Sunday, April 3, 2011

Women's Rights in North America


I recognize that in many parts of the world, women are still terribly oppressed and often abused, with few, if any, rights. In some countries, they are still considered a man's property. But yesterday I was shocked to receive, in my inbox, some history of womens' struggles in North America.

In Canada, women were only declared to be Persons in 1929, with the passing of the Persons Case. That is only 82 years ago - one woman's lifetime.

In 1920, when my mom, (one of the feistiest and most independent women on the planet),  was two years old, women were granted the right to vote. This right was paid for by 33 women who picketed outside the White House in 1917, who were arrested, imprisoned and horribly beaten during the 'Night of Terror' by prison guards, with the approval of the warden. Their charge: 'obstructing sidewalk traffic'.

I lived through my own years of oppression, the byproduct of the conservative societal mores of the 1950's. I gained my liberation right on time in the 1970's, with such soul sisters as Gloria Steinem, Germaine Greer and Betty Friedan. When I read Ms magazine, I heard the "click" of inner consciousness, the feeling without a name, the wanting More and not knowing what that 'More' might be. It empowered me to discover that I was not alone, that there were legions of us who were unable to live within accepted confines, who burst out of them to explore a larger world. The Feminine Mystique totally raised my consciousness, after which I became impossible to live with :) At least, for my husband.

There was a backlash; women pursued different goals in the '80's and '90's. In time, women had to discover individually what worked and didn't work for them. But it feels timely to reflect upon those early women pioneers for the rights of women, the price they paid for privileges we now take for granted.

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