I try to stay away from certain subjects on this blog. I avoid religion and politics as much as possible, BUT yesterday was my birthday and there's something I need to say. I'm probably older than most of my readers and I know you won't all agree with me, but please bear with me this time. There is much at stake.
I've been involved with the Women's Rights Movement for a long time. My involvement has been in four areas, education and employment, social and reproductive rights. Many of you are too young to realize how recently things have changed. My grandmother didn't have the right to vote. Once women attained the right, she never let us forget how important it was to exercise that right. We received a phone call every election day to remind us to vote. I've never missed an election.
Along with some friends I attended some rallies and heard speakers such as Gloria Steinam and Bella Abzug speak It was a heady time. In Syracuse where I lived, there were two restaurants with cocktail lounges that allowed no women unless they were escorted by men. These were not private clubs, but public facilities closed to women. We picketed these facilities and managed to get television news and local newspapers to cover our complaints and eventually both restaurants opened their doors to women. I remember the first day they did so, a girlfriend and I ate lunch at one of them and toasted our success.
Women who married were expected to take their husband's surname and were referred to as Mrs. Whatever. In my genealogical research an obituary from the 1970s would read John Smith was survived by his brother William Smith and his sisters Mrs. James Jones and Mrs. george Brown. A married woman was stripped of her own identity and became an appendage of her husband. As you know I chose to keep my name when I married and add my husband's name after a hyphen. In the 1970s I would not have been able to do that.
The subject that pulled me deeply into the Women's Movement was, of course, the right to make decisions about my own body. At that time there was no date rape or spousal rape on the books. A married woman was under her husband's control. He decided if and when she would have children, if and where she would work outside the home. A single woman who found herself pregnant thru rape or birth control failure had the choice of having the child or risking her life in a back alley with someone who might or might not be a medical professional, or risking her life by self aborting.