—Muhammad Ali Jinnah ( founder of Pakistan)
The world celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8, and for some reason it made me a little sad. I am happy with my gender, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t understand why it is cause for celebration. You see, this celebration sets me apart, and in truth, all most women want is equality.
I don’t need McDonald’s to make their arches into W’s one day a year, rather I need to be assured that everyone who works there gets equal pay for equal work. I don’t need Mattel to unveil 17 new “role model” Barbies, unless some of them are heavyset, or have frizzy hair or are walking with one child on her hip and one on her ankle. I surely don’t need Johnnie Walker to make a one month “limited edition” of Jane Walker to prove that I am equal to the men who spend their hard earned money on scotch with a name. Instead I need every company to recognize that women are equal in every way and treat them as such.
I have been lucky through the years to have a father who believed that I could accomplish anything I set my mind on and a husband who has supported all of my endeavors unfailingly, yet I have often come across blatant bias in my life. I know that when I taught, the male teachers were given almost all of the extra money assignments each year. When I questioned my principal about his choices he explained that men, after all, had to support their families. When I brought up the fact that most of our female faculty was either single mothers or part of a two “necessary” salaries family, he smiled and said he “liked my feminist attitude” as he walked away. Men still claimed a preponderance of the available after school activities.
There are several Plastic Surgery practices in my extended neighborhood, and they all advertise extensively. One before/after picture following another in magazines, on line and on billboards. Almost every one features a woman who became “beautiful.” Rarely do we see a man in these advertisements, because men are not the target audience. Men don’t feel the need to change the way they look for the women in their lives. They aren’t made to feel unattractive if they are ten pounds over weight or lose facial definition as they age. They are told grey hair makes them look distinguished while women are given hair dye at the first sign of a grey hair.
Interestingly enough, in this time of fighting so all groups are afforded equal rights, women remain one of the few groups that are not constitutionally protected. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was first introduced to protect the rights of women in 1921. It has had a long and complicated history, and now, almost a century later, it still waits to be passed. Strangely enough, women have been some of its strongest opponents. Although it spent many years as part of the Republican platform, some conservative women fought it tooth and nail. They were afraid that they would lose some of the workplace considerations they received and worried that they would be drafted. Their voices were heard, and the ERA support was dropped from the Republican platform. Although we do see women in key political positions in the United States, the presidency still seems unattainable, and although the amendment has been reintroduced in every session of Congress since 1982, that too seems out of reach. So as much as I appreciate the motivation behind International Women’s Day, I would prefer to see all women seen as, and treated as, equals 365 days a year, and I would like to believe that the ERA will pass in my lifetime.
The book I read this week, Justice Returns (Ben Kincaid series) (Volume 19) by William Bernhardt, was a politically driven legal thriller featuring one of my favorite fictional attorneys. Ben Kincaid is a nice guy who makes it easy to root for him, and this was one of his more interesting cases. I found it a bit heavy on politics, but It was definitely relevant and fun to follow.