"My idea of feminism is self-determination, and it's very open-ended; woman has the right to become herself, and do whatever she needs to do."
A couple of weeks ago, I paid a visit to the Rosie The Riveter Memorial in Richmond, California. As far as I know it is the only such memorial in honor of the idyllic WWII icon. It might be small in size, but it packs a punch by way of the powerful images of real women who did more then their share for America. My mother was one of those ladies. She didn't talk much about that time of her life, but I know she counted those years among her most rewarding, both for supporting her country on the home front, and handling herself against the gender discrimination of the men working alongside her.
As I looked at the photos that were displayed in the memorial, of WWII women working in all kinds of industries, I wondered how those women got up every day and went off to the shipyards and the airplane hangers and faced making a much lower wage then the men who had occupied the same jobs in the months before we were plunged into war? It was socially demanded to expect hard work and patriotism from those ladies, and it was taken for granted that if she was both, she would accept the lower pay with supreme gratitude. It wasn't wonderful, but it was expected, and to a certain degree it worked for those of that era.
Here we are, 60 some years later, and women are still making much less then their male counterparts. In fact, women make only about 77% of what men do. Why is that? I can remember the bra burning, and NOW posters of the late 60's and 70's. The debate continued somewhat into the 80's, but by the time the 90's rolled around, you really didn't hear too much about it anymore. Why did the push for equality lose steam? Did we give up? And here's a question for you... are all vagina's created equal?
It disturbs me that there is such a push to put a woman in office, that we will consider voting for any woman who might end up on the ticket. I am hearing on the news, and from other sources, that women in this country will vote for the Republican ticket for no other reason then there is a woman on it. Somehow, to me, that takes all the hard work that women have done since the beginning of the Women's Suffrage Movement, and turns it to something a lot less powerful... something almost trivial.
It seems to me, the push for equality meant more then just putting a woman into a position traditionally held by a man, it meant showing the world that a qualified woman could not just hold those positions, but indeed excel in those jobs. I don't personally believe that Sarah Palin is qualified for the office of vice president. I believe that voting for her would mean a serious setback for the woman's movement in general, in that she is against not just Roe v Wade, but she is also against abortion even in cases of rape or incest. It makes no sense to me.
It shocked me when I heard on World News Tonight the other evening that women showed up for a John McCain rally simply because Sarah Palin was there. They wouldn't have come to hear anything from the contender for president, but they would to hear from the woman. The woman who wouldn't be president. And the really strange thing is, to date, she has said very little about what she stands for outside of Alaskan politics. In fact, more false rumors have been circulated about her, rather then the truth, because she has refused interviews. Although she has agreed to an interview with ABC's World News Tonight anchor, Charles Gibson, for tomorrow, Thursday, September 11th. I have to wonder about the timing.
Look, here's the thing. If we (women) vote this lady into office for no other reason then she is a woman, we will be setting ourselves back 200 years. The war in Iraq is not "God's will" as she asserts, anymore then WWII was. That isn't just a stupid notion, it is a deadly one. War is pretty much mankind made. She grins and waves her NRA card with such glee, and then preaches family values while combining the two into a family activity by shooting animals for sport with her children. When some nut goes on a rampage with a gun and kills an innocent person, is that "GOD's" will also? And while she didn't actually engage in book banning, she posed the question to the librarian in her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, and isn't that sad? There is one other thing about her that really disturbs me. You know that rumor about her belonging to a group that sought to succeed from the union? Well, she never belonged to that group, but her husband did. Sigh.
When you add it all up... is that really who you want in the White House? As I stood, looking at the photos of women who weren't defined by their politics, working side by side for a greater good, I felt inspired, but when I go home, and listen to women of my own generation willing to throw all that hard work that came before us away, I just feel empty. And to a certain degree... embarrassed that we would follow in the steps of some men, who would vote for someone solely because of their gender. It's a waste of the privilege of voting.
Votes For Women Timeline
Why Do Women Earn Less?
"Rosie The Riveter Memorial"
September 3, 2008