Tag Archives: Women’s Movement

Glass Ceiling: Death of Women’s Movement?

8 Sep

I need to thank my friend Jen Lockett for inspiring me to write this post. When Jill Abramson became the first woman ever to hold the position of Executive Editor of the New York Times this past Tuesday, I began to reflect upon how solid the glass ceiling remains for women generally. This makes me think of Marx: “Progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex.”  Given the number of positions that have yet to be held by women and by the bizarre number of women who vote against women’s issues alongside John Boehner and his misogynistic minions, also called the House of Representatives, I worry that the still much-needed women’s movement is dead, or in need of resuscitation.

Here are some examples of significant positions yet to be held by women:

White House chief of staff: I’m hopeful that we will see a pro-woman woman in this position within the next five years.

News network president: Here I am not as optimistic. I was elated when Katie Couric became the first female to anchor the nightly news on CBS solo, but she was replaced by a man and apparently the major networks remain an all boys club.

Supreme Court Chief Justice: Let’s face it; this will not happen while Scalia, Thomas, and Alito are living, and you can’t kill the undead.

United States President: I really would like to see this happen in my lifetime but allow me this one caveat: I would rather eat my own spleen with a rusty spoon than see a vicious homophobic anti-woman like Michele Bachmann take the office of POTUS.  Am I the only one that finds it somewhat shameful that we are of the last Western Countries to have a women head of government?

I do realize and appreciate that we are making progress in the area of women’s rights as we must simultaneously work to eradicate racism, ageism, and all other forms of oppression. I do look for more strong voices, both female and male, working for the women’s movement. For those that are paying attention, I have also tagged this post LGBTQ, for I cannot underscore enough the connection between misogyny and homophobia and the interconnectedness between all forms of oppression.

Here is more information you can read about the glass ceiling.

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Women’s History: May 21

21 May

May 21, 1935, Jane Addams dies.  Addams was best known as the Founder of Hull House, Peace Activist, and Social Reformer.  Addams was also the very first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  Addams fits perfectly into the theme of TSM blog; she stands for social justice and feels morally obligated to help the disenfranchised and the marginalized. She is what I would call a “do-gooder.”  I hope shall leave such a legacy when I am gone and inspire others in the way Addams inspired.  While Addams did consider herself religious and eventually identified as a Unitarian, I do believe those of us that do not subscribe to any organized religion can be just as effective.

Quote of the day:

Old-fashioned ways which no longer apply to changed conditions are a snare in which the feet of women have always become readily entangled.–Jane Addams

Women’s History: May 20

20 May

Happy Birthday, Adela Rogers St. Johns

Happy Birthday, Adela Rogers St. Johns.  St. Johns was best known for her work as a sharp tongued journalist.  There were so few female journalists at that time, she was largely referred to as that “girl reporter.”  She started her journalistic career writing for the San Francisco Examiner, and eventually listed thirteen screenplays to her credit.  Later she wrote for such popular magazines as Cosmopolitan, and The Saturday Evening Post.  One of the big stories people may remember is the article she wrote about Bruno Richard Hauptmann, the man that kidnapped and killed the infant son of Charles Lindbergh. St. Johns also published a series of articles about the poor during the Great Depression, as well as covered the abdication of King Edward VIII.  St. Johns paved the way for women to pursue a career in journalism.

As a follow up to the story yesterday on our Anne Boleyn, it was May 20, 1536 that Henry VIII became engaged to Jane Seymour.  I guess 24 hours was all Henry needed to grieve over the execution of Anne.

Quote of the day:

I wish women would stand together and shackle the men who want to move us backwards.–Adela Rogers St. Johns

Chattel or Progress (?)

16 May

"Turns Out Our Gals are Useful After All"

Thank you to my friend “voice of the trailer” for inspiring this story.  Apparently, the trend continues for women to take their husband’s name, according to a 35-year study published in 2009 in the journal Social Behavior and Personality.  The study also shows that well-educated women with careers that have high earning power tend to retain their names. (I intentionally refuse to use maiden name for obvious reasons.)  Age seems to also play a part.  Women who marry after age 35 are 6.4 times more likely to keep their name.

I do worry that we do not have a sense of history as to what the name change meant, or the other rituals that all indicated that a woman was going to become the property of her husband.  Lest we forget, women were not allowed to own land. Nor should we forget that women could not own a credit card until the mid-1970’s.  I do still worry that as a culture we do not recognize the often times more subtle misogyny that exist in advertising and pop culture.  An immediate example that comes to mind is the television show called Cougar Town, which I find incredibly misogynistic and offensive. I have not seen this show, but the title is very off-putting.  I have had conversations with friends about this and they offer in reply: “We have the same thing with men, we just call them either lucky or dirty old men.”  The offensive difference is that we don’t call them predators, such as cougars.

The other example I will offer is the list of comments at the end of the article I am referring to which contains a number of misogynistic remarks.  Granted the article is from the Wall Street Journal, so my expectations of enlightenment are slim. Here is an example of the sexist comments I read:

Women are very self-serving with respect to gender roles. When it comes to pay raises and promotions they’re all for it, but if the they have to initiate a relationship or pay for a date then they defer to traditional gender roles.–Benny

I feel sorry for Benny’s wife, should he have one.  I suppose I don’t understand the need to assume one’s spouse’s name.  Of course, I say this even as my partner and I changed our names, albeit some of that was to make a political statement, as we are a gay couple that is denied the right to marry.  I also suspect that I take issue with the name change because I don’t see a level playing field as of yet.  Women still do not earn as much money on the dollar as men do, nor are they proportionately represented in our government–look at the House of Representatives as a reflection of this fact.  In short, I’m not convinced we have made the progress regarding gender or race that we think we have.

Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex

11 Apr

Equal Rights Equal Pay

As we witness the most vicious attack on women’s rights in my lifetime, I am reminded of what Karl Marx said: Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex. How true these words ring today and how unfortunate we have yet to learn our much-needed lessons from history. Of course, many of our elected officials don’t even know how to spell history, much less have read any (Michele Bachmann et al.).  Last night my husband and I watched Made in Dagenham which I strongly recommend.  While the movie reminded me of Norma Rae, a brilliantly done movie, Dagenham addresses workers’ rights and the need for bargaining. I especially appreciate how Made in Dagenham confronts the issue of gender disparity.  The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1970 In Great Britain. While the United States passed an Equal Pay act in 1963, it is a matter of but not of practice.

Note to Scott Walker, Paul LePage, and John Kasich you are NOTHING without the laborers and unions. Back to history, I recommend the three of you look at Hegel’s master/slave dialectic.  I realize those are big words for you.  Again, we need a mandatory literacy test for all elected officials.  If the ever -growing disparity between what CEOs earn in contrast to union laborers does not bother you, you are not paying attention. Eliminating 38 million from the budget in order to save tax breaks for the rich and for corporations simply does not make sense.

From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.  Karl Marx

Women’s History: April 2

2 Apr

Happy Birthday, Emmylou

Happy Birthday, Emmylou Harris. While Harris is widely known for her contribution to country music, and more specifically folk music, she also uses her amazing talent as a song writer/singer for social justice. Her famous friendship with Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt produced two of my favorite albums: Trio and Trio II, but she is also sought after by artists like Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello.

I remember Harris as one of my first employers, when I worked at the Country Music Hall of Fame, where she was the President; this was before she had the beautiful mane of silver hair. She was quite kind and just like the rest of us normal people–nonetheless, she was one of the very few country music artists that left me star struck.  My horrific confession is that once at a CMHF dinner, I was sitting just three seats from Emmylou and when everyone left for the night, I stole her spoon. I am very sorry for this theft, but alas it is true. I believe this was 1987, so I hope the statue of limitations has now run out.

I would like to focus on Harris’ activism. In the late 90’s, Harris joined Lilith Fair, a music tour promoting women and feminism. Harris then started a music tour with her friends: Mary Chapin Carenter, Bruce Cockburn, Joan Baez, Patty Griffin, Nanci Griffith, Willie Nelson, and Lucinda Williams to raise money and awareness for a Landmine Free World. The proceeds of this tour went to support the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation‘s.

Here is another of my favorite Emmylou Harris songs, Waltz Across Texas Tonight. I hope you will hit the above links to hear a couple of my favorite songs.  Happy Birthday, Emmylou. Thank you for your activism, your work toward social justice and for your beautiful voice.

Celebrating Women’s History Month: March 11

11 Mar

Gloria Steinem: National Treasure

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Gloria Steinem. Steinem is an icon of social justice for women, the LGBT community, and the disenfranchised. Steinem has dedicated her life to creating a level playing field for women, while at the same time embracing and working on issues for all marginalized peoples. In my humble opinion, Seinem’s voice is one of the most important in the 20th and 21st Centuries. My first reading of Revolution From Within: A Book of Self-Esteem, spoke to me as a gay man and how institutionalized oppression can take its toll and how we must unite to speak our own truth. As most of you know, Steinem co-founded Ms. Magazine and helped a culture learn about the power of words: Miss, Mrs. and Ms. I have heard Ms. Steinem speak three times and each time I left in awe and inspired. I don’t understand any of her detractors, for she speaks with such love and compassion. Listening to Steinem, one realized how fully she understands deep rooted patriarchy, misogyny, and oppression. I dare say, her detractors have never heard her speak, nor have ever read anything she has written. Yes, she supports a woman’s right to govern her own body–a controversy that would not exist if there were legislation trying to control what men could do with their bodies. I applaud Gloria Steinem for her courage and for her contributions to social justice. Click here to learn more about Gloria Steinem.

Celebrating Women’s History Month: March 4

4 Mar

Honoring Dolly Parton

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Dolly Parton. Parton has been a favorite of mine for many many years, dating back to her days with Porter Wagoner. I will confess, back in the mid 1970’s my former stepmother used to force us to listen to country music–I hated it!!! However, there was one song that caught my heart.  We were listening to Just Because I’m a Woman, by Dolly Parton. I loved the song and felt so indignant that there was a double standard for how women and men were treated–I fell in love with our Dolly with this song.  How impressive that a female country music star was addressing the inequities between gender in 1976.  Of course, if there is anyone that listens to Toby Keith, one wonders if he is even aware of the women’s movement, or anyone that is not a white heterosexual man. Just Because I’m a Woman, was one of many clues that I would become a militant feminist. The next song that caught my heart was The Bargain Store. I used to cry listening to this song. How could she not see her value and how lovable she is? The song is very telling of how often women internalize messages of self-doubt, or the misconception that they are lucky if someone choses them, whey in reality they should do the choosing!

Parton has been good friends with two of my other favorite women, Linda Rondstadt and Emmylou Harris. Who could not love their album in 1987 The Trio, specifically My Dear Companion? I also loved Trio II. The song Blue Train, I find haunting and beautiful.

I also loved Dolly Parton in the quintessential women’s movement movie of the 1980’s decade, 9 to 5.  How can you not love Doralee? I would be remiss if I did not include Hard Candy Christmas, from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. I will conclude this article with a song that Ms. Parton was robbed of an academy award for, Travelin’ Thru, from Transamerica.

There are many reasons to love our Dolly Parton, just some of which are: a pioneer for strong women in country music, a powerful and smart business woman with a brilliant voice, and a supporter of the LGBT community.

Women’s History: February 22

22 Feb

Poet/Feminist

Happy Birthday, Edna St. Vincent Millay. Millay is best known for her poetry, specifically her poetry around issues of sexual and personal freedom. Millay was only the third woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Millay’s sexuality seems to have been somewhat fluid, having had relationships with women, and marrying Eugen Jan Boissevain. Both took on other lovers during their 26 year marriage. Millay was a strong feminist and activist. One of my favorite quotes from Millay is:

Let us forget such words, and all they mean,
as Hatred, Bitterness and Rancor,
Greed, Intolerance, Bigotry.
Let us renew our faith and pledge to Man
his right to be Himself.

Happy Birthday, Isabella Beecher Hooker. Isabella was the half sister of Henry Ward Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Isabella became a social reformer and strong suffragist. In fact, she became a close friend of one of my heroes, Victoria Woodhull. For those of you that follow my blog regularly, you will remember my story on Victoria Woodhull and how she lost many a friend for her article exposing the affair of the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, yet Isabella stood by our Victoria during this debacle.

 

Women’s History: February 21

21 Feb

Pioneer in Women's Education

Happy Birthday, Alice Freeman Palmer. At age 26, Palmer became President of Wellesley College. Palmer was the first woman to be the head of a nationally known college at a time when there was still debate as to whether or not women should be educated.

Happy Birthday, Nina Simone. Simone is one of my personal favorites.

It was not until February 21, 1980 that the AFL-CIO voted to reserve 2 seats on its 35 member executive team for a woman and a member of a minority group.

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