Inez Milholland

Inez Milholland was a suffragist in Washington, DC, in the early 20th century. She organized a march on the Washington Mall in 1913 to argue for women’s right to vote. She rode a white horse while dressed in flowing robes.

Three years later, she was dead. She ignored her own health problems to travel around the country giving speeches for suffrage. She collapsed and died during a speech in 1916. At the time, she was hailed as a martyr for the cause.

100 years after suffrage march, activists walk in tradition of Inez Milholland – The Washington Post.

Reframe the abortion debate

I so don’t want to mire myself in the political debates surrounding abortion. I consciously remove myself from politics when I am online — I dislike controversy. Yet sometimes, I feel compelled to speak out.

The following is a quotation from an essay written by a woman who recently suffered a miscarriage. The medical procedures to remove her non-viable fetus were treated as a voluntary abortion for legal and medical purposes. The entire article is worth a read.

I wish we could reframe the debate and talk more about what it would mean to honor the sanctity of life. To honor the actual lives of pregnant women and the potential lives they hold within them.
Tamara Mann

That one sentence says it all to me.

I wish we could discuss the actual realities and nuances of pregnancy and abortion, honoring the women who harbor this miracle we call life, without resorting to ugly generalities and soundbites.

What would it sound like, a discussion that honored women? Honored pregnancy, and life, and all the things that can go wrong, and all the things that can go blessedly right?

Are you planning on voting?

Primaries are upcoming here in Idaho, and the general election will be here before we know it (however much we seem mired in campaign slog right now). Many states have passed new laws requiring identification at the polls. This identification must be current and up-to-date, with your current, legal name and address. And before you say that doesn’t apply to you, of course you have current, updated photo identification, an article by The Nation came out last week, and it quotes a Brennan survey that 10% of Americans don’t have it. Most of that 10% are women, who have last name changes due to marriage and divorce. Read the entire article.

Who do we think we are?: A poem on #humanrights

We sleep, safe in our warm houses
Who do we think we are?
We have forgotten the struggle
For our lives and voices.

Who do we think we are,
Scribbling away, warm and safe?
For our lives and voices
We did not pay the price.

Scribbling away, warm and safe
While other women scrimp and hide
We did not pay the price
They still suffer and die.

While other women scrimp and hide,
We have forgotten the struggle
They still suffer and die,
We sleep, safe in our warm houses.

For more information on what this poem is about, see Who are We? a post I wrote earlier this week.

Who are We?

Who are we to be so safe? We sit in our safe, warm rooms, writing, and we think nothing of it. Women fought and died for our rights, to speak as the men speak, freely and without fear. We gather, we protest, we write.

Do not forget those who do not have these same freedoms, who hide their writing, and their voices. Remember those who live in fear, whose still small voices are all they have.

“In Afghanistan, poetry is the women’s movement from the inside.” Safia Siddiqi

“They’re behind high walls, under the strong control of men.” Ogai Amail

When women listen to each other’s stories and share their own, growth happens and confidence grows. As harmless as such an endeavour may seem to women who like the idea, this may be a threat to the established order. Men in authority worry about women talking freely to each other.
Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D. in Urgent Message from Mother: Gather the Women, Save the World

The Glass Ceiling Still Exists

There was an article in yesterday’s Post Register about the glass ceiling in the governor’s Cabinet in Idaho. According to an investigation by the Idaho Statesman, women in the Cabinet make $17,500 less than men, when comparing median salaries.

The article quoted many people in the Cabinet and Idaho’s state employees on the reason for this gap, with all agreeing that it was not based on gender, but on the clout of the departments, the size of the departments, and other factors not related to the gender of the department heads.

I would tend to give them the benefit of the doubt, since I am not a member of Idaho’s Cabinet nor an employee of the state of Idaho, but I think it is very suspicious that in the case of two departments cited in the article, Agriculture and Commerce, the one run by a man (Commerce) is a smaller department with fewer employees (53) and yet he makes $38,000 more than the woman who runs the Agriculture department with 259 employees. And she has been in her position since 2007, and he only began his time in his position in October of last year.

I thought the most telling quotation, however, came at the very end of the article, from Tana Cory, head of the Division of Human Resources and the second-lowest paid person in the Cabinet.

“As a dedicated-fund agency, any increases would be passed on to our licensees, and I am sensitive to that in our current economy,” Cory said. “Additionally, my focus is not on my own salary but on the salaries of those who work for the bureau. So, when we have an increase in (pay), I prefer to pass on as much as possible to the employees.”

So her concern for her clients is overriding both her boss and her best interests.

Whatever the reason, I think that this pay discrepancy between the men and women in Idaho’s Cabinet is unacceptable.

You can read the entire article here (pay subscription link) or here (AP link, I think it is free).

Domestic Violence Policies in the Workplace

I was planning on writing something about women’s spirituality and feminism today, but I read a post at Ask a Manager that changed my mind. Today, AaM posted comments from a reader about the importance of domestic violence policies in the workplace, and I think it is too important to ignore.

How many workplaces think about how their telephone call policies affect the safety of their employees, or what to do if an abusive partner shows up at the workplace? Read this, and think about it.

We have to talk about this

It is not okay that we live in a world where women have to write posts like this On Being an Object, and then Not Being an Object and like this It Should be Said. I am so glad they have spoken out, but women should not be treated as objects. The women who wrote those posts are brave enough to share their stories with their readers. I am not ready to share mine. I wish with all my heart that no woman ever, ever had those stories to tell.

Women are not objects, to be leered at, touched, and taken advantage of. Most men know that. Some don’t. This is not okay.

Tell your daughters not to let anyone touch them or talk to them in a way that makes them uncomfortable. Tell your sons that, too. And then tell them not to do that to anyone else, either.

Speak out when you see men treat women (or girls) badly. Speak out when you are treated badly. Speak out when other women speak out. If we all make our voices heard, maybe we can change the world.

Reed v. Reed

14th Amendment of the United States Constituti...

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In 1967, a young man in Idaho tragically took his own life. And out of that tragedy came a landmark case for equal rights for women. After Richard Reed died without a will, both his parents, who were divorced, filed petitions to oversee his small estate. The probate court ruled that his father was the proper person to oversee the estate, because “males must be preferred to females,” as written in an 1864 Idaho law.

Richard Reed’s mother, Sally Reed, fought the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, resulting in the first case in which, in 1971, women were ruled to have equal protection under the law, according to the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. I originally read about this article in the Post Register (subscription required). You can also read it in the Idaho State Journal for free.

Before reading this article, I had never heard of Reed v. Reed before. I think it should be widely publicized, much more so than it is. Sometimes feminists who fought for equal rights claim that younger women take the rights for which they fought so hard for granted. I think younger women (speaking for myself at least) wouldn’t be so quick to take things for granted (or at least seem as though we are) if we were told more about the way things used to be, before we were born.

Think about it. Before Reed v. Reed, a mother could be denied the right to administer her son’s estate, because she was a woman. To me, that is shocking. And yet, no one ever mentioned this to me, the daughter of a feminist.

Last year, many Republicans were discussing partially repealing the 14th amendment, in response to illegal immigration and the birther movement. I believe that is a terrible idea, not least because I don’t believe the Constitution should be changed to accommodate passing moods of the country (if the idea hasn’t been around for at least a generation or two, it shouldn’t be put in the Constitution), but also because the 14th amendment is so important for the equal rights of many people in this country.

Was that Republican push a hidden attack on feminism? It was certainly a not-so-hidden attack on anti-racists and immigrants. Who among us can say their forebears did not immigrate to this country? Certainly not white Republicans.

Some might argue it is stretching the 14th amendment to apply it to the equal rights of women. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who worked on Reed v Reed as a young lawyer, has a response.

“Equality was the motivating idea, it was what the Declaration of Independence started with but it couldn’t come into the original Constitution because of the odious practice of slavery that was retained,” she said. “I think the genius of the United States has been from the original Constitution where ‘we the people’ were white property-owning men to what it has become today. That it is ever more embracive including Native Americans … people who were once held in human bondage, women, aliens who come to our shores.  So ‘we the people’ has a marvelous diversity which it lacked in the beginning.”


The Day

Under the brilliant sky
The land stretches out with no trees by
To support the heavy, blue weight.
Tucked into the curve of the hill,
The little cabin sat, still.

She looked out the window
No neighbors today.
There never would be, below
This barren hill away
From the mines and churches of town.

What did Jessie want here,
She wondered. Not much of a farm,
Not much of a mine. A shiver
Crossed her arms.
How long could she go on?

The cabin door banged open.
Jessie barged in. “What, no
Dinner ready, and the fire stone
Cold? How can I work the farm like this?”

She turned, heavy on her feet,
And walked out the door.

Another poem in the style of Robert Frost. This one is finished. Come back Wednesday for a post on the writing of this poem.

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