The struggle continues for women. Today is a tough day. The official ruling of the Roe v. Wade came down, even though we knew it was coming from the leaked draft. Yet here we are spinning from the news. It is heartbreaking. So this is a mixture of my thoughts as I try and figure out what is next.
Susan B. Anthony
Many of you know that I volunteer as a docent at the Susan B. Anthony House Museum. When things like this come up I wonder what Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) would say. Her generation had no real rights until the likes of her and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) got to work. Think about this for a moment. Women could not own property, divorce an abusive husband, could not vote let alone run for public office, and were completely dependent upon the men in their lives. It was worse for black women – slavery was still in place.
The 13th Amendment abolished slavery, the 14th Amendment addressed citizenship and equal protection of the laws, while the 15th Amendment prohibits the government from denying a citizen the right to vote based on race, color or previous condition of servitude. Young women today have no idea what they endured to give us this right.
I sometimes think that she would get angry and double down in her efforts. That is what most women need to do now. Perhaps the young women of today will stop taking for granted the rights they have. Because I just saw the world I know it take a giant step backwards. To think back when my youngest brother was born, my mother had to have my father’s permission to have her tubes tied. Think about that, that was in the middle of the 1970’s.
National Civil Rights Museum – Memphis
My husband and I had a wonderful trip last week. It was a whirlwind tour of 9 states and we spent some time in Memphis. Quite by accident we came across the National Civil Rights Museum. It wasn’t planned, it just happened. Those that know my beliefs, know that nothing happens by accident. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I took two photos. The rest of the time I was mesmerized by what was being presented to us. In many ways it was a reminder that I have a voice and that I need to use it.
I was shocked to learn what lead to the Civil Rights Movement. They start with the slave trade (1619-1861) and what happened. They take you on an emotional journey leading right up to the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968). I remember it mentioned in history class, but really never was taught the cost that the Freedom Riders paid, what hurdles that had to be overcome. Nor those that the sit ins at lunch counters endured. And that is just one set of stories that are told.
There is a second building that is called the Legacy Building and it shows the history after Martin Luther King, Jr. Several times through the tour my husband and I would remark that we learned none of this. Most of our knowledge comes after our “education”. Then again we really were children at the time.
I tell the story of Abolition and Ida B. Wells (1862-1936) coming to Rochester to tell of the lynchings and the friendship between Susan and Frederick Douglas (1818-1895). Here in this museum I began to understand their struggle. The risks they were taking to help their fellow beings. Men, women, black, white, Irish, Polish, Italian. It didn’t matter. They were going to fight for equality. The fight continues and we must become for the voice of the unheard. They matter.
How do we Fix a Broken System?
The struggle continues for women with the overturn of Roe v. Wade. We can sit in the sadness or propel ourselves forward. As a result, it is time to take up the fight of those before us; and importantly not become complacent. Today it is reproductive rights, yesterday it was gun safety and the day before that the separation of Church and State. It is time to hold our elected official accountable. We must call out the injustices we see and defend those that cannot defend themselves. If for no other reason that it is the right thing to do.
This is a problem that has been going on for over 100 years. I don’t know what the answer to the question. I do know doing nothing is going to the wrong thing. We must find a way to break the patriarchal system that brought us to this point. Time to stop the “good old boys”. The only way I can see real change happening is if everyone stands up and says “NO MORE”! Do that by voting, by getting involved, and standing up to the bullies that seem to think that they can do what they damn well please.