Tag Archives: 1964

“Selma is now:” Paris- Ferguson: human rights

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“Selma is now” expressed by common on the award as he and John Legend shared for  “Glory”award winning song by both the Academy Awards and Golden Globes.  In fact,many feel that the presentation of “Glory” at the Academy Awards was THE MOMENT of the Academy Awards-taking the glitter and gold to the heart and soul of “Selma.”

From Paris to Ferguson, the issues of Selma are a presence in our lives.  Around the world the conflict and dissension around integration and inclusion of those excluded from power, from choice, from having the privilege of self determination in a context of equality is very much the issue of today. 1964 and the Civil Rights Act and the addition of women’s rights to the long struggle minority rights has been considered “accidental,” a political ploy, an attempt to  derail the passage of the Civil Rights Act.    Ruth Rosen and other historians attribute the passage of the Civil Rights Act as a consequence of House Speaker Howard K. Smith in a last minute effort to sabotage the passage with the addition of sex to race and country of origin in the Civil Rights Act. In fact,the passage of the bill  was only the beginning of decades of struggle, and a severe backlash that have limited the purpose of the bill to bring voter’s rights and engagement by those disenfranchised to the realm of access, opportunity, human dignity and equality for minorities and women realized in fact and in deed.

 

Today, January 12, 2015 the New York Times has on the front page: ” Solidarity in Paris against Terrorism” and describes the millions who march in response to  the killing of journalists, artists, cartoonist, social commentary writers and people who were caught in the crossfire of Islamic terrorism with the killing of 17 people. Over a million people from all over the world gathered to march and honor the dead and affirm their united commitment to deal with this tragedy, many voicing  grave concern for the future of freedom of speech. “Je suis Charlie” has been taken up by all those who have chosen to step up and into a resounding response to the tragedy and its meaning, and the future they determine will not be impacted, limited or intimidated by acts of terrorism.

 

In the same New York Times edition, there are the references to the Golden Globe Awards and the many expressions from those in the film and television industry to uphold freedom of the press, freedom of the arts to express their freedom of speech – in Paris and in Ferguson. In the background also was the North Korea debacle of high jacking Sony’s files in an effort to intimidate Sony to not release a film of questionable taste that made light of terminating their leader. The tie, the connection is even more profound given the awards and recognition of the film “Selma,” at the Golden Globes award show.  Martin Luther King and the people of Alabama who fought with their lives for the privilege of gaining access to voting is very alive in our world today.   “Selma is Now” was the message by John Legend as he accepted his award for the music of the film “Glory” which called for the recognition of the connection between Selma and Ferguson to all those viewing the show, as well as the artists attending.  History is happening.

 

History is not always perceived as happening in the moment in which events conspire to change the course of humanity. Certainly the day my husband and I were driving in Montgomery the summer of 1964, and witnessed the group of African American men and women of all ages walking together in the heat of the middle of the day caught our attention.  We had no knowledge of what we were seeing. Some things about racial issues came through on the 6 o’clock news about SNCC, NAACP with images of Dr. Martin Luther King, but all that seemed remote to us in Madison, Wisconsin.  My husband was in the midst of a course given in Montgomery for military officers, only there for 8 weeks.  WE lived where other officers and wives lived and ventured out for shopping generally.  So what we saw on that day had no context in which to hold what we were seeing, or what it meant. The newspapers and the radio never referred to that event that day though we looked for some understanding of what we  saw. Just as in the film “Selma”, the faces of the people with eyes straight ahead, their clothes even for the hot and muggy  mid day looking fresh, and undampened by the 90 degree heat. Going to school with many mixture of irish, italian, lithuanian and black students in Norwood, Massachusetts and later the same in high school in Philadelphia, what was unusual in seeing the people pass our car as we waited was their silence. The silence that conveyed the gravity of their intention, and  “Selma” conveys without mercy the consequences they faced barehanded. I did know I was in the South and that silence was known to me. It carried a weight of the unspoken power bracing and unrelenting that would not be stopped in meeting a destiny that in many ways is still unmet.  But the lengths to which that African American people who had the courage to march endured was not visible,not reported and lived in the silence.

 

The film “Selma” has so much to contribute to an understanding of what was witnessed  on that summer afternoon in 1964 which at the time had no context or meaning that could convey the movement it became. Particularly valuable in the film is the life size Martin Luther King. Throughout the years of Dr. King’s work, his image and the speeches  conveyed the immense and essential meaning of what was at stake for “black children and their families.” As remote as it seemed to my life, still those images on TV had him appear larger than life. In many ways, Dr. King certainly was larger than the world around him, in his scope of view and passion to see through a struggle that would have a broken lesser man. But in the film, and perhaps on that summer day in 1964, he is among others and has no particular position and is marching with the people, among the people, bringing along people.  In the film and on the tv news, Dr. King made clear that all who stand by – by their lack of action. are part of the problem.  In the film, Dr. King brings along President Johnson who finally steps up and brings about the passage of the Civil Rights Act by his considerable clout with congress, ultimately only because he doesn’t want to be :”on the wrong side of history.” The message of “Selma” to me is that any of us who stand by and allow the killing in Ferguson, and Michael Brown, New York and Eric Garner and Jacksonville Trayvon Martin to pass are on the “wrong side of history.”

 

“Selma” deals with the restrictions to voting that kept the black community powerless, very much like Ferguson with white men in power and white men killing black men. There is a stepping up in Ferguson to get voters registered and voting.  The connection between voting and gaining access to leaders who represent the community’s needs has been made, and with that the recognition that poverty and no future hopes are the disease in any community and voting as citizens is a right and responsibility.   Future hope in terms of exercising your vote and having the agenda and needs of all of the people recognized is the tomorrow and the potential that the people of Ferguson have woken up to. But  just as in 1964, voter restrictions is a reality in many states of this country with Republican driven agendas.

 

Voter restrictions is very similar to the increase in restrictions within states that are attempting to reduce women’s rights, a reality of our lives today. Women’s rights, women’s equality likewise is under attack from the Republican states banning insurance coverage, in some of the same states.

In Alabama, Indiana,North Carolina, Texas, Ohio and Wisconsin, there is an attempt ban Roe VS Wade. In other states – Arkansas, North Carolina, Pennsyvlania and Virginia, the Republicans are attempting to ban insurance coverage for women. Thus the attempt 42 times to bring the end of Affordable Health Care ACT has had the serious agenda of limiting women’s rights to choose and access to birth control. Just as the Republican state legislation is  driven to attempting  to restrict voter’s rights, there is the attempt to reduce women’s rights.   The suppression of women and minorities is clearly a response to the fact that the 2008 election of Barack Obama was produced by the huge impact of African American, Hispanic and women with the greatest turnout that the country had seen in 40 years. (Mother Jones: Stephanie Mencimer October 2014)

 

Women’s rights, the rights of African American, Hispanic to full participation is under attack, there is no question. Perhaps it never was really accidental but providential that minorities and women were granted the Civil Rights Act as a beginning to full entry, equal entry into a society that once again is attempting to contain, restrain and maintain the white male privilege which is in fact being diluted and diminished by the consequence of the blend of races and culture that cannot be stopped.  A consequence of demographic shifts and changes that will happen anyway,  but can be interrupted, can be slowed down by aggravating the progress that has been made, inflaming fear and ethnocentric views in an attempt to limit the progress underway. The attempt to push back and restrict the power of people – women, African American and Hispanic in particular- who are in the process of determining their choices to manifest their lives, that represents their needs and fulfills their potential power politically and economically.

 

The conflict and struggles globally reflect the struggles in every area of the world of the struggles to maintain the status quo by those who are primarily benefiting from the conditions that are changing and are unstoppable. As the New York Times today described, in the Paris crowd of millions as they shared their grief at the loss of their countrymen, they emboldened  their stand to meet terrorism and vanquish those responsible for the horror of their loss.

 

(Liz Alderman, January 12, 2015: In Honor of Dead, World Leaders Link Arms) In the crowd, Liz Aldermann reported that Lillith Guillot. a woman of 23 who had marched with her friends all day expressed her shock that the people who came to this march  who “descended on Paris appeared to believe that the response to  terrorism or homegrown extremists was to spend more on security or escalate the potential to war. “ Guillot said that the people who had carried out the killings in France, and those who had committed similar acts in other European countries had all come from deprived backgrounds. Those from France’s suburbs, she said, appeared to have gravitated to extreme Islam partly because they could never get out of the ghetto.” Ms Guillot went on to say “What those men did was inexcusable, but all these leaders need to look at the root of the problem: (hat is needed is ) integration and inclusion. Until then, nothing will change.”

 

Integration and inclusion,  so  it is with Ferguson, and so it was with Selma then.  “Selma is now” was shouted out at the Golden Globe awards. And at the theater where “Selma” was presented Saturday night at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland, as the credits began-a chant began: “Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter…”

Our lesson, our only hope is a world where all lives matter and are of equal value and the struggle, the actual work in maintaining women’s rights and bringing up and supporting the minorities who have been excluded and criminalized is the work ahead. As Dr. King said-we are all responsible for all the victims and all those who limit human potential and human life. That is the future of feminism, that is the future of democracy, that is the only future sustainable.

 

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Sex, Women and Power

 

Karen Colusa, artist 2011IMG_0703

Gloria Steinem:  “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”

Sex, Women and Power came as a new chapter for the new woman and changed the human potential for how men and women lived their lives.   While living through the abrupt interruption of the life around me in the revolution of the late 1960’s;  new perceptions and ideals even with  its cost provided a political and social chaos from which sexual liberation led to the choices I began to recognize that were mine to make.  Feminism-though I didn’t have a name for it- was what I felt like a hot knife to a still cold center of my being  as a child when I was a witness to contempt and lack of dignity afforded those considered less strong, less seen-the unconsidered, the other.   The concepts I could not name, but I felt  when I witnessed the inequity, injustice and pain administered with authority by those in power.  The urgent push to stand in the cracks rather than enter either the realm of those holding the power or those victimized was where I placed myself.  The passionate and uncompromising places I found in the cracks were the signposts and directives of my life, and the purpose of this book is to identify the process of feminism-equity and justice-for men and women,  inside and out, and the  call for the future we must secure.

Women’s rights born under the blanket of civil rights fifty years ago shares some of the history-the struggle for equality, finding a place at the table with equal rights and privileges as citizens with access to choice and responsibility has been a process shared between women and minorities. We argue that the structured systematic condition of placing obstacles to equality for race and sex are less overt, but live in the condition of the need to exclude and deny that process of exclusion in an attempt to maintain established white privilege and power.

Women and their sense of power are a thread that is the life-force, the motion and the expression of the feminism- that I address in this book.  Personal is the political for the women, the barefoot frontrunners, who took the steps to bring into their lives,  their dignity and their choices,  fulfilling the potential of equality.  One by one, in small and large measured and unmeasured ways often, the progress over the past fifty years is profound.  It reveals a pattern of empowered by sexual equality  that is  followed by full participation in all realms of business, political, medical and scientific achievement.

 

PART ONE – WOMEN describes  the path  of women through interviews, historical context and intimate essays of the changes experienced that redefined of women and the society around them .   Interviews with women who were born in 1940 initiated the process of recognizing the specific agents that created social and sexual change.  With the Women’s Movement and Civil Rights movement in the background,  women lived under the radar but were the instruments of significant change.  It was about how they lived their lives with  a response step by step, trial and error to a new world of choice and responsibility .  It is also the story of the women who came together in the 1920’s in the trade unions, then again in the 1960’s to forming the ethos of feminism.   NOW, and the Women’s Liberation Movement impacted and changed the political structure by their relentless demand and attainment of worker’s rights and  equality in the workplace and in the home.  But it was all the women who followed who took the movement to a transformed society.

 PART TWO – SEX describes  women  as they gained access to choice and responsibility to determine their own lives.   The world changed for women with the first birth control pills in 1964, and then the Civil Rights Bill of 1965 that determined prejudice against minorities, women and immigrants could not exclude their participation and inclusion in The Great Society we aspired to be.  The  atmosphere of the late 1960’s was  that of challenging assumptions about who we were as a country and as human beings, as men and as women.   Assumptions about our roles and identities gave way to the cognitive dissonance inspired by  the new freedoms and new choices and new responsibilities that came often in chaos and confusion.   The future was unclear, but the  demonstrations and anger from the universities to the streets of Chicago, LA and New York demanded a look at our priorities and  participation in the world.     Affirmative Action in 1965 was the starting point for many, within the scope of civil rights and President Lyndon Johnson’s insistence in fulfilling the intention of the Civil Rights Act.  Preferential admission to universities and jobs enhanced access for women, and minorities in an attempt to reverse discrimination.  The timeline shows that sexual and political power seems linked to the new history by women, and changes in social roles and by both men and women.    Sexual and political changes over the span of the  years of social revolution  illustrate how new patterns emerged in how people lived their lives.

The women who stepped forward in Seneca Falls in 1848 or in Afganistan a week ago, give weight to the position  of women who impact their circumstances and the world around them. Significant and a crack in the hardened ground of patriarchy, class regimentation, we see girls like Malala Yousafzai who have broken through the fear and contempt, and will not be stopped. In our own country, ground is broken for non violence against women who have had the courage to come forward and break the chains of sexual abuse in their homes, in our military, in universities, and in the athletic sports world. We have moved forward significantly, but in our poorest and most crime ridden local communities today, there is recognition that for girls,  lack of education and property make less possible access  and entry into the workplace.  It all begins for girls with the means to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies in order to progress and make into a sustainable life.  Planned Parenthood has served women since the days of Margaret Sanger in the 1940’s. Roe Vs.Wade has added to their support of women to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, but predominantly, Planned Parenthood has served as a source of education and service for all income levels to guide their management of  health and well being, sexual education and birth control. Predominantly, the sexual revolution of the 1970’s brought the recognition of women as sexual beings with desire and appetite unrelated to their roles as wives and mothers.

 

The PART THREE – POWER  is the product of call in 1970 for the sexual and political liberation of women that made for the ongoing transformation underway worldwide for women, and for humanity. Women getting together with women and calling for change and taking on the openings provided to women with Affirmative Action was the action taken.  Led by the voices of the women in the movement, but achieved by the women who stepped forward into the potential for liberty brought on by the social revolution.  It was each women who chose to take on whatever part she saw for herself to achieve her place, her position of being a free woman.  The brave actions of these barefoot frontrunners brought on the markers of feminism we find in the world today.  The role of fathers, the definition of family, the high representation of women in professional and political positions of power are all the work of the women who came before.   Feminism has always been about social justice and social equity, and we find  today the work of Civil Rights undone is where the energy of feminism lives in Black Lives Matter.  Sexism and racism begin always with the exclusion of the other seen as a threat to prevailing power.    Marriage Equality in 35 states is a major win for Civil Rights and Women’s Rights,  But those left behind, the women and the people of color, may be the next level of identifying and bringing the needed light and attention to the wounded people abandoned by unsustainable economic dynamics .

  New family patterns have emerged that include a variety of ways in which people hold and define their lives.  Who people marry and if they marry are new questions with new answers as we move forward.  The dignity and individual expression of living life as we choose for men and women is the move toward a better world most agree.  And yet, there is a serious attempt to take women’s rights back to restrictions and limitations lived through before women’s right to choose and birth control.  Guttmacher Institute described in 2011 as the War on Women’s Reproductive Rights.   In 50 states, there are 1100- reproductive revisions designed to restrict access to abortion and birth control services in in 24 states.  Republicans in the house are waging a war on women through attempts to deny birth control in the Affordable Health Care system; their efforts are to take not just women but the law itself back to what was gained by Roe VS Wade in 1973.  These legislative proposals from Georgia, Texas and Pennsylvania as well as Louisiana, Ohio and North Carolina are designed to take women back, not forward and ultimately society back not forward to the future we’ve left behind.

Knowing how we have come this distance considering the magic and the mastery that directed the course of women’s liberation and civil rights brings a stark recognition of the value of these past fifty years.  And an urgency  to keep what has been attained, and reach deeper and harder for those left behind.  Affirmative Action ended in 1984, but there is talk of bringing it back.  There is also a movement to train and teach women and young black boys and girls to code and enter the tech world with its cavernous need for workers as unlimited potential is the direction of that world.  Yes We Code is such an organization with Start Ups all over the country bringing inventors and youth together unleashing the imagination and competency accessible in this union.  Further the goal of feminism has always been since Seneca Falls in the 1920’s a solution to the people thrown away in prisons.  Prison Reform is at the front of the work going forward for  those who aspire for a world that represents the goals of humanitarianism, peace and justice.   That is the power we discuss in this book.

This work is dedicated to all the women making the effort to include themselves, bring their talents, desires and wants to their world and our world.  The new woman today is an expression of bringing their eyes and heart to meet the unmet challenges for humanity. Their power to language and shoulder the means to free themselves, and in turn to free others.     To all the women and men who work  to lift the corners of darkness and fear in the glaring light of racism and sexism, this is the new world we require.   Ferguson, Baltimore, Oakland, New York City are not the exceptions, the people there have exposed the substantial work left to do to fulfill the goals of the Civil Rights Bill, and free men and women from the bigotry that robs them of their own peace.   That truly is the power we will need to meet the challenges ahead.

 

 

 

 

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World War II-birth control and the New Deal

Against the State, AGainst the church, against the silence of the medical profession, against the machinery of dead institutions of the past, the woman of today arises.

 Margaret Sanger 1940 

WORLD WAR II-the New Deal and birth control

For the women born in 1940, sex was dangerous.  There was no support for choosing to be pregnant or not.  Sixteen million men and women were in World War II and 8 out of 10 high school graduates were in the military service.  Jobs needed at the shipyards, in the farms and the family businesses, such as my grandfather’s gas and oil business, were managed and run by  600,000 women until the war ended and the men returned.  The New Deal had not come about by President Roosevelt, and so the women and children depended on the extended kin and family and the church as support to them.  There was 4% divorce at that time, and mostly the husband, occasionally the wife left the family and disappeared and were never heard from again.

After the war, 28.6% women worked out of the home, and there was a mixture as people lef their families of origin during the war and then after with the use of the VA loan and the VA  bill for college.  Under FDR and the New Deal, the single family credit and social welfare gave a basis of support for the nuclear family that emerged post World War II.  In general, women did not go to college, drive or own property, serve on juries or lease apartments.  But for the women who did attend college, Home Economics was a major and a minor course considered appropriate.  Feminism, if identified or spoken of, was not a thread throughout the culture and its meaning to most was ambiguous, related to a few women and men who held a standard of equality as a social good, as well as an advance for women.   The pejorative word attributed to women at the time was to point out the lack of what was considered feminine graces and value.

Sexuality studies

It would be the case that Freud studied  the sexuality of women relative to their function in producing children and being a responsive partner to their husbands.  Kinsey and Masters and Johnson took the study of the function of sexuality in the lives of men and women, using scientific methods to measure effects of sexuality, function and dysfunction for both male and female.  But the topic of women’s desire and the  emotional content relative to women and their sexuality would be considered much after women had access to birth control in 1964, Civil Rights and Roe VS Wade in 1973.

The Mystique and the pill

The consciousness and the history of women’s sexuality evolved from the early days of Margaret Sanger raised the issue of comstockery.  Women being used to bare children to work on the farms providing their own free labor.  Then in 1951 at age 72, Margaret Sanger got a small grant for Gregory Pincus and the Worchester Foundation to research the process of ovulation with injections of progesterone that prohibited ovulation and pregnancy.   G. D. Searle also engaged in the process of the study of progesterone to address birth control.  However, it was Carl Djerassi in Mexico City who created the progesterone pill.  Again, the focus for women to be in control of their ovulation to manage their family size was a new idea whose time had come because of the relentless and passionate work of Margaret Sanger for over 40 years.  For most women, the issues around their sexuality were contained in the effort to be pregnant when unable to conceive, or the attempt to get help from their family doctors to monitor their cycles and pregnancies.

By 1961, birth control was still illegal in Connecticut but Dr. C. Lee Buxton, the Chairman of the Yale Medical School of Obstetrics and Gynecology, but finding a way to help women conceive was very much the effort of the medical community.  In the process of identifying the means to enhance potential pregnancy through progesterone, the unintentional consequence was the established knowledge that ovulation could be monitored and managed.   Women talked to their doctors to get the news of the availability of birth control pills.    By 1963, 1.2 million American women used the pill.  By 1967 12.5 million women world wide would use the pill for birth control.  It would be in 1972, that the federal government ruled that the states could not prohibit unmarried women from the use of the pill for birth control.

But what did women want in the bedroom and out of the bedroom was the question that now came up in the conversation.  In 1963, the best seller book written by Betty Friedan, “The Feminine Mystique” began a conversation among women, in pairs, in groups and ultimately in a movement about this intimate part of their lives  and how it connected to their personal liberty.  Cheryl Hite and the Hite Report, Erica Jung and Fear of Flying also created a new awareness for women about themselves.  They talked with each other and validated experiences about their own sexuality, their desires, their feelings about their sexuality.  They did not take this conversation to  authorities such as doctors and experts.  Even in the realm of sexuality, the communication between women about their lives has been a basis for changes in the identity and behavior chosen by some.  Always woman to woman there has been the igniting and inspiration to fulfill their commitment to liberty, deepened by their exposure to each other  from the days of the Suffragettes to the world we live in today.

This shift in culture, in knowledge and practice of  women determining their choices in their area of their sexuality was not entirely welcome by all women and a great deal of society considered the consequences of this social change.   Newspapers and magazines featured articles about the threats to the family in giving women more choices about their sex lives. The perceived threat was that women would be like men with this new freedom and would in their freedom challenge current morality and standards.

The New Deal also changed the family structure. Prior to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s social security, aid to children, and social services, family and only family and church were responsive to concerns, difficulties and finances of how people took care of themselves. With the New Deal, and World War II’s Veteran’s Loans, a new middle class would result with new homes and the ability to gain access to middle class through the VA educational benefit. The individual could function outside of the group, and mobilize toward a new concept of the single family unit.

WHERE WE LIVE

While concern for a new society that might result from freeing women of the constraints prior to birth control,  a deep divide  among women who didn’t identify with the strident provocative tone of the Women’s Movement in the late 60’s provoked a schism, and had the women’s movement ultimately lost impact over time.   The polarities among the women, in families, in social groups, in colleges drove the national conversation further into conflict.   1973 would widen the gap even further with the Roe VS Wade decision.  Just as today in the current political atmosphere, there is challenge and conflict over the value of Planned Parenthood over 40 years later, and women choosing their destiny.  Further, the freedom of women and their choices are being challenged in over 40 states within the nation who are attempting to go back in time and bring back the constraints, restrictions to women’s ability to choose to bear children.

The new family, the new woman and the new social consciousness resulting from the 1970’s has 41% of women being the breadwinner in their families. Women are now able to conceive with a donor rather than a partner. The choice to marry is not a necessity for survival, parenting or sustaining a livelihood or being part of a community. Clusters of communities based on interests are a common core to many lives, not at the exclusion of family, but in addition. 2013 was reported by PEW research to be the first year that the majority of the population held the status of not married.   A new group identified are individuals who live with one or more unrelated people. The future has taken power not just to women in life choices, but clearly to men and women of all ages. The New Deal and birth control opened these doors to individual choice and destiny.

 

 

 

 

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2014 Supreme Court vs Roe VS Wade

images-4        Politics of feminism:  2014   

There is no simple reform.  It really is a revolution.  Sex and race because they are easy and visible and visible differences that have been primary ways of organizing human beings into superior/inferior groups and into cheap labor on which this system depends. We are talking about a society in which there will be no roles other than those chosen or those earned.  We’re really talking about humanism.”   Gloria Steinem

The Supreme Court’s  2014 decision to reduce the distance between those who protest abortion, and those who using the benefit of abortion with their protestations is an indication that Roe VS Wade is under attack.  It puts at risk, some of the distance from the 1973 decision of that Supreme Court with just the few feet taken away  that provide a buffer between those on either side of the question of abortion.  Many see this result from the Supreme Court  as yet one more attempt by those who do not agree with the law of the land:  Roe VS Wade 1973.

The work of the years of social change and legal process came through the work of many who lives in the atmosphere of revolution and what the 60’s were about.  Women, since the days of the earliest feminist gathering in Seneca Falls in 1848, had always been about reform-in the prisons, in the factories, on the streets.  But the turbulence of the Viet Nam War and Civil Rights movement in the South provoked participation by women.  They worked again for reform in a war that spent young men’s lives in Viet Nam, reform in civil rights if not in the cities of Montgomery and Memphis, then behind the scenes organizing and supporting the civil rights action through protests and demonstrations.   Who and what was important was in the process of change and flux and  and that chaos  stirred throughout the country.  Nationwide democracy was challenged in the streets of the cities and college campuses  by a counter culture that questioned the status quo of authority.  Many universities across the country, in the college classrooms, and from churches , a movement made up of people working to promote the end of the draft, against the war came together.  Historians note that women in anti war and  civil rights movement began to bring to bring to focus the principles and demands of the women’s movement in mid 60’s.

1964 also brought  the birth control pill into the doctor’s offices and into the reach of married women, allowing choice in pregnancy and childbirth. Women gaining the right to birth control provided an undeniable liberty that freed them to determine their life’s course was how it was perceived at the time.  Around the topic of women’s rights, a counter culture  developed in how women perceived their roles as women and as members of society.  In 1964 also,  the Civil Rights Act for the end of discrimination based on sex, country of origin or sex.  With it, the  Affirmative Action law which required employers and colleges  to account for entry of those who had been excluded due to race or sex.  The effects of the factor of birth control, women’s’ rights and access given to minorities in jobs and eduction provided a whole new platform that brought about the world we live in today.  It is a work in process for sure.  But more to the point, it is under attack in policy and practice in various states of the nation.  The process and goals of humanity to allow  sexual freedom and the demands for equality are underway and a tedious balance politically, economically and as is evidenced by the Supreme Court decision today, not a certainty.  The buffer that has been there for women to not be personally attacked for their choices has now been reduced.

Valuing how it came to be that women gained the right to choose may an unknown to the generation born after 1977 because they have always lived with those rights and privileges.  How was it then for women, and the society that brought this change of freedom to choose to women.  In the late 60’s, Television news was full of racial struggle, war in Viet Nam, and the protests and demonstrations around the country around civil rights and the war.  Families were driven apart by the different ways these conflicts were held; those who supported the change in the conditions of race and inequality and those who saw the threat of changes they weren’t comfortable with,  women “being just like men” was one such threat.  No other choice but to go to war and serve in war was considered to be the only possible alternative in the post world war II world.  Yet the turmoil and violence around the war in Southeast Asia yes, but on the college campuses presented the marks of a very difficult time in our democracy. Women came to have a voice through their participation in the antiwar and civil rights movement, and brought feminism into its second wave of changing the culture inside out.

The loud and brash women speaking from the black and white televisions, the Bella Abzug’s, Gloria Steinem’s, Jane Fonda’s were considered by some to be dangerous, by many just and not taken seriously by women as well as men.  First Lady Jackie Kennedy in 1965 shared  in a television interview that her husband found these women espousing liberation to be  “unfeminine, and thought they might be lesbians.”  The country was in an uproar as roles and choices by men and women were being recalibrated, reconceived and for many reborn.  Many women did not identify with the movement, and alienation to the strident demands of feminism did not resonate with all women.  Yet as the opportunity to higher education and job advantages of Affirmative Action took hold, women gravitated if not to the women’s movement to experiencing the value of being the director of their own fate.

But this day, June 29th, 2014, today we have in every day’s event, news of abortion centers that are under fire, state legislation bills are attempting to reduce choice for women’s ability to choose, and ultimately to continue on the path of this portal to bright the goals of equality and empowerment to those systematically excluded.  It is clear that many women having had the freedom to choose their destiny are not about to turn back now.  But it may be time for those unaware of these political moves and their consequences to know this struggle is underway.  The argument that women need to have decisions made for them was common in the 1920’s.  Just like removing the opportunity for education for girls in Somalia makes sense if you want to reduce women’s access to full participation and choice as if that choice alone is somehow evil.  Many women have not chosen and will not choose abortion, and they don’t need the protection of a law that takes that choice away from them.  Their integrity will guide them, just as it has over the past years since 1973.  A recent film Obvious Child renders a good look at the process and integrity involved in those choices.  Women don’t need to be directed to make the choices right for them, and the Supreme Court’s decision today have ruled by reducing that barrier, the number of feet between vulnerable women, and those who show them terrible projections to discourage their decision.  To harass, attack and humiliate these women for their decision just a few feet closer may be just a few more feet closer to the privilege women have held since 1973 and Roe VS Wade.

 

 

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