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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day. I'm not sure when it became a special day to look at women's accomplishments, I'm sure it was probably back in the 70's when the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment was strong. I remember much of that time. I remember women marching in the streets on both sides of the argument. I couldn't understand why anyone would march against people having equal rights. Any people anywhere. I know that some argued that it was unnecessary that the Constitution protected the rights of all. Others said that the fact that it specified that all "men" are created equal was simple proof of the need for the amendment.

I remember one woman in particular that was fighting against it. I don't remember her name, I do remember her being older and wearing very high collars. She was adamantly apposed to the ERA as it came to be widely known. She was not one saying that it was unnecessary because it was just wording. She wanted to keep women at home and in the kitchen. This baffled me at the time. The way I saw it this woman was out and working and not at home taking care of her family but wanted to make sure that other women didn't have the same choice. She was the dictionary definition of the word hypocrite. She was out doing exactly what she wanted to do, but no other woman should be allowed that choice. She and her cronies at the time did find a way to defeat the ERA, but she did not defeat the movement.

I look back, I had choices my mother would have never had, my daughters have even more choices then I. It is not a perfect world this is true. Women are still given a hard time in male dominated fields. But women are in these fields. I remember very vividly thinking that men were doctors and women were nurses as a child. Even when my oldest child was born 26 years ago there was still that expectation. It was getting much better, there were many women doctors by then. However, I had bought my daughter a doctors kit for Christmas, and a play tool set. I though they were wonderful gifts. My in laws, they asked me why didn't I get her a nurse's kit. I was shocked to say the least. They actually thought my choice of a doctor's kit was wrong, to the point that they went out and bought Valerie a nurse's kit to have at their house. We as a people have advanced.

That was the generation that they grew up in. They truly thought I was wronging my daughter by letting her think she could be a doctor. Our children and grandchildren know they have choices now. If a woman wants to be a doctor, there is no reason that she can not reach that goal. On the flip side if a man wants to be a nurse, he can also do that. Unfortunately there is still a stigma chasing him down. It is not a "you can't do that" it is an "why do you want to do that" stigma. The fight for equal rights wasn't just about women, it benefited men as well. There are more men in traditionally women's fields then ever. It is still more of a shock to see a male nurse then a female doctor though. I'm not sure if that is a plus for women or a negative for men.

I sometimes worry about the fact that so much emphasis has been put on girls in the schools. There is so much worry about girls math scores, girls science scores, to which I am not apposed. If the emphasis on girls scores comes at the expense of the boys scores, then I worry. Equality can not be gained at the expense of another  group. Especially when that group is still in school. Isn't there a way to lift both groups with out leaving one behind?

Our country has come very far in the reach for equality among the genders. Again, it is not a perfect world, but it has come along. We can chose to become what we would like to be in most cases. There is still a long way to go, sure, but the ground work has definitely been put down and is becoming more stable with each year that passes. In this country.

Other countries, especially in the developing world, women are not so lucky. Not only are they denied the right to choose a profession, they are denied the right to schooling and even thinking for themselves. They have no rights. They can't own property. Their children can be stolen from them if the father decides he wants a new wife. The are mutilated as children so that they will not enjoy sex, so that they are less likely to sleep with anyone but their husbands. They can be stoned to death for anything that men in their lives decide they have done wrong. Due process is a far away dream. I don't know how to help these women. They are in  male dominated societies, they have no hope for the future.

We as a country forget about these women most of the time. We go on with our lives and maybe think about them once in a while when there is something on the news. We gasp in horror about the stories we hear. But we feel helpless, it is so far away.



If you are like me and live in a loving household, be thankful and let your loved ones know how much you love them.

We live in a country full of possibilities. Let's remember those without.

3 comments:

  1. So i found out, this year was the 100th anniversary of International Women's day, guess I was off by about 40 years, Oh well I know now

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  2. such a good post!

    it's sad that not even we as a western society has come further than we have, in the 21st centruy as far as equality is concerned, salaries, stay-at-home-parenting, general influence in politics and society etc. but the situation in countries where religious and cultural traditions still oppress women like they do, that is scary, ungraspable, inexcusable, upsetting and heartbreaking.

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  3. I agree, even we have a long way to go, but some still live in practically prehistoric times. It is so.... well there is no word for it.

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