Category Archives: Timeline of Socio-Political Change 1940-1970

1890-current: Early Feminism in Europe

IMG_0101

 Early feminist (1890) Florence Fenwick Miller (1854-1935) Midwife and English Journalist describes women as in legal slavery with man made laws having women endure sex, marriage and childbirth with no choice or voice in the matter. http://www.enotes.com/topics/feminism/critical-essays/women-16th-17th-18th-centuries

Jenni Murray of BBC History describes the conditions in show,  The 20th Century in Britain: The Women’s Hour,  as neither rich nor poor women had the choice of mates, endured beatings and abuse with no voice in their predicaments. She refers to Millicent Fawcett and Elizabeth Garret as the feminists who advanced education and an opening in the medical profession for women through brave stands by a few women who risked their lives to take the stands that gave ground to other women. It was through the actions of the Women’s Social and Political Union 1903 and the work of Emmeline Pankhurst that the so called War by Women had more women take notice of and make demands for fair treatment and opportunity for education for women. In 1919, she notes, it was Nancy Astor who would be the first women in British Parliament, and in 1929 it was Margaret Bondfield who would be the first woman Cabinet Member. Just as in the US, the war called on the women to take the men’s jobs during the war.   But in 1944, the men returned and the women were sent back to their homes. In 1944,  the Education Act,  limited the number of girls who could be in school. It would be 1950 before girls were given equal access to education. In 1968, with the advent of Betty Friedan, the second wave of feminism came with it, the repeal of the Education Act in 1968.

Murray notes that Linda Grant, author of Sexing in the Millineum made note of the sexual revolution of the 60’s,  which she credited as providing women with the right to say yes.

Englishwoman Germaine Greer wrote The Female Eunich in 1970. Very much like the feminists of the United States, it provided the first aspect of sexuality as perceived by women, and not men. 1970 also was the time of the first British Conference at Oxford on The Women’s Liberation Movement. Parallel to the activities of feminists in the US, Barbara Casette, Secretary of State for Employment, was effective in rallying for the Equal Pay Bill.  It was enacted in 1975 together with the Sexual Discrimination Act.

Similar also is the path of feminism that showed up in England as it did in the United States. Murray comments on the discordant and changing relationships that showed up between women as well as with their men,  in their homes and at the workplace. She points to the position of many women after the 1980’s, even with the gains and the social change underway, being “I’m not a feminist, but…”

It is remarkable how the beginning of the new roles and aspirations for women at home, in their own personal choices and at work had that affect and that feminism took quite a hit as the gears begin to provide new ground for how women lived their lives, both in the United States and in England. In France, it would be the 1975 Veil Law that ended the ban on Birth Control of 1920. In 1994, only 5% of the women in France between the ages of 20-49 did not use contraceptives according to Wikipedia.

The correlation between access to birth control and termination of pregancy and political power and access to education and equal pay seems to correspond for women’s rights in Europe. In Germany, Anita Augspurg was the first university woman student to graduate from a university in 1919 in the Weimar period where equality in education became available to middle and upper class women-until the age of 15 where they then had education at home. The Advanced Women’s rights in making education available to women in Czechoslovakia, Ireland, Lithuania and the Soviet Union was in evidence prior to World War II, as it was in Germany. But the Nazi Era reverted those standards calling for German women to be restricted to their roles as supporters to their husbands and children, as well as their country. 500,000 volunteers made up of women took on the jobs of men and 400,000 women were nurses and aids in hospitals during the war Wikipedia reports.

But by 1987, Betty Friedan again introduced to a whole new generation of young German women feminism. The impact resulted in an antipatriarchy terrorist group Rote Zora of women from 1974-1995 who were responsible for 45 bombings and arson attacks. The strides back to increasing access to women to education and access to being employed, as well as their limited 10% representation in the work place leadership gave stronger ground to the Womens Rights effort. Alice Schwazer became in 1977 and remains a voice for issues of feminism today in the EMMA magazine. The Green Party was established in 1980 and serves to promote equality and human rights in Germany. It is notable that in 2013, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a woman in power and leadership, opposed the European Union proposal to introduce more representation of women in executive board positions, and roles of leadership for women in jobs.

It could be that Women’s Rights where education and equality represent  feminism, but it could also be the measure of access to birth control and women’s right to choose is the measure of the advance and practice of Women’s Rights. Nations and countries giving access to birth control and right to abortion correlate with those seeking equality in education, jobs and equal pay for equal work.   To give women the right to choose is to give them the power to determine their lives, it’s individualistic, solitary, personal. The current issues of the 1000 state bills in the United States attacking women’s right to choose to terminate their unwanted pregnancies, and to disempower Roe VS Wade is to reduce the power of women in the world. What is the continuum of women’s right to choose and their representation in roles of leadership and power in our government, in our universities and in our industries is a relevant question which is beyond this discussion, but surely to be considered.

The Atlantic Magazine, August 5, 2013 featured Emily Matchvar’s gives a comprehensive look at abortion policies in Western Europe and other countries. For women in Germany, the first trimester only is available to women to end their pregnancies. In the Netherlands, there is a 5 day waiting period for women with a 24 week limit. In Belgium, abortion was illegal until 1990, but now a state of extreme distress must be proven for a woman to gain an abortion. Finland, up to 13 weeks is necessary and with that proof that there are adverse conditions such as poverty or already have 4 children. In Denmark, there is a 12 week limitation. But in Israel, Matchvar points out in this article, that although  93% of the American Jews support abortion rights in all cases, the law is that it is illegal for a married woman 17-40 to have an abortion unless rape, incest or infant malfunction is proven. If unmarried, the woman may plead her case, have an ultrasound and take counseling. In Russia, Eukrane and Poland, there is a restriction to 12 weeks, but every attempt to make difficult if not impossible making the choice to abort is presented to a woman seeking an abortion.

Emily Matchvar in the Atlantic article takes the position that the governments that seek to increase their population and advance their nation seek to restrict choice to women and limit access if not directly prohibit it accordingly. Not personal, not up to the individual, but a national need to be answered by women giving birth to children.   Another perspective can be related to the result of silencing the voice of women, enforcing a limitation of choice by women and strengthening further the male voice and perspective as the director of women’s  and the country’s fate. Certainly any woman who has experienced pregnancy, childbirth, early infant care and the years up to school age is aware of the fact that the hormones, the perspective and the free range of movement is greatly inhibited during this vulnerable time. Further,  the years of child care, the significant first 3-5 years are the most vulnerable for the child, and most essential to their well being. The disadvantage of income loss, babysitter costs, and distraction of focus and energy are all costs endured that make for less time and energy to make other demands on life. Not to mention the 18-20 years of parenting that is the current requirement.

Feminism, like democracy, are messy propositions. The initial work of feminism to have recognition of the need for equal opportunity, access and reward required a revision still working itself out with outcomes that are still representing a challenge to societies engaged in the process. “I’m not a feminist, but…” the alternative is devastating and limiting to all the world.  I’m not a feminist is an apology for making noise, causing problems, speaking out and taking actions that disrupt the status quo.   Feminism is not an ideal to reach, it’s organic and in the past fifty years world wide has hugely impacted and altered the history of the world. Intricate and requiring the integrity of assimilation with costs that are not expected that come with the changes, such as role identity and the complexity of divisive and discordant views of the value of the changes as they occur.

Interesting throughout reviewing this level of investigation into how and what impacted women in Europe, Betty Freidan’s name appears over and over again. Her work translated in different countries resonated with women.   Individually, personally they experienced in her words a potential for how they wanted to live as human beings. The work is underway, it is uneven, and the future is uncertain.

IMG_4801

(1174)

Eleanor Roosevelt: Catalyst and Leader 1930-1960

Eleanor Roosevelt:  Catalyst and Leader 1930-1960 began to gather women to take their parts in taking care of the people she saw languishing on the streets of Washington:  women, children and the elderly were the most vulnerable people.  Mrs. Roosevelt is said to have taken a part in the Commission on the Status of Women begun by more than a few presidents that proceeded and represented the basis for the Woman’s Movement.  The New Deal that came through her husband’s work many attribute to the engagement of Mrs. Roosevelt who ventured from the White House and her Upper Class standing to come to see and understand the needs of the country at different points in time.  Rarely referred to as a feminist, she represents everything that is powerful about women coming together for social change.

PART I:  HISTORY 1930-1960

Ruth Rosen, University of California social historian describes most specifically the process of change that from the early Women’s Movement prior to 1963 throughout the backlash against feminism in the 80’s to the rise of global feminism in the 90’s.  She chronicles the rise of effectiveness of the women’s movement to unintentional consequences by President John Kennedy in 1961.  The women who had been a part of his successful run for President were invited to participate in the “Commission of the Status of Women.”  These women were particularly skilled and educated and once brought together came up with grievances toward women.   “Once women get together and talk, they identify the issues and from their ability to establish a language have the basis for social change,” is how Rosen describes this process then, now, here and globally.  She has interviewed the women on that commission, and met with the women who she feels were the “reason for the results that happened for the Women’s Movement.”  Eleanor Roosevelt was the Chairperson of the Commission and they were effective in what they presented to the public, but did not get the results they wanted from within the structure of the government.  In 1966, they formed an independent Women’s Movement to have their issues and grievances for women addressed and acted upon.

In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was being presented for a vote and Rep. Howard K. Smith, chair of the House Rules did not want to see the Equal Rights Bill pass for racial or country of origin civil rights and so added, sex to the bill with the assumption that  would result in the bill failing to pass in congress.  Instead Title 7, Equal Rights Amendment in the Civil Rights Act passed changing the course of history.

Rosen stresses two significant accidental contributions by President Kennedy and Rep. Howard K. Smith that provided the playing field for real change to happen for women.  The other factor attributed to the social change underway was the fact that the women who participated in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Students for a Democratic Society created a “manifesto” in 1965 to 40 women active in civil rights, student and peace movements that produced “discussion and action toward the goals of feminism that would be debated over the next three decades.”

Rosen credits the middle class value of education for women that came up in the 50’s, the Feminine Mystique by Betty Frieden, as the source of the language, noise and productive political actions of the Women’s Movement.  She describes how women came to identity the “injuries of sex” and once identified and brought to language gave found for “the real genius of the Women’s Movement.”

It has to be said that the 1964 change of women having access to birth control pills correlates with the changes women brought to bear in social policy, and shows up in the fact that all changes of significance happened for women after 1964.

Part 2:  War against Women

Politicus.com among other sources has a list of 65 state legislative proposed actions to limit Roe VS Wade.  Their statement is:  “When one group of people display inordinate animus and enmity toward an organization representing a majority of the nation’s population, it is either because of ideology or conditioning spanning centuries.  In American, over 200 years of slavery has left an indelible streak of racial bigotry that persists today despite a civil rights movement and election of an African American President.  Despite women’s suffrage and feminists movement in the last century, women are still regarded as second class citizens by a stubborn patriarchal element in government incited by evangelical Christians.  The evangelical element is so enraged over women gaining a semblance of equal rights and the right to choose their own reproductive health, they naturally extended their hatred of women to an organization that primarily serves women and their health issues.”

Relative to this interview with Ruth Rosen, my question was-given the current state of the GOP war on women-should the Women’s Movement be reignited, recharged, regrouped?

Dr. Rosen’s answer was a surprising – no,  Her position is that the Women’s Movement has created millions of women on their jobs, in their communities, in education, in their churches who are representing the need for action relative to the goals of the Women’s Movement.  “It was a brilliant success” because women themselves bring to their homes, communities and work places, their unions the integration of the work that needs to continue.  The need for childcare, was a current example Rosen gave that is significant for women today.  Googling women’s organizations, it is clear that there is evidence that backs up Dr. Rosen’s view.  She doesn’t see a gathering of one Women’s Movement even within states as effective as compared to the effectiveness of  how women are participating now, mainstream, everywhere.   A Women’s Movement now  would produce more “significant differences,  more conflict”  than collaboration in Rosen’s assessment.

So surely the internet is a means to connect, identify issues and form action that brings women together.  One such group that came to mind was momsrising.org  that I brought up to Dr. Rosen.    They have no central office, all are in their homes all across the country and address women’s and civil rights; their recent work had much to do with the success recently of paid family leave.  Bringing up concerns nationwide that effect all moms, all families is a source for  changing policies by their presence on the internet and at the White House.  Dr. Rosen does know this group and speaks highly of their work as representative of women creating social change for the better.

PART 3: Women coming out to vote for midterm election

Dr. Rosen expressed strongly that it is very important for women to get out the vote for the midterm elections.  It is a known fact that women generally do not get out to vote for the midterm, but getting more seats in the house is really important this election.  Here is where women can get together however they do their votes in,  and encourage each other to get their vote in and counted.  All women need to be concerned about the 700 bills in play in congress and in 40 states, designed to silence the women and throw away decades of progress in civil rights and equality that have deeply contributed to the current choices available to women.  Our daughters, their daughters may not know how it is they got to have the choices they have, the platform established by the Women’s Movement and the debt we all owe to those who brought equality as a practice into our lives.  Getting out the vote for the midterms was the recommendation of Dr. Rosen.  The women’s vote is critical and many speak about that on the various political analysis cable news shows.  This is an important year, and the huge difference can be made by the women who were identified as having been a large part in President Obama’s success in his election.

This is the year to take action and vote in response to what President Obama said recently at a Planned Parenthood conference, that the legislation in 42 states banning or severely limiting the right to choose  is an “assault on women’s rights, and an attempt to roll back the clock for women to 1950.”  Statistically the number of women who generally don’t vote at the midterm elections if they do vote can create the tipping point needed to have the number of  GOP seats reduced and the country to move on to future rather than attempting to return to the past..

(642)

TIMELINE OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS 1848-2014

 

TIMELINE OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS:   1848 TO 2014

 

1848:  Seneca  Falls Convention Elizabeth Cody Stanton and Lucretia Mott presented The Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions identifying injuries and usurpations demanding right to vote

1913:   Susan B Anthony  Civil Rights Activist, suffragist, abolitionist in National American Association of Woman’s Suffragist Association.                  

1919:  Jeannette Rankin- Republican/pacifist and first woman elected to congress-two terms 1916 and 1940;  forceful leader in the National American Association of Woman’s Suffrage through support of President Woodrow Wilson and the congress resulted in passage of 19th Amendment ad women’s right to vote.

 1921:  Mabel Vernon, Quaker suffragist, pacifist and national leader in American Woman’s Suffrage Association Sarah Bard Fields prison and health reform.   Worked with Sara Bard Field, Poet and Woman’s Suffrage leader in Oregon and Nevada.  Lobbied for Equal Rights Amendment and led National Woman’s Party in 1930.

1932:  Frances Perkins,  FDR appoint as Secretary of Labor, 1st woman on cabinet

1937:  Emma Tenayuca, San Antonio Texas Workers World Labor leader brought Workers Alliance to workers;  Detroit Housewives’s League and Black Woman’s Housewives Association with Fannie Peck brought workers rights to 10,000 members and created 75,000 jobs for African Americans through protests of over 200,000 workers.

1940:   Margaret Chase Smith-distinction of being the first woman to serve both the House of Representatives for two full terms as well as elected into the Senate.  Republican Representative for Maine also first woman to have her name placed in  nomination for the Presidency.  

 1940:    Margaret Sanger: Advocate for Family Planning in 1920’s fostering healthcare for women;   Founder of  Planned Parenthood.

1942:   16 million men and women WWII;  996,242 casualties; 350,000 Women served in the war effort in uniform and as volunteers or in war industries to support the war. 

1944:  Clare  Boothe Luce, author, playwright The Women; first woman to be appointed ambassador for term in Rome.  Served two terms in House of Representatives.  1973, Presidential Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

1948:   28.6% women at work after war; women returned to home after the war ended. 

1947: COMMISSION ON United Nations produced first international law that recognized and protected the political rights of women for all the original 51 UN members determining Equal Voting rights for women equal to men.

1949:   Simone De Beauvoir:  women not born women, become women-begins national conversation on sexual roles and identities.

1952:   Virginia Apgar brought Apgar report for newborns

1953:  The Pill Project-Margaret Sanger brings Katharine McCormick to fund $40,000 for hormone birth control research by Dr. Gregory Pincus.

1954:  Kinsey Report 6000 women studied sexual behavior of females; Masters and  Johnson study of sexual dysfunctions of females and males.

 1955:  Alcoholism at its highest level

 1955:   Women allowed to serve on juries, lease apartments or get credit.

1961:   President John Kennedy establishes Commission on the Status of Women appointing 40 women to give constructive recommendations and action addressing employment, social insurance, tax laws, and federal labor laws as well as legal treatment of women; initially a government agency, the Commission on the Status of Women women who identify the “injuries of sex;” the Commission will leave the government and become a force and voice for women in the Women’s Movement-the 2nd Wave of Feminism of the 60’s.

1963:   Betty Frieden’s The Feminine Mystique best seller; women begin to talk to women about their sex lives.

 1960-77:   Bella Abzug, House of Representatives 1971-1877;  lawyer, liberal activist, woman and civil rights advocate. Formed National Women’s Political Caucus with Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem.  American Civil Liberties Union,  Women’s Strike for Peace in 1961.

1964:    Civil Rights Act:  sex, race or country of origin denied in anti discriminatory law defining equality as equal access and opportunity to all Americans.

1965:    Affirmative Action to women and minorities in education and employment empowered by President Lyndon Johnson in War on Poverty.

1965:  Abortion to save the life of the mother/or in case of rape legal

1968:    Shirley Chishom – 1st  African American representative NY

1968:     Gloria Steinem – National Organization of Women- women have the right to work.       

1972:     Equal Rights Amendment passes both houses of congress for equal rights for women received 35 of the needed 38 states agreement for ratification so adoption was not completed. 

1973:     Roe VS Wade; women’s right to choose becomes law of the land

               American Psychiatric Journal:  homosexuality defended

               Yvonne Brathwaite Burke-1st Maternity leave.

1975:     49% women working outside the home

                 First World Women’s Conference, San Francisco

1978:      First year that more women enter college then men

1980:     Elizabeth Dole Secretary of Labor

1980:   Ruth Ginsburg appointed to US Court of Appeals by President Jimmy Carter

1981:    Sandra Day O’Connor 1st woman as Supreme Court Justice

1984:       Geraldine Ferrara first woman Vice Presidential candidate

1992:      Janet Reno and Madeline Albright, President Bill Clinton appoints to cabinet        

1993:  President Bill Clinton appoints Ruth Ginsburg to Supreme Court-strong voice for gender equality and civil rights

1997:      Equal Rights Amendment

2008:     Lily Lidbetter Paycheck Fairness Act

                 Hillary Clinton Candidate for President of the United States

2012:  UN WOMEN in Commission of Status of Women dedicate global governmental body to the promotion of gender equality and elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against girls.

(562)

1840 to 2014: What feminism calls for today

Journey for Women

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

               Where it all began

We have established that he beginning of women’s right all begins 72 years before the 19th Amendment was passed and the beginning of  women’s rights.  Two women in 1840, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott attended an AntiSlavery Convention in London.  Elizabeth Stanton’s husband was a participant in the  Antislavery Convention,  but the women were refused seating due to their sex.  Elizabeth Stanton, the only non Quaker,  prevailed and the women did gain entry.  Stanton and Mott then went home and  brought together women and men who identified  “18 injuries and usupations” toward women at the Weslayan Methodist Church in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848.  In attendance were 300 people with forty men.   The “Declaration of Sentiments,”  and nine resolutions proposed to reflect that “all men and all women were created equal, and should have equal rights and privileges”  All but one of the resolutions was agreed upon, but not woman suffrage.  It would be Frederick Douglas who would persuade the convention to accept the woman suffrage resolution .  (The National Portrait Gallery.)

Further we know that the Woman’s Rights Convention in Rochester, New York would follow days after the Seneca Falls Convention, and a year later Worchester, Massachusetts would host the convention.   This work  would be the continued work of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and temperance worker Susan B. Anthony in 1851 that ultimately secured the vote for Women 72 years later in the passing of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

Political entry and  inclusion of women in congress started in 1920 with Jeannette Rankin of Montana, the first woman in congress who opened the doors to the women who followed.

With the right to vote, with women advancing in to property ownership and being elected into office, another impact to change was the birth control efforts in process.  As early as 1916, women could attend the Margaret Sanger Clinic in New York City for birth control use of diaphragms.    But it was Margaret Sanger in 1938 who demanded address from the public of the plight of women and children as free labor in factories and the farms, the comstockery abuse of women and children, as well as the fact that the bearing of many children broke women’s backs and spirits.   Sanger wrote many publications on birth control in response to the number of  women having unlimited pregnancies and children, often dying young.  Margaret Sanger‘s book arguing against “comstockery”  changed the course of history, though book store owners who carried it on their shelves had up to five years in jail as a possible consequence under the law of the times. She would become the first president of Planned Parenthood in 1940s.  Her work is the basis for the right for women to choose the use of their bodies, and Founder of Planned Parenthood remains the consistent address and support of women’s rights.

Women coming together, then and now, has been and remains the source of personal and political change for women.  In New York in the late 50’s, Bella Abzug and others began to openly question the economic and social status of women.  Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique delved into the area of women’s sexuality and  became a bestseller in  1963.    The distinction to her book and the stir it created was that it was unlike other work, such as  Freud and Masters and Johnson.  Science had only looked on women’s sexuality in terms of  dysfunctions-inability to fulfill the role of wife and mother.  The new questions for women and their sexuality was around their choices and their benefits relative to pleasure.  Books like Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique and Cheryl Hite The Hite Report  stirred up for women a better knowledge who they were and what was available to them.  The link between sexual power seems to correspond with political power in the world.  Women became more willing to talk to each other about their issues, their intimate lives as well as their views on the world around them.

WOMENS GROUPS

The link between sexual liberation and political freedom was a personal and political experience unevenly spread around the country.  A change in consciousness allowed women to recognize the choices they had in determining their own lives.   The Women’s Movement of the 60’s as viewed by historians like Estelle Freedman and Ruth Rosen that was to become of public discourse was a “white woman’s movement.”  Women,  moving individually and collectively, often with a great deal of conflict and dissension among themselves and polarization of interests still had the courage to ask important questions of themselves and the world around them.

                                Accidental Feminism

When President Kennedy was elected, he acknowledged the work of 40 women who had helped him get elected in 1961 to a new government post: Commission on the Status of Women in 1961. President Kennedy is sometimes referred to as an “Accidental Feminist” because he was not known top be specifically interested in women’s rights.  His goal was not to spur on the goals of women’s rights, but to acknowledge the work of the women who had helped him get elected in his campaign of 1961. These women identified the “injuries of sex” for women in the workplace and in their homes and identified the measures of women’s rights to address those injuries.  These women would depart from the government position,  and bring their expertise, knowledge and abilities to the Woman’s Movement and  make headway for change for women, pushing for their inclusion in the civil rights act in congress.

We know from history that in 1964, the Civil Rights Bill  presented to congress had an addition at the last moment.    Historian Ruth Rosen reports the “unintended consequence” taken by House and Means Chair William K. Smith was to provide civil rights for women.  Smith wanted to see the Civil Rights Bill fail and at the last minute added women’s rights assuming that would kill the possibility of its passage.  However,  the Civil Rights Bill  prohibiting prejudice of racial or country of origin, or Sex passed.    the bill was changed right before the vote to “race, country of origin or sex.”   The Civil Rights Bill of 1963 passage of   Women’s Right’s, and affirmative action to give preference to those excluded from power and position were the groundwork for equality within the structure of the bill.

                                      Struggle with identity

In 19644% of women worked out of the home, and divorce was at a 4% level.  It was not  clear to many women across the country what the right direction was and each woman really had to choose to tune into the fledgling freedom of choice offered her, or hang on to the institutions and bureaucracies of identity and so shrugged and tolerated the new context of feminism that  arose in the Womens Movement.  There was disparity and conflict within the movement and many women did not identify with the women active and vocal in its demands for equality.  Trial and error, exploration was possible and many women were aware of and responded to the new ground available to them in the years to come.

                               Transformation

 The timeline of social, economic, political and sexual freedom that began over fifty years ago shows up today in the Pew Report of 2011.  In 1960, 11% of mothers went to work to support their families, and today it is 40%.  Women now make up 47% of the workforce.  These are mostly single mothers who support their families but there are also a significant number of mothers whose income is larger than their husbands, making them the primary earner in the family.   The “dramatic transformation we have seen in the family structure and family dynamics over the  past fifty years,” is described by Kim Parker, associate director with the Pew Social and Demographic Trends Project.  The trend is a result of the long term demographic changes, including higher rates of education with more women graduating from college than men and has its basis in the 1960’s women’s movement, it is reported.

The Pew study also reports that the economic decline in the past seven or eight years has resulted in fewer jobs in industries predominantly held by males, such as manufacturing, construction and labor jobs.  Corresponding to these changes is a record low marriage rate. 2012 was the first year that the married population was not the majority. Also in 201240% of all births were in single mother households without marriage.

The changes in how people organize themselves and the choices they make about  marriage and children is the world of today.   Women and men choose their lives by a different criteria than their parents or grandparents. Two million  Men choose to work at home and parent their children; women consider not a valid choice not to have children; same sex families as well as those who chose to live alone all have the range of options of their choosing available.  Equality of choice in family planning comes directly from Roe VS Wade and birth control.  Representation in election campaigns points to the active role and large impact of single women in political life.  All the more alarming that there are 1000 state bills in process in forty states that seek to reduce women’s right to choose, and even to give access to birth control.  The Affordable Healthcare Act political forum extends to employers seeking to not extend birth control accessibility to their employees.  The attempt to reduce women’s rights at this stage of development seems outrageous.  But it is real, and calls upon all human beings to be concerned.  Going back is not the direction most would choose.

                                  Call for leadership

There is an indication of an attempt to  revert the civil rights of women established over the past fifty years.  Voter’s rights of minorities is where civil rights are being attacked in another realm.   Historians Ruth Rosen and Estelle Freedman do not see a resurrection of a woman’s movement as the leadership that could respond to these attacks on equality and choice and power for women and minorities. Rather each of us, any of us, have an impact in our daily lives to be concerned and active citizens.  With the 24/7 news around us, we can grow numb and have the sense of inevitability take the energy of a response to the conditions around us.

Barefoot Frontrunners came from the stark recognition of the path along which human rights, women’s rights have evolved.  The first wave of feminism of the 20’s, the second wave in the 60’s had an impact, made a difference, opened the road for humanity to engage in the realm of feminism: equality, inclusion and transformation of roles and functions as individuals and as a society.  The voice of women has never been more needed as the world gets smaller and issues of any part of the world effect our world. The women who have been left behind, due to race and class and the economic and religious constraints within which they live, some feel we have to bring along to get along in the long run.  It will always be the barefoot frontrunners that widen the path, open the door and seek to empower those left behind.  It begins now, and every day.

“Sisters, bloody feet have worn smooth the path upon which you tread.”  Estelle Freedman No Turning Back-the History of Feminism and the Future of Women

See more about historical context

(343)