Tag Archives: civil rights

The Woman’s March 2017: “Check Your Privilege”

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The New York Time’s article today on the Women’s March Opens A Raw Dialogue emphasized women coming together to voice and represent nationwide, young and old, a range of interpretations of why women are showing up and marching. There are those who want to represent feminism, women’s rights and civil rights, with a full throated response to the Inaguration of a new President. With him, a new administration that has at the least shown ambiquity and a shift away from the trajectory of civil rights attained by women, the LGBTQ community, children of illegal immigrants, and those who represent the Middle East community within our country. Everyone is invited to this inclusive event. The Woman’s March in cities all around the country, initiated in DC, San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, Atlanta and many, many cities of the nation is happening on Saturday January 21st, 2017.

The Rise of the Woman – The Rise of the Nation is the context provided by the DC Women’s March. There are meetings and more meetings to make banners that say “He is not My President” and angry disappointed voices that want to initiate and stand against all that the new President-elect has represented over the past election. There is a call for the return to feminism of the 1970’s and engage newly toward the equality that has never been fully represented in our country. There is the “Check Your Privilege” conversation between women of color to the white women as they engage together for the Women’s March in DC. Even as the unmet goals of equality, such as the ERA and the reality of what has not been gained over the years since the social revolution of the 1970’s emerge, there is anxiety about what has been achieved and may be lost in the experience of most of those who are planning to participate in a Women’s March on January 21st across the country. There is the swell of a huge potentially destructive wave collecting anger and confusion as well as mystery in the mix as the Presidential power ends with President Barack Obama, and begins with Donald Trump, and the GOP agenda.

Where will you be January 21st is the question being asked of women friends across the country. My sisters and sisters-in-laws and friends in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and DC , and those friends and colleagues around me in the Bay Area are together, even as they are of different mindsets about the election and its results. All have consideration for the fact that a new day is coming, and it is not clear what will be asked of us, but we we must all meet the future with resourcefulness, clear eyes and even open heart. In the voices of all, there is the willingness to stand for what is important to us, as the women of this country. That is what the Woman’s March is about for many of us. Even as it is about Women’s Rights, the fifty-three years process where women filled out the potential of responsibility and choice in how they live their lives, what lies ahead is unclear. A Multigenerational Woman’s Gathering in Marin County was initiated almost immediately after the surprise victory of Trump over Hillary, their agendas could not be further apart on women’s rights and civil rights, and the young women reported panic attacks and huge grief at the news of Trump’s election. The coming together of young professional women who have only known what it is to have those rights, and their voice, juxtaposed to the women who participated in the process of gaining and living out women’s rights from Civil Rights, Birth Control and Roe vs Wade. Each woman, a rich source of attitudes and viewpoints about the challenges ahead, presented perspective onto our role as women given the platform presented by the President Elect over the two years of his campaign.

What we came to was to was the value and responsibility we felt to present our bodies and ourselves in our stand for Women’s Rights are Human Rights. The history of how women came through to their power reveals the fact that through that process, the lesbian and gay community gained access to express and represent, and direct their power. The struggles in race and in sex over the decades have a correlation and powerful mutuality, evidenced in the thread of equality constrained or given access to liberty through the Civil Rights Bill. We can have this Woman’s March represent a new threshold, a new potential. I will be joining my sisters and colleagues and friends in the Woman’s March to represent what we bring to ourselves, each other and the county. What it means to me is that we are united in our stand to move forward, include more diversity and differences to achieve the whole of who we are as a country. What this means to me is we renew our investment and enthusiasm for human rights, measure our stands to correlate with our immense capacity for bringing life and hope to ourselves and the world.

Check our Privilege, not because we are white, but because the real privilege is our ability to speak and bring the best of who we are as a country to the world to meet this new transition. Efforts and gains have been made and we do not want to see them reduced due to political change of who is in office as President: educating law enforcement officers, reducing the prison population, improving the means for better education and opportunity to our children in all zip codes, feeding and caring for the large number of children and seniors: these are the priorities we do not want to see lost or reduced. This is who and what the Women’s March will represent to many of us. This is where we can achieve our greatest victory.

 

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“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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1890-current: Early Feminism in Europe

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 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.

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1960’s New Sexuality for Women and Men

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1940-1970  REWRITE INCLUDING UNFINISHED FEMINISM PERSPECTTIVE

 

For the women born in 1940, they have to know that the women who informed them of their roles as women came from the place of their own experience where the number of children and the conditions of their lives were a consequence of the man and the family and the community in which they lived.  By 1950, as the highest level of babies were born in the United States after World War II, new paths emerged.  It’s hard to imagine what life was like during World War II where most people’s families  hung in the balance of the men at war and the sacrifices everyone made to support the war.

POST WORLD WAR II

Many men returned broken, many did not return at all.  For the women who had been working in the factories, farms and shipyards, those jobs were returned to the men and they returned home.  The VA loan provided the means for many to leave their families of origin and the single family home purchase, as well as the things needed for the home-the refrigerators, the sofas, the toasters, and produced the post war boom in the economy very much needed.  This is where in 1963,  Betty Freiden’s book  The Feminine Mystique opened the conversation with women about the “Cult of Domesticity.”  First a rumor among the powerful women in New York who were openly and stridently challenging the “status quo” but then a gradual revisiting occurred across the country of who women were and what they wanted.

covered in __________________________

Prior to this time, the conversation about women and their sexuality was framed in the medical context of function or dysfunction.   The function of sex to procreate and without the benefit of choice had women again rely on each other to find their own way of dealing with their husbands’ and society’s expectations of them.  The general issue was that women were not supposed to want to have sex out of marriage and so if there was no sex in the marriage, neither party had a place to take their concerns except their doctor or their chaplain.  The conversation brought up by Betty Frieden had women talk to each other about their own personal sexual experience, and the myth of “married bliss” was exposed.

The Dichotomy

THE ANTI WAR MOVEMENT:1964-70

Attitudes would change drastically during this period of time.  Life magazine did articles  on alternative lifestyles that were springing up.  It wasn’t just about philosophies, but had a very intense center if experimentation with male and female roles.   Young men drafted every day would face a war in Viet Nam that they neither understood, nor supported.  Prior to this time, the small voices of anti war rhetoric were an outgroup not even recognized by the population.  But young men torn from their families and communities with a war that became increasingly alien to them, and ultimately to the general population. It was messy.  Families had fights among themselves about their positions regarding the Viet Nam War.  It seemed unAmerican to not support the war. It was the young men who were drafted, and college campuses began to engage in protests against the war, and some engaged in  the Anti War Movement across the country.

The culture of politics and sexuality 1970

Bringing the women together for the anti war and civil rights  movement provided a format for women to consider their own roles in society, as well as to challenge the status quo of following along with the country’s attitudes about the war and about civil rights.   Jane Fonda in her antiwar activities became the focus of national attention in her kacki jeans with braless t shirt, no make up and long untethered hair.  From college campus to the  film industry and the media,  from California to New York, a social movement protesting the war and demonstrations that resulted in Ohio State where a college student was killed had the country aware of change underway the late 60’s.

Jane Fonda speak in 1970 at Stanford University,  conveyed the message of protest well as she spoke of her genuine support of the young soldiers who were dying in Viet Nam.  Her real intention was to support men and help share the burden the men were carrying for the country.  The long hair and blue jean clad young men on college campus represented the fact that the social and sexual identity of women and men was impacted by the changes underway in the country.  Masculine and feminine roles, with both men and women reevaluating their roles and their choices in determining the course of their lives and their  own choices in sexuality.  Life magazine had articles about the risk of loss of sexuality with men and women dressing the same with their blue jeans and t shirts, communal living and operating with the same level of sexual freedom.     Peace, justice and love were not just what the young people embroidered on their t shirts, this was a lifestyle they hoped to bring to the next generation.  Free of racial and sexual prejudice, out of the achievement orientation of the 50’s, they sought a new generation’s dreams of an equalitarian  society.

The Youngbloods,  The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Bob  Dylan were the messengers of the new society seeking freedom and a world without war.  The clothing styles at I Magnin’s and the social pages of the San Francisco Chronicle conveyed the message of the potential of this new society of brotherhood and love.  

As it turned out, the sexual revolution of the late 60’s did impact the standards and behavior of the culture.  However, by the 80’s the communes were emptying, people were back in the harness of the lifestyles they had found lacking in imagination and creativity.  People had lives, they needed paychecks, and men and women went to work to have those lives that spilled out into the suburbs from the cities.

See what Barefoot frontrunners is all about

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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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1940-1960: barefoot frontrunners and the new feminists

Revolutionary SistersThe Barefoot Frontrunner breaks the rules, finds her own path, and leads to places that have never been before.  The Barefoot Frontrunner’s response  to the pain in the world is to take the step out and towards a place lacking support, guidance or protection.  The indignities and injuries of the world are made visible by their simple acts of courage.  The Barefoot Frontrunner takes their vision of the world, and makes ours better.  These changes came from cracks in the solidity of positions held in society.

World War II presented the opportunity for change because women went to work for the  100’s of thousands of men overseas in the factories and on the farms.  The Anti-war and civil rights movements brought women together and the effects off the dissension and conflict gave access to the break of agreement in how women perceived themselves and their place in the world.   But it was all very personal also for the frontrunners.  Without protection or structure, establishing a foundation of support among themselves and in society, they made individual choices.  Decisions made that altered their lives came at a cost often, and the price for personal liberation came through recognition of the social changes around them.   Doors were opened sometimes accidentally, as in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 where the addendum for female liberation was thrown into the bill by those hoping that addition would kill the passing of the Civil Rights Bill.  Equal Rights would follow but living their lives blurred the personal and political lines that supported their passage to liberation.

WHO ARE THE WOMEN

Looking at the lives of women, the frontrunners from 1960’s,  there were some ahead of the line, some following and some observing with reservation about the wisdom of the changes they saw underway.  If you had a television, or read a newspaper, the evidence of chance was there but not all women felt called to participate.  This work, Barefoot frontrunners seeks to provide the historical context and the personal experience of the women who lived this history.   Barefoot frontrunners emphasizes that the place of women in our society, and their freedom to choose is a relatively new adjustment in political and legal structures of our society.  Barefoot frontrunners seeks to alarm those who may not have noticed that what  has been accomplished is currently in question in 40 states, where the right to choose is being challenged.    The relevance of women given the privilege of choice and the support of society to full equality in the work place that came from the social revolution to the halls of congress and in the courts was a passage we must not  forget.

There is the question about our responsibility in educating and supporting women throughout the world who remain in sexual and social roles without freedom or dignity, and empowering of women struggling in poverty and lacking choice and opportunity right here in this country.

Where the work of liberation and equality advances here and in the world is where the next frontrunners will be found, and where the work that has been done continues.  In the board rooms, on their jobs, at the PTA meetings and in political groupings, their eyes are on the prize of women world wide having access to expressing their lives in the work place and in their homes, and bringing to their sisters world wide the privilege of self determination.

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2012: structure and study of barefoot frontrunners

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Where are we going, where have we been:  The history of feminism, suffragettes to millineals,  is about the women and the men who established  the measures of women’s rights to determine the use of their bodies, and civil rights bringing equality and access to the role of women in the world.  Fifty years after the Civil Rights Bill, there is the challenge to reduce those rights that is not a whisper but a roar in forty state bills in process that would limit not just abortion, but birth control.   The barefoot frontrunners are the women who have led and continue to provide the path to equality, stepping out on unpaved road to bring the gains of equality and dignity to humanity.  Nobel Laureate Nelson Mandela stated “freedom cannot be achieved unless the women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression.”  Women’s rights are human rights and the only future for humanity.

Where we have been is the story:  the  historical context of  the sexual and political advances of women  and their intimate stories as they lived through this period of change inside and out.   Where we are going is  to carry forward the feminism that addresses the betterment of humanity.  What has been given by the previous generation falls on the next to maintain and move forward.  

 

THE INTERVIEWS

There are many definitions of feminism, for the purposes of Barefoot frontrunners, the inclusion of all, men or women,  who seek equality and dignity for all human beings is a good place to start.  The history of women’s rights as lived through by the women, from Baby Boomers to millenials, here and throughout the world is fresh terrain.  Those women had the benefit of  women’s rights in 1965 through a civil rights act, but brought the possibilities from the act into their lives and  may or may not be aware of how those benefits came to be.  The Barefoot frontrunners took on the rough terrain and  found their way through trial and error to establish their lives.

Another aspect to the showing the history, social and political, of sexual liberation are their personal and intimate stories.  The women’s movement as seen through the historians, like Ruth Rosen of University of California and Estelle Freedman of Stanford is still the essential to the education and representation of feminism throughout the world.  The work is not done, but in process.  As Estelle Freedman states it, feminism has been a middle class phenomena and  has not reached into the areas of the world where women suffering poverty and lack of education.

The continuum of this process of feminism corresponds to the level of humanity and dignity world wide.  The story of the barefoot frontrunners, where we are and how we got here, and where we need to go to expand women’s rights is the content and the perspective of this work.

The value of the stories of the women is to reflect the process of feminism is ongoing, showing up in different parts of our society.  These stories of the women who came through the sexual and political liberation of the past fifty years.  The work of feminism for the women who found their freedom and self expression reminds those who do not know the history, personal or political, the cost born by those who came first to these new interpretations of being a woman.  The women born in 1940 who responded to the invitation to be interviewed in every case had triumphed over the conditions, limitations, obstacles, hardships and disappointments.  There are many women who would have a different perspective and a different outcome, but this self selected group represents the positive deviants of the women who came through the sociopolitical changes of the past fifty years relative to their being a woman.

Positive deviance by definition is a description of those at one end of the continuum:  those who thrive, are inspired by and engaged with satisfaction in a process that could produce a variety of results, like women’s rights.   The fuller picture of those turning 70 would entail inclusion of  conditions resulting from limitations of access, opportunity and education and a range of issues related to health, social or marital, economic disparity.

What these women interviewed for Barefoot Frontrunners brought to the perspective was in fact that conditions of health and well being, education and economic vitality indicated either the positive or negative outcome of aging.     One aspect that was evident was that the  women interviewed  identified as being innovative and open to a variety of ways to problem solve.  Those interviewed came from a  group that meets monthly for over 35 years.  Rarely the same people attend, they are from all over the country, all ages, all stages, middle class the common denominator is being willing to risk exposure by presenting their question, and open to discovery in terms of the response they get from the group.

From this aggregate, the women who stepped forward relished the opportunity to tell their story though they were clear about the condition of anonymity as an interview process subject.  Consistently, as is probably self evident in their volunteering for the research, they were pleased with their current state of well being with a sense of security in the world.

Still they reported that for  each gain, each law, each standard, there were challenges; they described obstacles, obstructions, imposed limitations prior to sexual and political freedom, and then the new problems that came with civil rights and affirmative action.  They reflected on their responsibility in defining new paths.  Each spoke of not wanting a life “like my mother” in one form or another.  But they didn’t  know what would be asked of them with new freedom, and if they could meet the needs of the situations they encountered.  They reported both significant losses and thrilling gains in their passage through the years of social change.

THE HISTORICAL TIMELINE: 1940-1965

All the significant changes in law and policy have happened  in the past 49 years for women, most specifically the pivotal year of 1964 when birth control became accessible through the work of Margaret Sanger who opened the first women’s clinic in 1939 and is the founder of Planned Parenthood.   The addition of women’s rights to the  civil rights act in 1965 became the law of the land, not necessarily the law in practice.

CHANGE AND TRANSFORMATION

How did civil rights and birth control impact women? Unlike today with the ongoing 24/7 news of every place in the world and every significant news item publicized on our phones, on our computers with the newspaper being the slow route, not all women knew or participated in the process of gaining the benefits of women’s rights.  Change is chaotic, and the path and the directions for living life  through the transitions and conflict was welcomed and experienced by some, not all women, or men in the late 60’s.   It was a time of challenging sexual roles by both men and women.   Ultimately the civil rights act and affirmative action sought to provide a more level playing ground.  Given the mothers of the women born in the 40’s could not drive, own property or have access to birth control, this new world of opportunities to discern one’s own choices was confronting to many women.    

Prior to this period of liberation, women were taken in and cared for in the event of loss of husband by  extended family and churches.   Those days were before FDR and the New Deal with public policies to aid the family.   Divorce was rare,  most often the father just went away and left the family.   So change looked risky, liberation and freedom were concepts not all women embraced.  So some women led, some followed and some watched the black and white television reports of women aggressively speaking of equal rights in the 1960’s and didn’t identify with the process at all. Alongside the women who made the changes happen, these women also are barefoot frontrunners. 

The Barefoot Frontrunner

A profile emerges of who the barefoot frontrunners are today and throughout history.  She breaks the rules, finds her own path, and leads to places without the benefit of social agreement as well as those where there are legal grounds, but little social approval.  The Barefoot Frontrunner’s response  to the pain in the world is to take the step out and towards a place lacking support, guidance or protection.  The indignities and injuries of the world are made visible by their simple acts of courage.  The Barefoot Frontrunner takes their vision of the world, and expands the awareness and discomfort of the world to inequality and indignity.  Feminism has always been about reform, a social reform:  reform of prisons, a reform to temperance, equal pay, equal access to education and inclusion in academia and the job market.  Feminism has always been about women and men who seek equality through change.  Changes always come in response to the cracks in the solidity of positions held in society.  The struggle over the Viet Nam war and racism provided the conflict and a dawning consciousness that led to the heightened cohesion and action of the women’s movement to facilitate women’s rights.

WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE

16.1 million Americans were drafted into World War II on average for sixteen months.  Their jobs in the shipyards, in the factories, on the farms were taken by women who were needed for the war effort.   Rosie the Riveter is symbolic of all the women who took the jobs for the men who entered the war.  Workers’ rights came about during this period of time in the ship factories of Richmond, California, as well as other locations.  Many of the women who came to California left South Carolina, Georgia and Texas because of the jobs available to women at that time.  Those workers’ rights gained disappeared  once the soldiers returned to their jobs. Women were sent home in 1945, and the FHA single family homes launched a new era of independence and relocation for many. The return of the vets and the single family home purchases and baby boom boosted the sagging economy post World War II.

The VA loans for all the soldiers who returned offered access to home purchases and college entry allowing social mobility producing the bustling 1950’s. How were the women faring shows up could be a factor in  the highest recorded level of alcoholism attributed to  dissatisfaction that showed up in the mental and physical health of women .  Masters and Johnsons (Sexual History) Chapter 4) did a significant study on the sexual dysfunctions of unhappy wives. Not directly concerned with their unhappiness, but wanting to have the women more responsive to their roles of wife and mother.

It would be the Viet Nam war that allowed women to come out of their homes again in the mid 1960’s.   Protests, and the Anti-war and civil rights movements brought women together.  Reform of the war that was killing so many of America’s youth in Viet Nam, and the tragedies of three young girls in a Babtist Church in Alabama provoked the women participating in the anti war and civil rights protests.  They began talking to each other and noticed they were relegated to “women’s work of getting coffee and the paper work done” and began to invest themselves  in the Women’s Movement.  Also at this time, the Commission of Women’s Issues which President John F Kennedy brought into existence produced a document identifying 47 Sexual Injuries to women in the work place and in the home.   This group would ultimately leave the government and throw their considerable skills in public life to the work of the Women’s Movement. ( Ruth Rosen: The World Split Open )

Meanwhile Betty Frieden’s The Feminine Mystique challenged women to consider a whole other level of understanding about their sexuality.    For those women,  their roles, society’s view of them and the contradictions they experienced, a new awareness of themselves emerged.  It was far from comfortable, particularly women towards women, to challenge the a priori of what was considered to be a successful woman at that time.  Those that did respond led themselves on a path with no guaranteed destination.  Without protection or structure, barefoot frontrunners, these women were ridiculed in the news reports as unfeminine, with family members who distanced themselves from their “strident and bossy” ways.  Even within the Women’s Movement, there was considerable conflict over what it meant to be liberated and who was and who wasn’t truly free.  In the fray of these conflicts, tv show hosts and comedians made light of the struggle.

For the majority of non urban women who were not in a college environment, there was no real understanding or knowledge of the need for the struggle underway, no way to assimilate what seemed alien to what they knew from the world around them.  The effect on these women was to distance themselves from the stereotype feminists.  As some made  new decisions, taking on new responsibilities and dealing with the hard work of establishing new identities, most women at that time steered clear of the conflict within themselves as well as the building of  external pressure from a changing society.

For all women, recognition of the doors opened with the  Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Chapter 6) and Affirmative Action  which brought more women into college and into jobs previously not available to them.  Life was changing across the United States, but most emphatically in California, New York and Chicago.

BACK TO THE FUTURE

Women’s rights – feminism is a  work in progress.  The conditions for the values and practices of women’s rights are unevenly distributed outside the United States and within.  Those conditions that enhance the developments of feminism, that is equality and dignity to all people, are reducing poverty and making education available for all women in addition to having sexual education and responsibility in the hands of women and their choices about the use of their bodies.

Women have come a long way.   More women entered college as early as 1975, and that is the standard now.  Women have entered business and political life with success since the 80’s aided by the Affirmative Action policies of the late 70’s.  An equal number of women are head of households currently as their male partners, and 40% of the family incomes have women contributing equally to the household income.  Marriage is a choice, having children is a choice for women young and older today.(Chapter 5)  Women have their own 401K’s, their own health insurance. as the Barefoot frontrunners sample survey indicates,  women of social security age, most are self supporting, and will work for the remainder of their lives.  The past fifty years of women’s rights have changed the rules and the roles, but not for women in the areas of poor education and poverty anywhere in the United States.  Not for the women in countries where education of girls is prohibited.

THE WAR ON WOMEN

Today  40  states  are attempting to reduce women’s rights through bills that outlaw birth control as well as abortion.  Most incongruous is the fact that abortions have diminished by 40% at the lowest level in thirty years because Planned Parenthood, schools and public awareness has given the means for girls and women to be responsible for potential pregnancies.  Therefore, the attempt to do away with birth control and abortion would only damage the increasing number of girls and women who are being responsible for pregnancy and disease.

Going back to the future is not a destination to aspire to.  It’s important that women coming along are aware of the need to carry forward of the work of previous generations to the freedoms earned by women today.  For the younger generations, gen x-ers or millineals for example, the work of the earlier generations gave them the women’s rights they have always had.    It may not be clear that all the changes that occurred for women and minorities were hard won and at a significant cost, and relatively recent, and sometimes an accidental gain.(Chapter 2)    .  They may or may not be aware of the fact that Planned Parenthood  has been around as long as the quest for freedom and equality for women has been, and has served with dignity and respect women, men and our communities with education and treatment.

So it is the Barefoot frontrunners

The purpose of this book is to provide that history, convey the challenges that have been and still are of concern to women, and the society we all say we want.  Those women in our history and in our world  who demand going forward, bringing equality and civil rights to  women through politics and education throughout the  world are the barefoot frontrunners. That is the future, the transformation, that leads from the vision of inclusion, rather than exclusion, -collaboration rather than competition and sustainability rather than opportunistic use of resources shared by society.   The work ahead will have much more gravitas and meaning if we understand the past, how  the gains have been made that have profoundly impacted the opportunities and choice provided by women’s rights.(Chapter 10)  These gains from the voices and actions of women unwilling to tolerate

conditions that violated  personal dignity and potential are ours to continue, ours to guarantee.

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

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