Happy Women’s Equality Day!
August 26, 2015, was Women’s Equality Day, and this year marks the 95th anniversary of that turning point in US history when women won the right to vote. Given the current buzz about upcoming elections, whether Donald Trump makes a good candidate or just good television, whether or not President Obama giving his “blessing” to Joe Biden (should he choose to run for the Democratic ticket) is the equivalent of giving his endorsement, and all the other noise in the field, it is critical to listen to what is being said, and just as importantly, take action, adding our own voices to the fray.
Women like Susan B. Anthony (with whom I proudly – if wholly coincidentally – share a birthday) are credited for spearheading the movement, fighting as suffragist and abolitionist throughout the latter half of the 1800s and into the 1900s for all people, regardless of gender or race, to have the right to vote and more.
When election season rolls around, there’s one election-oriented term that really bugs me: the concept of “women’s issues,” for the sole reason that, by implication, it means that there are issues that are decidedly NOT for women. It’s as if people think women are so myopic or self absorbed that they only care about issues that reflect their own bodies, salaries or children. I don’t know about you, but I care about what the stock market is doing; I care about immigration; I care about what we do with the military; I care about prison reform… Those are “women’s issues” because they’re my issues too. And for that matter, issues like women’s healthcare, early childhood education and pay equity won’t ever be successfully resolved until they are just as seriously viewed as “men’s issues.” The discussions need to be inclusive if they are going to be fruitful.
So it is up to each of us, male and female, to make our voices heard. To contact our local, state and national representatives and make sure that they understand our positions and do the job we elected them to do. If we don’t, then we have no one to blame but ourselves when they fail to represent our interests.
For those whose cynicism has taken over and who doubt whether their single vote would really make a difference, I offer this: the only guarantee you have for sure is that if you do not exercise your right to vote, then your vote certainly will not count. If you choose to silence yourself, to give up your power, I guarantee someone else will quickly volunteer to speak for you.
So let’s honor the years and the lives that were given in the fight to give us all this right to let our voices be heard and counted. Find your voice. Prepare to cast your vote. Happy Women’s Equality Day!