|Living in the Mind's Eye
I Am Reminding You of the True Message, Now You Control It
I believe that the women before us who fought for equality would be shamed to know that their long sacrificing battle is nowadays defined by sex, birth control, and abortion.
Political rhetorical has increasingly regressed to a single-minded erroneous characterization of women’s rights; full circle, defining women once again by their reproduction organs. It was that definition of women that those 19th century Suffragettes fought to change.
Regretfully, in this 21st century, we have waned. We have lost their vision.
It was not abortion that Charlotte Perkins Gilman spoke of when she said, “It is the duty of youth to bring its fresh powers to bear on social progress. Each generation of young people should be to the world like a vast reserve force to a tired army. They should lift the world forward. That is what they are for.”
It was not about birth control that Susan Anthony pleaded to those disenfranchised 19th Century women when she said, “There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers”.
It was not about sex when Pearl S. Buck said, “Let woman out of the home, let man into it, should be the aim of education. The home needs man, and the world outside needs woman.”
Those women believed that they were more than their reproduction organs. I believe those heroines that stood, fought, and sacrificed for women’s equal rights would be dishonored that their fought-for dignities have been redefined by sexual activity.
Define women as women, strong, intelligent human beings, willing, and quite able to succeed on their own merits.
women who benefit greatly from standing with the forces that keep women down.”
Birth control, unprotected sex, and abortion are individual choices not predicated on inequality. Choice, expressed in the wise words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.
Realize this, it has been only 132 years since the United States had to pass a bill requiring ten “men” as witnesses to acknowledge that a woman fought in the military. March 28, 1884, the House of Representatives passed House Bill 5335 validating Sarah Edmonds Seelye service in the Civil War:
“Truth is ofttimes stranger than fiction, and now comes the sequel, Sarah E. Edmonds, now Sarah E. Seelye, alias Franklin Thompson, is now asking this Congress to grant her relief by way of a pension on account of fading health, which she avers had its incurrence and is the sequence of the days and nights she spent in the swamps of the Chickahominy in the days she spent soldiering.
That Franklin Thompson and Mrs. Sarah E.E. Seelye are one and the same person is established by abundance of proof and beyond a doubt. She submits a statement . . . and also the testimony of ten credible witnesses, men of intelligence, holding places of high honor and trust, who positively swear she is the identical Franklin Thompson. . . .”
Up to the 1960’s women were not of legal age of majority until the reached age 21, but men were legal at age 18. In fact, it was only in 1979 did Louisiana overturn the “Master of the Home” law which gave men the right to sell a woman’s property without her permission. The law was challenged in a 1974 lawsuit brought by Joan Feenstra who had bought her home with her own earnings. Without her permission or knowledge, her home was
Florence Nightingale believed as much when she said, “Instead of wishing to see more doctors made by women joining what there are, I wish to see as few doctors, either male or female, as possible. For, mark you, the women have made no improvement they have only tried to be ‘’men’’ and they have only succeeded in being third-rate men.”
It is undeniable that birth control and abortion have always been in the conversation, however, inaccurately, it has come to define women’s rights, and I believe that they, Nan Robertson’s “Girls in the Balcony” fought for rights such as equal pay, equal work conditions, equal opportunity, and respect in the workplace. Those women wanted to do their job, wanted to perform on an equal basis, and fought hard for that right.
Harriet Rabb, who led the fight against Newsweek said about 1964 Civil Rights Act, “this fight opened those doors in the 1970s through which many fortunate and deserving women have followed.”
Those doors opened to identify deserving women as contributing humans on this earth, not vessels, not objects, simply human beings.
Those women thinkers knew it was a revolution to redefine women as human beings rather than by their reproduction organs. Charlotte Perkins Gilman was clear:
“There is no female mind. The brain is not an organ of sex. As well speak of a female liver.”
People, folks, women, men, all have other needs. For every quote on birth control there are dozens for women’s rights in politics, in the work place, medically, socially, and I believe our pioneers would be sadden to know that what they fought for so precariously has become redefined as sex, birth control, and abortion. Catharine MacKinnon was right when she said, “It’s mainly a few elite
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mortgaged by her husband.
Then he ran off.
Feenstra was losing the home for which she had bought working for lower wages than male workers.
The mortgaged was foreclosed.
Feenstra challenged the constitutionality of the statue and won. Another woman, who fought for equality, led Louisiana to change the law to permit equal control.
If 49 years ago you started in the workforce when you were 18 you may have just retired.
Is there one woman among you that feels the fight is over and there is absolute equally?
Know this, if we are talking about this, the fight is not over, and if we let sexual activity control the conversation, we lose.
A woman cannot live in the light of intellect. Society forbids it. Those conventional frivolities, which are called her ‘duties’, forbid it. Her ‘domestic duties’, high-sounding words, which, for the most part, are but bad habits (which she has not the courage to enfranchise herself from, the strength to break through), forbid it.”
The world is put back by the death of every one who has to sacrifice the development of his or her peculiar gifts to conventionality. (Florence Nightingale)
© Janet Goodrich