An editorial cartoon I saw this week had Newt Gingrich wearing a red baseball cap with lettering proclaiming, “Make Women Mute Again.” I thought we had already fought that battle, but I guess there are significant numbers out there who are donning their full battle rattle (slang for combat gear) and taking turkey peeks (slang for looking over walls or around corners) to determine the best approaches to wax (kill) feminism. So it’s Ground Hog Day again.
As these warriors who are flanking us see it, women belong in the kitchen and in the bedroom. The reality is that most women will never be relegated to that narrow view of their roles, will never be muted.
The U.S. Census Bureau indicates that women outnumber men in the U.S. population and in college enrollment. Women are more likely to vote and comprise about half of the work force.
In my college American literature class, we just completed a section on women’s voices, and such study indicates how far women have come in this country.
I’d like to share a few of those dates with you and ask you if you want to turn back the clock (It’s important to remember that states’ rights have differed in regard to some of these issues until the Supreme Court has ruled, forcing all states to abide by their decisions):
• 1920 — Women gain the right to vote.
• 1965 — The ban on birth control for married couples was lifted.
• 1972 — The ban on birth control for unmarried couples was lifted.
• 1972 — Title IX prohibits discrimination in sports on the basis of sex.
• 1973 — Supreme Court declares women’s right to an abortion.
• 1974 — The Equal Credit Opportunity Act was passed.
• 1975 — Supreme Court declares it illegal to ban women from serving as jurors.
• 1978 — The Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes it illegal to discriminate against women because they are pregnant.
This is a very small part of the history of women in the U.S., and each girl or woman is the beneficiary of one or more of these changes whether she is playing high school basketball or borrowing money to buy a car or needs a maternity leave from her job.
The Constitution is a living breathing document, and is altered as mandated by changing times, and that’s why there are strike outs and additions as well as amendments.
The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in July of 1868 with its declaration that citizens are entitled to “equal protection of the laws,” has been used in a variety of cases from racial discrimination to reproductive rights to gender discrimination.
Mute over half of the U.S. population? I think not.
Vivian Blevins is a consultant for the Training Solutions Group Inc. who teaches courses in writing and literature for major telecom company employees. Reach her at (937) 778-3815 or [email protected]