I wrote the guest submission back in September 2014 for an amazing site. I was so scared. I had never put my thoughts to paper like that, what if people left me mean comments? What is NOBODY read it (EEEKKKK)? I decided screw all that and submitted the article below. I just re-read it before posting and I’m still extremely proud.
Women’s Rights in America…..we’re not done yet.
What is feminism? According to Wikipedia it is “a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment.”
I won’t lie, until very recently I have not paid much attention to women’s rights and what it should mean to me. I never struggled for feel equal to a man and I grew up being told I could do whatever a man could do by a single mother playing the role of mother and father. I witnessed firsthand that a woman can and will do whatever it takes to raise a family and that failure cannot be an option.
You could say I started to worry about women’s rights more when I realized I didn’t make as much money as my male counterpart. I know that might seem lame, like “oh geez now she cares and it’s all about the money”, but I have to care about money. I am the “bread-winner” in my household. If I don’t make enough I can’t support my family and that is NOT an option. I was shocked and surprised that I was working my 40 hour a week job, doing my best to be an exceptional employee, and the person in the cube next to me was making more strictly because of gender. There was no difference in seniority even though I felt like I worked harder and took on more responsibility. In my mind equal work deserves equal pay but the reality is that society hasn’t caught up with that concept yet.
What really hurts is that some women don’t think women deserve equal pay. Take Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). In 2013 she voted against the Equal Pay Act because “ We have existing laws — Title VII, um, Lilly Ledbetter, all those existing protections in place — that, I believe, enforce and provide that people doing equal jobs are, certainly in this country, should receive equal pay. So, uh, that bill, in my view, didn’t add — in fact I think it created a lot of additional burdens that would have been hard, um, to make it more difficult for job creators to create jobs. . . . The reason that I voted against that specific bill is that, I looked at it, and there were already existing laws that need to be enforced and can be enforced and I didn’t feel like adding that layer was going to help us better get at the equal pay issue.” For the record, repeating yourself twice doesn’t make your statement true.
Equal pay is just a small aspect of why women are losing ground when it comes to women’s rights. In the US only 18.5% of our Congress is made up of women and only 18.2% hold a seat in the House of Representatives. What is wrong with this picture? How can women be equal when we aren’t equally represented in our nation’s capital? (source: http://www.nwpc.org/statistics )
We need a louder voice! In this generation of social media it can be easier to send your voice as far as it can go, so why aren’t we?
I watched a PBS special called Makers: Women Who Make America. I was so very proud and sad at the same time. I was proud that women all over the country decided enough was enough and that we had a human right to decide our own lives. That as a woman in the 21st century I could choose to focus on a career or a family or both. I was not restricted because I was the property of my father or husband. I was sad because even after all the hard fought battles we are losing ground. Our reproductive rights are being decided by a male majority, family planning budgets have been chopped across the nation, and we are once again being seen a sexual objects and nothing else.
When did we as women in the country decide that the rights that the women in the 20th century fought so hard to garner were good enough? When will we decide to burn our bras and say again NO MORE?