In 1977, the first federally funded National Women’s Congress was held in Texas, USA, with the goal of proposing an equal rights amendment to the constitution, which would then be passed on to President Jimmy Carter. The amendment was ratified by 35 states, short 3 states of the 38 it needed in order to pass it on. This women’s convention succeeded in bringing together women to discuss women’s issues, but where it had failed was at the core.
After the suffragettes had gained the vote, a new, main goal needed to have been decided on. Instead, women’s movements were screaming out in all directions- health insurance, home-maker wages, affirmative action, abortion rights, minority women interests, and the list goes on. All this made for an un-focused movement, able, in essence, to achieve very little and very slowly. However, the bigger, and more problematic result was the public confusion it created. Till this day, and much in the past, once women had gained the vote, many didn’t quite realize what those crazy feminists were (and few still are) talking about when they say that women still don’t have “equal rights”. Many don’t quite realize what exactly women are still lacking, what all this complaining is about.
We’re well enough into the 21st century. Technology enables us to send information across the globe at high speeds, raise awareness even in the most remote little village, and expose almost everyone to almost everything- it’s high time the women’s movement gathered and set a new major goal for itself and set out to explain to the rest of the world what exactly we’re talking about when we say things are still far from satisfactory.
In my opinion, the single, most important goal that the focus should move to (that should have perhaps been much more obvious to move on to after gaining the vote), is EQUAL REPRESENTATION. Laws guaranteeing 50% representation in all boards of directors, government chambers, educational facilities and corporations. What help is the vote, when we’re voting for men, when mainly (and sometimes only) men are making decisions? How does being able to vote for men help us women advance women’s issues? How can we expect sympathy from those who don’t even realize there’s still a problem? Add to this the fact that even regardless of representation, a big obstacle to the women’s movement is non-other than women themselves, apathetic (and actually, also just pathetic) women who either don’t care, don’t understand or are simply up to their heels in “man world” that they’re too backwards to even think that it is legitimate for them to create their own expectations of themselves, other than just live up to society’s expectations of them. These women seem perfectly content with men making all their decisions for them. Perhaps, equal representation could help bring them to see that it’s high time for gender roles to become passé and go out of style.
A general “silencing of women” has been taking place for many, many years already. Women’s magazines, portraying what they seem to think is “women’s agenda” are encouraging us to spend more time thinking what to wear to work, rather than encouraging us to take a moment and ask why the guy next to us is earning more, for the same work load. They’re encouraging us to eat right and go look for our sexual freedom, rather than encouraging us to re-examine family values and question weather the way women have been forced to live for thousands of years is old fashioned and doesn’t suit the way of life we want for ourselves today. We’re seeing wedding dresses and fall fashions instead of the diagrams showing wage differences, health-coverage differences, representation differences and so on.
Why? Is it because someone doesn’t want us to dwell in that? Yes. But it’s also because WE don’t want to dwell in it. Because, as women, we’ve been educated for centuries that we aren’t the ones who deal with important matters such as finance, politics, education and health care. And since, when we look around us, these areas are still dominated by a majority of male decision makers, we’re having a hard time finding our place, coming out with new magazines that maybe can introduce an agenda more realistic to our lives and less Disney style.
Now, why would anyone mind us dwelling in the wage differences? In health insurance coverage? It’s simple really, it’s the 21st century and women are still being used as cheap labor. Money is being made off our backs, and the dilemmas are left to us. Why should I go to work if I’ll bring home less than my husband and still have all the house-work left? Why should I choose to remain single if it’ll mean losing out on so many financial benefits married couples are entitled to, not to mention the social implications? Why should I pursue a PhD, have a harder time than my male co-workers, make less money, and maybe miss the chance of fulfilling my womanhood and having kids? Who is discussing these issues today? Who is proposing solutions that entail more than smiles and a pat on the back? Who cares? If we don’t care, no one will care for us. If we don’t care to change the cover of women’s magazines from ‘photoshoped’ beauty ideals to our demand for equal treatment, no one will do it for us. And the only way I see possible to achieve this is by having ourselves properly represented, in all parliaments, govt. chambers, corporations and educational facilities.
If our young girls see women calling shots and caring for their future, they will have more initiative, more inspiration, more role models, more incentive and ultimately more hope. Educating young girls, giving them hope and role models they can follow, is in everyone’s interest. Women are a buying force, giving them adequate wages will only strengthen the market and potentially generate more jobs. Women often make more decisions regarding family health- giving them better insurance and coverage, means improving everyone’s lifestyle.
Equality for women isn’t only in the interest of women. It is in the benefit of society as a whole. We have the vote, now let’s make it mean something!
It’s time to vote in OUR favor, in OUR interest and in accordance with OUR agenda. The one we’ve been ignoring, overlooking and neglecting for 100 years.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcjn8PMyhhE – Sisters of 77′