What YOU have to say about equal rights—live-blog #1
Today is International Women’s Day, and we’ve asked you to blog about your thoughts about equal rights. Here’s what some of you are saying:
This painting was commissioned for the private enjoyment of a very powerful man, himself an architect of a society where women’s sexuality was so sinful that it needed to be repressed. The repression of female sexuality which has formed the basis of our morality for centuries, ensured that this painting could only be commissioned, or viewed, as an expression of something shameful and hidden . . .
When Mary Richardson, a young militant suffragette, slashed the painting in 1914, while it hung in the national gallery (in her own words, she had ‘tried to destroy the picture of the most beautiful woman in mythological history as a protest against the Government for destroying Mrs.Pankhurst, who is the most beautiful character in modern history‘)- the British public were outraged.
When I vote in the upcoming general election, I do so because women like Mary Richardson were willing to stand up and be counted. And when I see this painting by Velazquez, I know that the ‘ideas’ that women like Mary Richardson fought for, are not new.
At AAUW Dialog, Holly talks about a woman named Irena Sendler who helped to mobilize a change in the fight for equal rights during World War II:
Born in 1910, Sendler was a 29-year-old Polish social worker when the Nazis invaded her country. She lived in Warsaw, and when Nazis forced Jews in the area to live in a ghetto, Sendler and her colleagues smuggled in much-needed food and medicine. As social workers, they had legal access to the ghetto and visited it as often as they could.Realizing the imminent death sentence that children in the ghetto faced, Sendler decided smuggle them out — in gunnysacks, potato sacks, and coffins and by burying them inside loads of goods. Many people helped her, including a mechanic who smuggled one infant out in his toolbox. They disguised the identities of the children and hid them in convents, orphanages, and private homes. When Sendler asked, no one refused to house a child . . .
Sendler died in 2008. Her legacy lives on today through the 2,500 children she saved and their descendents and through the Irena Sendler Project and a new film, In the Name of Their Mothers: The Story of Irena Sendler.
For International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, I share her story to help write her contributions to society back into history and to help inspire everyone to always stand up for human dignity and human rights.
For me, equal rights means equal economic rights — equal pay, the ability to have a decent standard of living, affordable and accessible health care, including contraception and abortion. However, it DOESN’T mean a marketing opportunity to sell stuff to the “ladies”.
For those of us in the United States, “equal rights” is an idea we as a country hardly think twice about. It’s practically the very basis of our country. It is assumed: If you live here, you have equal rights.
Equal rights, however, don’t exist for many people in this country. Not only are women (legally!) underpaid, they are underrepresented in government and management, for all kind of reasons. Not having enough women in government and management positions makes it harder to get and enforce equal rights. (Not that every woman in government/management works for equal rights.) Women have been underpaid in this country for decades, and still are. Why? Well, why not? What incentive does the male-majority government have to pass and enforce laws prohibiting the practice? (Oh, I know! I know! Women making equal wages benefits the entire country. Something some men in government either refuse to recognize, or don’t care about.) We are making progress on this issue, but it has taken years, and we still aren’t even close — 77 cents on the dollar. Women are also (legally!) discriminated against when health insurance companies charge them more for insurance, just because of their gender. Women in our government have stood in front of the entire country and discussed these issues, and sometimes it seems like the only people who care are some women and a handful of men. Not even all women. Just some. I don’t know if “women are second class” is so ingrained in collective minds that people can’t see the problem, or if they just don’t care. Either way, neither of these things are acceptable in a true “equal rights” society . . .
My point in discussing the United States’ “equal rights” is to show that even a country who claims to have them, doesn’t. But worldwide, progress is being made, even if it is sometimes in the smallest of ways. Maybe some day there won’t be a need for International Women’s Day (or Women’s History Month, for that matter). Let’s hope so.
As you can see from the responses above, there are different meanings of “equal rights for all.” We’ll be back very soon to blog more about what you have to say! And don’t forget to tweet your answers with the hashtag #BlogforIWD.
See you in a few . . .