproductive freedom is the biggest economic issue. Women who have children to raise, are less likely to get hired and and to be well paid. Nothing else is going to be equal until men spend as much time performing child care as women do.

 

As women, we often raise our girls the same as we do our sons. We seldom raise our sons the same as our daughters. To allow a son to play with “girl toys” or to go “girl things” like helping to clean or care for younger children, takes a lot of courage.

 

Being a woman today take a great deal of courage.  There is a book out called Sex and World Peace, which proves that the biggest indicator of whether a country is violent within itself, or will use military violence against another country, is not poverty, natural resources, or even a countries’ degree of democracy. It is violence against women.

 

Only if each of us has a torch will there be enough light to create World Peace.

 

 

 

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Motivation

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Domestic Violence Stats

Domestic Violence Stats

The Perfect Storm


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In the sixties, there was a perfect storm of hatred and violence and passionate pacifism. Folk singers like Peter, Paul and Mary, Pete Seger and Joan Baez sang the songs that started the fire that crossed America to get the Vietnam War ended. Hearts were set afire with music, poetry, sit-ins and marches. We watched the boys we knew going off to the war. There was a draft and I can remember sitting at the dinner table and listening for the numbers to be selected. You knew the numbers of your family and friends. The silence that would envelope a family when a son’s number was called was so opaque you could cut it with a knife. In addition to this being held like a human sacrifice by a Pagan world, some of these men fled and went to Canada. Very few returned, even when all was forgiven.

 

Thanks to President John Kennedy and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. whites and blacks moved together to bring his dream of equality to reality. Since the Civil War, the South had promoted and enforced strict segregation. This included separate restrooms, sitting in different parts of busses and not allowing interracial marriage. The very brave black youth who shared Rev. King’s dream began to protest and white Northern kids went South to help them. People lost their lives. The KKK lynched many young black men. The cowards who hid under white sheets were big shots when no one knew who they were. Many deaths were accomplished by the hand of the KKK.

 

In the seventies, my adoptive family lived in a small back water town in Indiana. They were the only Jewish family and there was one Black family. One night both families awoke to crosses burning on their front yards. The Klan had left its business card.

 

Women also participated in all of the changes going on in America. Rosa Parks got on a bus and instead of taking a seat in the back where black people were supposed to ride, she sat in the front of the bus. She was dragged off the bus and arrested but she is a heroine of the Civil Rights Movement. Feminists were out front and speaking up against the war and loudly demanding our civil rights. Women, make $.77 for every $1.00 a man made. We didn’t want to lose jobs if we had a child. Maternity leave was a subject that many businesses used as a reason not to hire women.

 

Women were being beaten by husbands and boyfriends, according to the FBI at a rate of one woman every eleven seconds. I worked hard with other women in my home town to begin a Domestic Violence shelter for women. We wanted to give them a safe place to go. We were a group of Jewish, Protestant and Catholic women who bought an old rotted dingy house with the help of the Sisters of Mercy. A penny was buried in the tree lawn and the Sisters prayed for the money to come to help the women in our community. Today, this shelter still exists and has over a yearly budget of over a half million dollars. But I remember the early days when we literally risked our lives for these woman and I would do it again.

 

Voting rights, economic rights and education are still not equal or just fifty years after the Civil Rights Act was passed. I thought that America had begun to change and we would just continue to move in the direction of fairness and justice. I was wrong. Very wrong. I didn’t realize until our President Obama was elected that the closet held more than homosexual people. It held people who still feel that human beings are not equal because of the color of their skin. This is such a travesty and must be corrected. We are one people who live with hearts beating as one despite color, education, who they love. We need to care as much for the babies who are born and need to be taken care of as we do for a woman’s right to decide what happens with her body. I saw a bumper sticker today on a car that said, “Save the whales, kill the children.”

 

The rich feel that their money gives them more rights than anyone else and it is getting worse every year. Is this a new situation? Not at all. It goes back very far in our history. During the Civil War, President Lincoln instituted a draft to have enough men to save the Union and free the slaves. The rich families were allowed to pay for their beloved sons not to have to go to war. So most soldiers were poor or middle class. They weren’t worth as much because their families had less money. Please don’t think that the rich looking down at the other 98% of our country. People need to select sides not parties. This mid-term election coming up is going to make it necessary for us to stand up and speak out. I encourage everyone do so and fight for justice in your particular country. As is often repeated,         ” If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”

Speak UP


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So often in life, we give others advice. Some of it is solicited and some not so much. Advice often comes in a small package of two words: “Speak Up”. I have even said it on my blog. I have been told to speak up, but usually, by the time some one tells me to, I already have.

So why are we discussing it today? I will explain. There are not many times when women have stood up and spoken. Since we were little girls, we were taught to be “ladies” and to stay clean and don’t be too loud. Actually, these admonitions have been around for centuries. The words were packaged differently but the ultimate meaning was the same.

By the 1800’s, many women had had it with  the second class, stay-in-the-kitchen-and-keep-having-babies mentality that surrounded them. Women were treated like birds in a cage. They were to look beautiful and be charming and witty.

Long before the 1800’s, there was domestic violence in America.  The Pilgrims brought it with them, and it came over with immigrants from England, and Scotland and Ireland and Germany — from everywhere, really, because it was at that time the norm to beat your wife.  The first laws of this brand new country called America were based on English jurisprudence.  It was considered legal to beat your wife, for correctional purposes, so long as you used nothing thicker than your thumb.  It could be metal, but not thicker than your thumb.

In the 1800’s, as I have written about many times in the past, the Suffragettes came together and began to hold meetings because they wanted to be able to Vote.  The men felt this was extremely funny,  I have read diaries from women written in that time, talking about how hard it was to be woman living with a man who felt you were too stupid to know which candidate to vote for.  Here job was to have the children, raise the children, feed the family, clothe the family (all with the man’s money) and, often, take care of the livestock and help in the fields.  For more well-to-do married couples, there were servants to do many of these chores, but the only activity left for a woman was needlepoint, pianoforte, reading, and of course, being charming and witty.

Even after the end of the American Civil War and Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, the black man was free but black women were in the same position as white women or Asian women or any other women.  They were not allowed to vote; they were not equal citizens even to a greater extent than the black man was not an equal citizen.

Suzanne B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized the women who lived in and around Seneca Falls, NY, and decided that they wanted the right to vote.  They also put out a newspaper that referred to women’s issues of the time, which helped to prove that they had the intelligence to vote, as they had a higher level of literacy than many of the male voting public.  Oh, and they found a way to use their own money to support all these efforts, not the money of the men in their lives, taking in washing and doing mending and other “womanly” chores to support their Women’s Cause.  These ground-breaking women also get credit for women being allowed to wear trousers, called bloomers at the time; they got rid of corsets, which these women (rightly) believed to be bad for the health of women who wore them; corsets were a major reason for women “swooning” all over America and Europe because they simply could not get enough oxygen and passed out as a result.

If you are interested in more information about the Suffragettes and how they got women the Vote in America, I would suggest the book Founding Sisters and the Nineteenth Amendment by Eleanor Clift, one of the many books available on the subject at your local library, bookstore (brick or online) and e-reader source.

You also may refer to one of the several blogs I have written on the subject of Suffrage for additional resources and information.

In the 1960’s and 70’s, women began to Speak Up again.  A feminist woman named Betty Friedan wrote a book called The Feminine Mystique.  As women across America read this book, more and more of them found that the book reflected their inner most secret feelings about being a woman — that basically, it was not a really great deal.  Women’s place had stayed in the home, except during World War II, when they were sent to the factories to make war planes and ammunition when the men were sent to fight.  Many women found this to be a heady experience of independence, being able to earn money on their own for the first time and to work outside the home.  When the War ended, and the GIs came home to return to their jobs, women were sent back to the kitchen.

A lot of women who had tasted independence in the 1940’s had daughters in the 1960’s to whom they expressed their discontent at being still trapped in the home.

In the 50’s and 60’s women still wore a strand of white pearls, white gloves, a hat and a dress that was below the knee.  When I was in high school in the 60’s the teachers measured the lengths of our skirts and if they weren’t long enough, you were sent home.  In public school.

As the women began to deal with their discontent and the feeling that their minds were withering inside their skulls, small groups began to pop up across the nation, in every state; groups of women only, where women could talk about their experiences, how hard it was to have a college education and never be allowed to use it.  They wanted more.

This was the beginnings of the last Women’s Movement.  Women were not called Suffragettes this time.  This time, they — we — were called Women’s Libbers or Feminazis, bitches or even lesbians because that, to men, was the worst thing you could say to a woman.

It was during this period of time that we were able to finally get Domestic Violence on the books as a crime which carried a fine and often a jail sentence.  Shelters were opened across the country to help victims of domestic violence and, copying the successful Underground Railroad that, a century before, had moved black slaves to safety in the north, a new Underground Railroad was created to move women and their children to places where they can live in safety without fear of being found and further victimized by their abuser.

Traditional laws based on the British jurisprudence that our founding fathers adopted was no longer an acceptable defence for beating your wife or girlfriend, or sister or mother.

Rape Crisis centers were opened in the 70’s and women were trained as counselors in Domestic Violence and Rape.  Women began returning to college and we began to stand up for our reproductive rights, something that never was addressed by the 19th century Suffragettes, even though Elizabeth Cady Stanton had 11 children.

We are now facing a time in the 21st century when an American woman is beaten every 9 seconds.  Rape is on the rise and, once again, men are trying to blame the woman for his inability to “control his passions”, forcing him to rape her, when in actuality rape has nothing to do with sex:  it is an act of power and control.

So, women in this country can vote.  We have places to go when we are afraid and in danger from our domestic partners.  Think how many years it that has taken.

Now the men want to take away our ability to control our own bodies and our own reproductive systems.  They want to control their own sexuality (often through artificial means) as well as ours.

Last but not least, is the fact that women of any color who are citizens of the United States of America are not legally equal.  If you think that begin legally equal is not of vital importance, ask the next black man you meet.  Despite an increase in racism in our country, at least on paper, black men are equal.  It is only women who are full citizens, often college educated, running businesses, teaching in Ivy League colleges, going into space, working to find a cure for cancer, who are not, in the eyes of the law, equal.

Once again, we women have our work cut out for us.  And once again, I will say Speak Up.  You can bring about changes.  Writing, emailing, Twittering your Senators and Congressman, and the White House — these are all ways that you can Speak Up, even when your life is crazy and there are not enough hours in the day.

Do it in memory of your mothers; do it for your sisters; do it for your daughters and your granddaughters.

Let’s make Congress give us Legal Equality this time.

Speak Up.  Settle for nothing less.

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Betty Freidan, author of the Feminine Mystique

Betty Freidan, author of the Feminine Mystique

Alice Walker, feminist and author

Alice Walker, feminist and author

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Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the first ladies who was a feminist

Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the first ladies who was a feminist

Equality for women

Equality for women

Quote by Desmond Tutu

Quote by Desmond Tutu

 

 

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