“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.”—19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, signed August 26, 1920
My college women’s history course was taught by a brand-new instructor, eager and idealistic and ambitious, who piled us down with tons of intensive reading and writing and discussion (to the dismay of certain disinterested students who thought “women’s history” would be the light history-credit alternative to Origins of Asian Civilization). We studied, of course, first-wave feminists like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who fought for the right to vote and drafted a constitutional amendment in the 1870s. Neither woman lived to see the amendment signed into law on August 26, 1920, but you have to think they whooped it up in their graves.
In celebration of Women’s Equality Day and the 91st anniversary of our right to vote, Ms. Magazine announces that modern-day feminists have launched HERvotes, a campaign to preserve the top 10 historic advances for women that are at risk of being overturned or weakened by conservative policy-makers—key advances like Roe v. Wade, Title IX, and the Violence against Women Act. Even voting rights are threatened. And Erina Davidson in Bust Magazine (August 26, 2011) reminds us that true equality, at the ground level, means respect and inclusivity for all kinds of women:
While we’ve won quite a few battles and planted many flags over the years, the women of 2011 have a long list to tackle. Women still earn only 78 cents on the dollar compared to men more than 47 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act. Justice continues to go unserved for the victims of sexual assault. Sex workers face the struggle of being denied basic human and labor rights. Victim-blaming and slut-shaming are rampant in today’s dialogue. And women are criticizing other women for partaking in activities that were once deemed ‘unfeminist’ and ‘housewife-like’. (If she loves nothing more than making delicious pumpkin bread, then let her bake, for pete’s sake!)
Whether you’re a cupcake-baking porn lover, a Summer’s-Eve-hating urban farmer, a mom working a part-time job, or an avid activist waiting for the day that women can bring their girlfriends home without being shunned by family, we’re all fighting our own battles every day. And we’re fighting them for each other.