Today is the first day of Women’s History Month. I could write about women like Susan B. Anthony, Gloria Steinem or even Hillary Clinton.
I’d like to write about something different tonight.
I want to honor the ordinary women who paved the way. The Jane Doe on the street who is just going about her business, who in her own small way, paved the way for the rights and achievements of future generations of women. Specifically, I want to write about the women I come from, my mother and my grandmothers.
My grandmothers were first generation Americans, the daughters of Eastern European Jewish immigrants. Coming of age during The Great Depression and World War II, they understood what sacrifice and hardship felt like. My paternal grandmother was a homemaker, my maternal grandmother stayed at home until her youngest child was of an appropriate age, then she went back to work. My grandmothers were intelligent, capable, loving, strong. Both of my grandmothers (and my grandfathers as well), are long since deceased, but the legacy they left will live on.
My mother is a baby boomer. Born in an era when gender lines were clear and not to be crossed, her generation demanded equality and would not stop until they had it. The revolution they started in the 1960’s and 1970’s, my generation is continuing. My mother proved that it was possible to have a husband, raise healthy and happy children, while sustaining a full time career.
I come from amazing stock. Without these women, I would not be the woman I am today. Every woman deserves the chance to succeed and every woman who is successful stands on the shoulders of the women, famous or ordinary, paved the way for her.
It took American women 72 years from the earliest days of the Suffragette movement to gain the right to vote. This year celebrates the 96th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. We’ve come a very long way, but there will be many more battles ahead. I have been waiting to hear the words “Madam President” for a long time. I will be voting for Hillary come November.
Last week, women in America both cheered and were reminded once more of how far we need to go.
The ultimate glass ceiling was broken when Hillary Clinton clinched the nomination for the Democratic nomination. Somewhere in heaven Alice Paul, Eleanor Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony and Betty Friedan are cheering.
While I was not persuaded to vote for Bernie Sanders, I admired his gutsy approach to government if he won the election. The reason many Americans (myself included) feel frustrated with the government and the general voting process is that it feels more like a secret smoky backroom deal rather than a government of the people, by the people, for the people. He wanted the average Joe or Jane on the street to feel like they truly had a say in how their country was being run. For that, I thank Bernie Sanders and I hope Hillary will take that with her as she battles towards November.
Then the news of the Stanford rape broke and it felt like one step forward, two steps back. The fact that Brock Turner received a much lighter sentence that maximum 14 years in prison is a cold slap in the face that while we have female presidential nominee, women are still thought to be mindless sex objects.
Focusing on Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frances Willard and Alice Paul, the author starts in the 1840’s with Lucy Stone and ends with Alice Paul in the 1920’s. Living in an era when women were second class citizens and without rights, these women dared to step forward and challenge the status quo.
What I liked about this book is that the author wrote about her subjects as complete human beings, warts and all. What I did not like about this book is that the writing is a little on the dry side.
Do I recommend it? Let me put it this way. If the subjects of history and/or feminism are of interest to you, then I would say yes. The book is excellent if it is required for academic purposes. But otherwise, I would not recommend it.