at 50, i claimed my sovereignty in a ceremony among women.
white. privileged. bold. educated. outspoken.
how could i be anything but sovereign?
it’s a funny thing to recognize a lifetime of deceit.
to awaken to a legacy of discrimination.
so pervasive as to go unseen.
until the moment your personal bubble is punctured and you find yourself weeping in the balcony of the Manhattan Center, not in response to the bleak statistic that the young actress shares from the stage:
At the current rate, the elimination of gender inequality will not be possible until 2095.
But in response to her personal story of how she unknowingly became a women’s advocate–at the age of 11– in reaction to this commercial tagline from the 90s:
Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans.
This new UN spokesperson drove home a bias that was punctuated at Commission on the Status of Women that week:
Gender inequality is often dismissed as a cultural issue, while in fact it is form of deep discrimination.
Women make up more than half of the world’s population and potential so it is neither just nor practical for their voices, for OUR voices, to go unheard at the highest levels of decision-making. Women need a seat at the table, they need an invitation to be seated there, and in some cases, where this is not available, they need to create their own table.
i’ve been crying ever since.
i’m sick to my stomach about for all the ways i’ve participated in my own demeaning.
how i tried to be like a man. exempted from the lesser sex. dividing myself. rejecting myself. offering myself as sacrifice.
i am ashamed not only for the ways in which i was complicit but also for the ways in which i was subjugated and said nothing, out of fear or pride or resignation.
women are not equal.
we have never been equal.
Let’s take a look at the past to see how incrementally women’s rights as citizens/as human beings moved forward, and soberingly, backward:
1777: Women lose the right to vote in New York.
1780: Women lose the right to vote in Massachusetts.
1784: Women lose the right to vote in New Hampshire.
1787: The U.S. Constitutional Convention places voting qualifications in the hands of the states. Women in all states except New Jersey lose the right to vote.
1790: The state of New Jersey grants the vote to “all free inhabitants,” including women.
1807: Women lose the right to vote in New Jersey, the last state to revoke the right.
1867: Kansas holds a state referendum on whether to enfranchise women and/or black males. Both are voted down.
1869: The territory of Wyoming is the first to grant unrestricted suffrage to women.
1870: The Utah Territory grants suffrage to women.
1870: The 15th amendment to the U. S. Constitution is adopted. The amendment grants suffrage to former male African-American slaves, but not to women. The amendment, is the first time the constitution uses the word “males” with regard to a counting device for Congressional representation.
1870: Wyoming territory grants its first women suffrage since 1807.
1871: Victoria Woodhull speaks to the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, arguing that women have the right to vote under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but the committee does not agree.
1871: The Anti-Suffrage Society is formed.
1872: A suffrage proposal before the Dakota Territory legislature loses by one vote.
1874: There is a referendum in Michigan on women’s suffrage, but women’s suffrage loses.
1875: Women in Michigan and Minnesota win the right to vote in school elections.
1878: A federal amendment to grant women the right to vote is introduced for the first time by Senator A.A. Sargeant of California.
1880: New York state grants school suffrage to women.
1882: The U.S. House and Senate both appoint committees on women’s suffrage, which both report favorably.
1883: Women in the Washington territory are granted full voting rights.
1884: The U.S. House of Representatives debates women’s suffrage.
1886: The suffrage amendment is defeated two to one in the U.S. Senate.
1887: Women in Utah lose the right to vote.
1887: The Supreme Court strikes down the law that enfranchised women in the Washington territory.
1887: In Kansas, women win the right to vote in municipal elections.
1887: Rhode Island becomes the first eastern state to vote on a women’s suffrage referendum, but it does not pass.
1890: The National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association merge to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Its first president is Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The focus turns to working at the state level. Wyoming grants general women suffrage.
1890: A suffrage campaign loses in South Dakota.
1894: Despite 600,000 signatures, a petition for women suffrage is ignored in New York.
1895: The New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage begins.
1896: Idaho grants women suffrage.
1902: The men of New Hampshire vote down a women’s suffrage referendum.
1906: Elizabeth Cady Stanton‘s daughter, Harriot Stanton Blatch, returns from England and disapproves of the National American Woman Suffrage Association‘s conservatism. She responds by forming the Equality League of Self Supporting Women, to reach out to the working class.
1910: Washington grants women the right to vote.
1911: California grants women suffrage.
1911: In New York City, 3,000 people march for women suffrage.
1912: Arizona grants women suffrage.
1912: Kansas grants women suffrage.
1912: Alaska’s territorial legislature grants women suffrage.
1913: Alice Paul organizes the women’s suffrage parade on the eve of Wilson’s inauguration. It is the largest suffrage parade to date and consists of 10,000 people marching down Fifth Avenue in New York City on May 10. The parade is attacked by a mob. Hundreds of women are injured, but no arrests are made.
1913: The Alaskan Territory grants women suffrage.
1913: Illinois grants municipal and presidential but not state suffrage to women.
1913: The Senate votes on a women suffrage amendment, but it does not pass.
1914: Nevada grants women suffrage.
1914: Montana grants women suffrage.
1915: Anna Howard Shaw‘s tactical conservatism culminates in a loss of support from the National American Woman Suffrage Association members. She resigns and Carrie Chapman Catt replaces her as president.
1916: Woodrow Wilson promises that the Democratic Party Platform will endorse women suffrage.
1917: Beginning in January, the National Women’s Party posts silent “Sentinels of Liberty,” also known as the Silent Sentinels, at the White House. The National Women’s Party is the first group to picket the White House. In June, the arrests begin. Nearly 500 women are arrested, and 168 women serve jail time.
1917: The U.S. enters W.W.I. Under the leadership of Carrie Chapman Catt, the National American Woman Suffrage Association aligns itself with the war effort in order to gain support for women’s suffrage.
1917: Arkansas grants women the right to vote in primary, but not general elections.
1917: Indiana grants women presidential suffrage.
1917: Nebraska grants women presidential suffrage.
1917: North Dakota grants women presidential suffrage.
1917: Michigan grants women presidential suffrage.
1917: Rhode Island grants women presidential suffrage.
1917: The Oklahoma state constitution grants women suffrage.
1917: The South Dakota state constitution grants women suffrage.
1918: The jailed suffragists are released from prison. An appellate court rules all the arrests were illegal.
1918: The Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which eventually granted women suffrage, passes the U.S. House with exactly a two-thirds vote but loses by two votes in the Senate. Jeannette Rankin opened debate on it in the House, and President Wilson addressed the Senate in support of it.
1918: President Wilson declares his support for women suffrage.
1919: Michigan grants women full suffrage.
1919: Oklahoma grants women full suffrage.
1919: South Dakota grants women full suffrage.
1920: The Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, stating, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
But this is tiring. This is the past. So let’s fast-forward 100 years shall we…
Are you blind?