My daughter is five, and her current list of future jobs is as follows:
- Mail carrier
- Owl mail carrier
- Space vet
Not until 1920 did women have the right to vote in America. Women, it was argued, didn’t want the right to vote. Women, it was said, were weak-willed and would just vote as their husbands did. Women, the argument ran, weren’t even full members of society, and giving them the vote was a ridiculous notion.
Not until 1957 were children of color allowed to be educated alongside their white counterparts. Prior to 1957, children of color were not seen as the equal of white children. Thanks to centuries of systematic racism, many children of color are still not thought of as equal, but are called “thugs,” “hoodlums,” “scary,” and worse. Growing up poor and different is still a fast track to prison.
Not until 1967 were men and women of color allowed to marry outside their own race. Something as basic to humanity as who you are allowed to love was legislated until 1967, and later.
Not until 1973 were women able to get a legal abortion when her life wasn’t at stake.
Not until 1974 were women able to apply for a credit card.
Not until 1978 were women guaranteed they wouldn’t be fired for getting pregnant.
Not until 2015 was it possible for two people of the same gender to legally marry in all 50 states. As late as 2015, something as basic to humanity as who you are allowed to love was legislated.
Women and our allies have gained a lot in the last 100 years. But attitudes towards women and anyone who isn’t a straight, white male (the “default”) are slow to change.
Consider that women’s bodies are still considered communal property. Women, it is still believed, are not to be trusted with their bodies. They will do naughty things. They are best served by having the government control their ability to get health care for their lady bits (which are also naughty, and should never be mentioned). The best thing for these poor cattle-women is that the men who control the government also control their ability to have sexual freedom – something men have enjoyed (har har har) forever. As long as women are fundamentally considered objects or livestock, and, therefore, legislatable, we will never be equal.
Women’s rights is black rights is gay rights is human rights.
At no point in our history has the ruling government made the decision to proactively grant any of these rights. Women and our allies have fought, bit, scraped, scrapped, cussed, cajoled, jarred, raged, and stood up over and over and over again to get these.
And we’re still not equal.
Our daughter’s daughters will adore us, and they’ll sing in grateful chorus, “Well done, sister suffragette!”
In my daughter’s lifetime, I want:
- Her to be constitutionally equal to anyone
- Her to choose from any job she is interested in without fear of intimidation
- Her to see women and our allies proactively stand up for basic human rights
- Her to be paid fairly
- Her to be able to love who she loves
- Her to not be abused for not loving anyone back
- Her to be aware of systematic racism and classism and tirelessly working to combat it
And I want these for my sons, too. And for your children. And for you.