We’ve come a long way. we really have. and who is this we that i speak of? women, i suppose, but the whole population of the United States, really. here are some facts: when my mother was born (and most likely yours?) abortion was illegal. Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts, which bars discrimination based on gender and race when it comes to employment , had not been passed yet. When my mother was born, the Equal Pay Act has not been passed yet. When my mother was born, in some states it was still illegal for married couples to use birth control. It wasn’t until she was 11 years old that the Supreme Court ruled that using birth control is covered in our right to privacy. When my mother was born, there were still help wanted ads based on gender in the newspaper. Title IX, which bans discrimination based on sex in schools and increased funding for sports available to women across the country, had not been passed. My mother was 15 years old when it became illegal for a husband to rape his wife and 17 when it became illegal to deny a woman a job based on the fact that she was pregnant. Four years before my sister was born, when my mom was 25 years old, five years after she graduated from Cottey, the Supreme Court ruled that sexual harassment is in fact an illegal form of job discrimination. When I was five, when my sister was nine, and my mom was 38, the Supreme Court ruled that women can sue for punitive damages for sex discrimination. In 2009, only five years ago, President Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. Last year, the ban on women serving in combat roles was lifted.
Let all of that sink in for a moment. Think how much has changed simply since my mother was born. Think how much has changed just since I was born. We have come so far, as a country, as women. Here is the thing though: women still don’t earn the same amount as men do. Women are greatly out numbered as CEOs of companies and in positions within the government. We still have not had a female president of the United States. We have come so far. But we have so much farther to go. I want my daughters to look back with the same shock that I felt when I realize that abortion was illegal when my mother was born and question the fact that when their mother was in college, this country had yet to have a female president.
We have so far to go.