If nothing else, America is an idealistic nation. We are dreamers and fighters, we do not give up because we are told no.
We are also a nation that can be hypocritical.
August 18th is the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. In the nearly 100 years since the ratification of the 19th amendment, American women (and women across the world) have achieved what our grandmothers and great-grandmothers could have only dreamed of.
But with every battle that we have won, there is still much more work that is required of us if there is to be true equality between the sexes.
I would have liked very much to use the term “Madam President” this year. But there will be no women in either party on the ticket come this fall.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton’s loss to you know who was heartbreaking. This year, we had brilliant and capable women who might have done a bang up job as President. Senators Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar had all of the qualities one would want in a President.
Of all of the female nominees, Senator Elizabeth Warren came the closest. Some in the press are arguing that it was sexism that ultimately doomed her campaign. I can’t disagree with their arguments, even if she was not my first choice for President.
Though it is indisputable that these women will forever have a place in American history, it still does not dull the frustration of not being able to say “Madam President” in 2020.
This book is brilliant and a must read for anyone, regardless of gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. It throws off the old ideas of about women and the misconceptions of our sexuality. By throwing off these ideas, it forces readers to take a hard look at how women’s sexuality is viewed and what must be done so rape and sexual assault becomes a thing of the past.
In the past, when men were afraid of women, they accused them of being witches. But times have changed and the witches are coming for their accusers.
The Witches Are Coming is the title of Lindy West‘s new non fiction book. In the book, she examines and breaks down the sometimes painful ways in which anyone who is not a white heterosexual man is still disenfranchised.
I loved this book. While Ms. West does not pull punches, but she does so in a way that is humorous and speaks directly to the reader. I wish there were more books about feminism like this. Ms. West writes in such a manner that gets to the heart of the issues without getting on her soapbox. The book is well written, easily read and completely enjoyable.
When it comes to war and women, the general image that comes to mind is not the warrior on the battlefield. At best she the wife, the sweetheart or the mother doing her part on the home front while the men are fighting for their country. At worst, she is the victim of rape, enslavement or of a massacre.
Pamela D. Toler’s new book proves otherwise. Entitled Women Warriors: An Unexpected History, the book examines how women throughout history have taken up arms to protect their nation and their people. Jumping throughout time and different parts of the world, Dr. Toler examines the reasons why these women went to battle and the challenges they faced both as women and warriors.
I found this book to be fascinating. I loved that instead of focusing on one area of the world or one specific part of human history, the book spans the gamut from ancient times to the 20th century. My only warning is that some readers might consider the book to be a little too academic for their taste.
In Marilyn’s time, sexism was accepted. Pigeonholed into the ditzy and attractive blonde by the studio, Monroe wanted to prove that as an actress, she was much more than the dumb blonde. After making The Seven Year Itch (1955), she was eager to spread her professional wings. The success of the film and her campaign for the role gave Monroe the confidence to fight for her career, to earn her place in Hollywood and become the performer that she wanted to be.
I was surprised about this book. I knew that for many, she represents old Hollywood. I had heard of the acting classes she took and I knew of the two tumultuous marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller that ended in divorce. But I didn’t know that she fought for her later roles and fought to be seen as a real actress, not just a 2D caricature. Though the book is a little slow, it is still a good read and reminder of the power of women when we fight for what we want.
Like any social or cultural movement, Feminism is has multiple layers and multiple points of view. But where all of these layers and points of view come together is the absolute need for equality.
The Feminism Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained was published earlier this year. Written by DK Publishing and containing a forward by Lucy Mangan, the book covers every aspect of feminism, past and present. The book starts with the origins of Feminism, moves through the various phases of the movement and ends at the present day. Containing pictures, info-graphics, flow charts and profiles of famous women, this book explains Feminism in such a way that anyone can understand it.
I loved this book. It teaches without hitting the reader over the head or sounding like a dry academic textbook. I also appreciated the publisher included chapters about women of color and female members of the LGBTQ movement. When it comes to Feminism, these women are often set aside for cisgender White women who define themselves as upper class or middle class. If we are to succeed and achieve true equality, we cannot only focus on one group of women.
I’m not particularly religious, but as I get older, I realize that the stories in the Bible can still speak to us many generations after they were written.
Today is the Jewish holiday of Purim. It is the story of Esther. To make a long story short, Esther hides her Jewish identity while entered in a beauty contest to see who will become the next Queen of Shushan (modern-day Iran). When she is chosen to be the next Queen, she is faced with an impossible task: save her people from Haman’s wrath while risking her own life in the process.
Looking at the story of Purim through the lens of 2019, I feel like it still speaks to us. It speaks to us because of the growing intolerance that has become acceptable once more in our world.
It also speaks to us because Esther and her predecessor, Vashti, are also two of the strongest women in the Bible. When the King calls for Vashti to appear for all of his guests wearing only her crown (aka walking into a room full of strange, drunk men in her birthday suit), she says no and is sent away. This opens the door for Esther to become Queen and using what little power she has to stop Haman. Esther knows that her husband could easily send her away, or worse, send her to the executioner. But she is brave and knows that the only way to save herself and her people is to reveal who she really is.
The message I get from Purim is that it is possible to be ourselves and stand up to intolerance and hatred. We only need the guts to do so.
It is sometimes said that certain people come into your life at a certain time for a reason. In the early years of the 20th century, feminist activist Alice Paul and President Woodrow Wilson came into each other’s political lives and ended up changing the course of American history.
The new book, How Long Must We Wait? : Alice Paul, Woodrow Wilson, and the Fight for the Right to Vote, by Tina Cassidy, brings together the lives and political stories of two giants of American history: 1st wave feminist Alice Paul and Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States. President Wilson was polite to the women who came to him, asking for his assistance in securing the right to vote, but did not follow-up with lawmakers. Feeling frustrated with the lack of action, Alice went via the route of picketing and hunger strikes in prison until President Wilson had no choice but to act.
I really loved this book. While it may seem a little to Academic, it is actually an invigorating read. Both Paul and President Wilson are brought to life with vivid imagery and an almost cinematic retelling of their personal and political histories. The book makes these historical figures seem alive, vibrant and relevant a century after their political battle.
Instead of writing about women that we all know about, I want to talk about the women who I have come from.
My mother, coming of age during the second wave of feminism in the 1960’s and 1970’s. As an adult, she balanced work, marriage and motherhood. Granted, it was a not easy at times, but to watch my mother do it all was and still is awe-inspiring.
My grandmothers, first generation Americans and members of the Greatest Generation. Born during WWI, growing up during the Great Depression and coming of age during World War II, they understand perseverance in the face of hardship.
My great-grandmothers, born in the shtetls and towns of Eastern Europe. They faced poverty and discrimination at every turn. They came to America, looking for the freedom and opportunities that did not exist in the lands of their birth. They worked in sweatshops and lived in crowded tenement buildings. They fought for their rights as women and workers. It was not paradise, but their fortitude and courage paved the way for future generations.