Tag Archives: Women’s Rights

Women’s Equality Day 2016

imageGuest Post by Nkenge Burkhead, Prevention Education Specialist, HAVEN

For nearly 100 years, women fought, marched, and rallied against the cultural norms of the time. Women came together to establish the National American Women’s Suffrage Association. Their goal was to ensure women had the right to vote. August 26, 1920, the goal was realized, the constitution was ratified to allow women the same voting rights as men.

Today girls and women are able to walk into voting polls without fear of arrest, knowing their vote will matter. We know that the freedoms we enjoy are often a result of activism by those who came before us. We remember the National American Women’s Suffrage Association, we honor August 26th as Women’s Equality Day.

Susan B. Anthony is recognized as a leader in the suffrage movement. She understood women needed to have a voice in laws that especially affected women and children. While participating in the suffrage movement she also started a campaign for the expansion of married women’s property rights. Alice Paul was also a member of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association. She is responsible for organizing the historic Suffrage parade. She strategically planned the march to coincide with President Wilson’s inauguration. She was later arrested for being non-patriotic. Her arrest, and treatment in jail drew necessary attention to the movement. The president ordered her immediate release and announced his support for their cause.

Many women celebrate this victory all over the United States. Some organizations have large annual celebrations. Wisconsin Women’s Network and The Women’s Intercultural Network in San Francisco host events honoring women’s suffrage. San Mateo County History Museum hold a rally for ratification of the ERA. In Albuquerque, Women Organized to Resist and Defend also host a celebration.

2016 marks the 96th anniversary of women voters. It is also a history making year in politics. When voters go into the voting booths this election there will be a woman on the ballot. I am not endorsing or suggesting a vote for any party or candidate. I am observing the connection. The Suffrage Movement was about women having a voice. Women have the option to elect officials of their choosing, and furthermore the option to become an elected official themselves. Casting your vote is using your voice, running for office is using your voice. Voting and asking the women around you if they’ve registered to vote is the best way for all of us to celebrate Women’s Equality Day!

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Looking Back to March Forward

Rosie

Guest post by: Nkenge Burkhead, Prevention Education Specialist, HAVEN

March is a month of many celebrations. The March celebration that is most dear to my heart is the observation of Women’s History Month. A time to acknowledge our fore-mothers who made noise, made progress, made room for change, and made herstory! When you celebrate the fortitude of a community of people you must also recognize the forces they are up against.

Sadly, one of the factors that give women a similar connective experience is the constant threat of sexual and physical violence. Women are disproportionately targeted (1 in 3 women) and have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner. When over 33% of a single community report surviving intimate partner violence, and then we consider the number of women who are not in a position to report their experiences, we can assume that at some point in our lifetime we will either become a victim or know and love a woman who is a victim of gender-based violence.

This is an unavoidable plot in our story. Women are at risk of being preyed upon by abusers in dark alleys near our jobs, but also in well-lit hallways near our kid’s room. Intimate partner abuse (wife beating as it’s been called) wasn’t against the law in the United States until 1920. There were no legal consequences in place until the 1970’s, and The Violence Against Women Act was passed in 1994. The statistics are appalling. The response survivors have received from police, medical staff, and even friends and family are often injurious and insensitive.

It is a time to proclaim that yes women have been victimized, but that women have also been on the front lines for the progression of services and support concerning intimate partner violence. March is a time to celebrate Women’s History! We celebrate women and their contribution to raising awareness, providing support, and challenging social attitudes around violence against women.

This month we have been motivated by Oleta “Lee” Abrams, who co-founded the first rape crisis center in the U.S. In response to her daughter’s rape and lack of support from the doctor who treated her daughter after she was attacked. Oleta and two friends opened Bay Area Women Against Rape. This center is still open today.

We are encouraged by Erin Pizzey. Erin established the first domestic violence shelter in Europe more than 40 years ago (1970). She also wrote one of the first books on the topic “Scream Quietly or the Neighbors Will Hear” in 1974.

We are indebted to Maria Macias who was killed by her estranged husband when police failed to enforce her restraining order after 22 calls for help.

Today the U.S. has over 1,900 shelters or support programs for survivors. While the survivors continue to out-number the beds, there are 1,900 places with caring people who will listen and believe survivors. Those same people ask how we can systematically end this and remember the history and attempt to reshape the future for women.

How will you March forward into the rest of the 2016? Will you read more about accomplishments women have contributed? Will you donate to a local domestic violence shelter? Will you teach the boys and men in your life about consent?

If you or someone you know is a victim of intimate partner violence or experiencing power and control dynamic in their relationship that feel abusive or unsafe HAVEN is here to help and our crisis and support line is ALWAYS open for you: 877-922-1274.

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So Cute, It’s Scary

Guest Post By John Marcotte
We went to the local Halloween superstore for some supplies. While we were browsing, my wife Patti noticed they had a “Boys Career” section, complete with doctor, fireman and astronaut costumes.
Halloween_Boys Aisle

We thought it would be interesting to compare the boys’ choices with the choices the girls were given in their career section. Would the girls get equivalent options? Or would they be offered nurse, secretary and cheerleader instead?

The good news is that I was wrong. The girls were not saddled with nurses and secretaries as their only career paths. The bad news is there was no “Girls Career” section at all. None.

They did, however, have an entire section – I am not making this up – labeled “Flutter Fairy”. This was separate from the regular fairy section. I’m guessing because there is more “fluttering” involved.

What message does that send to girls about who their heroes are? About whom they should aspire to be?

Looking more carefully at the costumes, we compared the “Boys Fright” section the “Girls Fright” section. The boys were given some truly terrifying options. Freddy Krueger, Jason, Bloody Skeleton, and more.

Over on the girls’ side, there was literally nothing that was legitimately scary. From “Feisty Fairy” to a tutu-clad “Zomberina”, real terror was in short supply.

I mentioned it to Patti, “None of these costumes are scary in any real way. They all are cute.”

Halloween_Girls Aisle 2
A passing employee chimed in, “Most of the scary costumes involve a mask. Girls don’t like to cover their face.”  She added helpfully, “They want people to see them.”

The superheroes aisle was not much better. Spider-Girl wore a tutu and had a “princess wand”. Batgirl was clad in head to toe HOT PINK. There were dozens of choices to help a girl look cute. But what if she wants to look tough? What if she wants to look scary? What if she wants to look professional?

It was easy for me to draw a line in my mind connecting row after row of costumes that tell little girls that the only thing that is important is that they look “cute” to the row after row of costumes that tell young women that the only way society values them is if they look “sexy”.

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love the spookiness, the costumes and the creativity. I’ve dressed up in everything from silly, to creative, to scary. Hell, if I could pull off sexy, I might go for that, too – but I really appreciate the fact that when I go to the store, I have other choices.

I hope that someday my girls will be able to say the same.

About John:  John Marcotte, a web designer, writer and occasional political satirist lives in Sacramento, CA with two superheroic daughters and his Superwife, Patti.  Read more from John on his HipNerd Tumblr page.

Photo credit:  Patti Marcotte.

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