Remember that bumper sticker?
It's the Preamble to the Woman's Constitution. After thousands of years, existing as property, we finally freed ourselves only to believe the lies told by church and enforced by state. So for some time, we stayed enslaved believing that we had no ability to live a life on our own. We were incompetent beings, incomplete unless mated to a male.
True, the shackles were gone not too long ago, but some women were held fast, none the less, by economics, religious teachings and lack of education. As more of us broke free, all of us could believe the impossible -- that each woman, like each man, was a competent and complete human being.
No, this is not a down-with-marriage opus. It is simply the recognition that WOMEN ALSO ARE HUMAN AND CAPABLE WHETHER ALONE OR MARRIED. Where a few years ago, not having a husband doomed us to a life of poverty, despair and derogatory labels, today there are choices; today there are WOMEN'S lives to celebrate -- starting with a person named Janet Reno, Attorney General of the United States of America. A woman who chose her life's work and chose not to marry.
We all learned in school that there were three branches of our federal government: judicial, executive and legislative (most will allow that the media has become a fourth branch). Last week, Attorney General Reno once again courageously announced a decision without fear or favor toward the executive, legislative (or media) branches, despite a veritable morass of testosterone-loaded threats.
She blew off the top-cop, F.B.I. Chief, Louis Freeh. He reacted by leaking a missive he had sent to Reno in a frantic and futile search for his cajones.
As expected, the Bevis and Buttheads of the Repugnat majority in Congress, nearly drowning in their own smegma, hurled lots of accusations at Reno along with dire threats to depose her. A.G. Reno just smiled, complimented her detractors, thanked Louis for his input and continued doing her job -- with not a feather ruffled!
She was given the name "El Reno" by the media which continued to print and feature every critical remark they could in hopes of creating "a typical woman's" response to threats -- a tearful, mea culpa so they could C.N.N. it to the entire world.
However you evaluate Reno's decision, her actions were heroic. She reminds us of another woman who chose to remain unmarried, Susan B. Anthony. By sheer force of will, Anthony drove herself, and a small group of women, to force the creation and ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
A reporter named Nellie Bly interviewed Anthony in 1896, giving us a sense of this remarkable person in her own words. Anthony seemed always to maintain a great sense of humor even though women and men alike attacked her constantly for not following the "biblical rules for women."
When asked what her greatest ambition was, she answered, "Oh, my!" with a laugh. "The right to vote. Not that I care for myself, but I want to see discrimination against women killed." Asked what was the greatest forte in life for a woman, Anthony replied, "That she must first be a woman -- free, trained, and above old ideas and prejudices, and afterwards the wife and mother." And, of course, by her own life, she insisted that wife and/or mother be choices -- free choices.
Today, with the 21st century fast approaching, the media is making lists of famous people and important happenings of the 20th century. So far, we have not seen one list where Susan B. Anthony (or any of the women she worked with) appeared. In fact, we have not seen any woman listed in the top ten names. In addition, nowhere on the lists we have seen thus far is there any mention of the 19th Amendment.
Susan B. Anthony lived just 6 years into the 20th Century. The right to vote, that she worked so hard to get for us, was never given her.
How can any of us justify sitting out any election?
Surely each of us can inform ourselves on the issues; talk to friends and relatives; offer rides to the polls or child sit so a mother can vote.
Maybe Anthony's name won't appear on any of the man's lists, but we can give her memory something better and more lasting -- the justification of her faith in us.
Copyright 1997 Renee T. Louise and Ruth M. Sprague, Ph.D. These articles may be republished for noncommercial use only, provided that they are copied intact, and that this copyright notice is attached. Address all queries to: TWANDA@ConnRiver.net.
G e n d e r G a p p e r s T M
For more information on the remarkable and little-known details about how women in the United States REgained the right to vote via amendment to the United States Constitution, see the Woman Suffrage Timeline at the liz library; also available on Laurie Mann's extensive women's history pages here.]