My pussy hat is purple

In a sea of pink, I’m the one in the purple pussy hat.

I was going to wear pink — I’ve knitted eight pink hats so far — but as I was looking through my yarn stash and I found this skein of lavender wool, I thought of my grandmother.

Lavender was my grandmother’s favorite color. She used to dress one of us four girls for Easter every year, and you can tell by the Easter morning photos which one of us was the lucky one because she was dressed, head to toe, in lavender, with black patent leather shoes and white gloves.

My grandmother was born in 1888, and when she came of age in 1909, she didn’t have the right to vote.

It occurred to me as I held that lavender yarn in my hand that I could reach back and touch a time when women couldn’t even vote.

I said something in a Facebook post and a young woman answered that women’s rights were long established and not going anywhere.

Something snapped. Here’s this young woman with no sense of history, and I felt as though I had to say something.

I told her that women couldn’t sit on a jury until 1961 — within my lifetime and probably within her mother’s lifetime.

When I was in high school a girl who got pregnant had to quit school, but the boy who got her pregnant could stay.

When I was 18 in Massachusetts, it was illegal for a doctor to prescribe — or even discuss — contraception with a single woman. I had to wait until 60 days before my wedding to get a prescription, and the system was so paternalistic that I wasn’t the one who could get in trouble — the doctor was.

When I was married to my first husband (1972 to 1977), it was perfectly legal in many states for him to rape and hit me.

I couldn’t get a credit card in my own name, and my friend, who was a pharmaceutical sales rep with a master’s degree in nursing and an income of more than $50,000 a year (a fortune in 1975 and more than double what my then-husband made), couldn’t get a mortgage on a $35,000 condo.

We could be fired for getting married and often were fired when we got pregnant. If we were single parents, we still couldn’t get a decent job because men believed we should be home with our children and that we should stay with our husbands no matter what.

Women still aren’t guaranteed the same pay for the same work.

In fact, women have no equal protection in the US Constitution — the late US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said as much less than five years ago. What this means is that women have no grounds under the US Constitution to sue for discrimination (Read the 14th Amendment — it specifies men and does not include women).

In this culture, rape is seen as a woman’s fault. Where were you? What were you wearing? Why did you get in a car with him? Why did you invite him in?

Where was I? I was on a date.

What was I wearing? Dress and heels as is appropriate for a nice restaurant.

Why did I get in a car with him? As I said, we were on a date.

Why did I invite him in? I had a nice time at dinner and we were in the middle of an interesting conversation, so I asked if he would like a cup of coffee.

But all this, apparently, gives a man permission to “lose control,” and the blame is on the woman for being such a slut that she went out on a date.

When William Kennedy Smith was accused of rape in 1991, the victim was criticized for taking off her pantyhose. My question was: If you’re going to walk barefoot on the beach, are you going to wear your socks?

But he got off because she was such a slut that she took off her socks to walk barefoot on the beach.

I was just 3 years old the first time I was violated. Go ahead, try to make that my fault. I must have had a hell of a come-hither look, huh?

We have come a ways, true, but we do not have full equality.

We need to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. It’s still out there and it is finding new life. It has been re-introduced in North Carolina, Virginia and Nevada, among other states.

We have demanded that other nations include gender equality in their laws, but we have yet to do it ourselves.

We need to guarantee women the same pay for the same work, and we need to give women equal access to high-paying jobs.

We need to re-examine our attitudes about sexual violence.

We need to ensure than women have access to safe and effective contraception and that your boss’s religion can’t affect your access to it.

Just 25 years ago, I handed a prescription for birth control pills to a pharmacist, who told me I needed a note from my doctor because the insurance company didn’t cover contraception for women, and they needed to know it was for therapeutic purposes (which it was).

I told him the prescription WAS a letter from my doctor, and that he would fill it or he and the insurance company would face a lawsuit. It was none of their business what I was taking the pills for, only that my doctor had prescribed them for me.

I’m not sure my threat would have been effective except for a young man I knew casually was standing nearby. He was using testosterone patches following testicular cancer surgery, and no one was asking why, he said.

“If I can fill a prescription for hormone therapy and she can’t, that’s discrimination and I would be very happy to testify on her behalf,” he said.

The pharmacist called the insurance company and told them he no longer would ask the purpose of birth control pills, but would fill doctors’ prescriptions, and if they wanted to object, he would join my lawsuit.

I got my pills.

But I’m tired of fighting for equal treatment when I am as capable and smart as any man.

And young women need to know that a lot of these rights we enjoy are not guaranteed and can be rolled back.

My Facebook friend was quite taken aback when I told her just how tenuous our rights are. My advice to her was to find and join a chapter of NOW and start fighting.

It’s your turn, Millennials. Come join us. We want your input because the way we’ve always done things has yet to get us full equal rights. We welcome you to the fight with open arms.

 

Happy Equal Pay Day

equal pay

Equal pay for equal work. Is that really too much to ask?

Today is Equal Pay Day, the day women’s earnings since Jan. 1, 2013, catch up with men’s earnings for 2013.

I fought this back in the early 1980s, when I discovered a man with the same experience I had, who was doing the same job I was, made 30 percent more than I did. He lived at home with his mom and I was raising two kids.

I went to the publisher to complain about the inequity, and he gave me a raise to equal what my male colleague was making. Then he called my male colleague into his office and gave him a raise, too. I wasn’t supposed to know about it, but I decided to be happy with my raise and not risk getting fired because I needed the job.

Once, when I interviewed for a job, I was told I wouldn’t be hired because I had children and this boss wanted to be my top priority. Again, I could have pressed it, but I didn’t want to work for someone like that.

When I was a child, a woman still could be fired for getting married or for having a baby. Women were passed over for promotions because they might get pregnant or because they had children, plus everyone knew they would be useless at least one or two days a month because of “female problems.”

Women could be bank tellers but not bank presidents; we could be nurses but not doctors; secretaries but not lawyers. If we chose to pursue a career, it was understood that we would sacrifice having children.

It took a lot of fighting to get past that crap, and we still haven’t achieved equality. We earn, on average, 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren calls that not an accident, but discrimination, and she’s right.

I have a bumper sticker on my car that says, “I can’t believe I’m still protesting this crap!” People often snap pictures of it in parking lots.

But I have been protesting for women’s equality since the 1960s. As early as 1958, I was thinking I was as smart as any of the boys in my class — and smarter than most of them, but I was being told my possibilities were limited. I find it appalling that it’s still true on so many levels.

My granddaughters are coming of age in a time when women are still paid only about three-quarters of what men make; I can only hope my great-granddaughter’s reality is a little better.

 

Too crazy

Rep. Paul Broun from Georgia, says he believes people existed with dinosaurs. He is on the Science Committee in Congress.

A generation ago, someone who doesn’t believe in evolution wouldn’t have been on the Science Committee in Congress, and someone who espouses the death penalty for sassy children would have been laughed out of the public eye.

A generation ago, the media might have called Mitt Romney out on his lies during the debate instead of declaring him the winner. And a candidate who was caught in the number of flat-out lies and scope of deception of the Romney campaign would have been shamed out of the campaign long before the convention.

We used to have something called common sense that helped us weed out the crazies; now we seem to welcome them with open arms.

The guys who claim women can’t get pregnant from “real” rape get to stay in the race and maybe even win the election.

We who fought for women’s rights in the 1960s thought we had won some of these battles — like the right to access to contraception and safe abortions, and the right to keep our jobs regardless of whether we’re on the Pill and not married.

I can actually remember when a woman could be forced to quit her job if she got pregnant because she belonged at home with her baby. It wasn’t her decision to make; her boss could make it for her.

Blatant lies like the ones put out there about the Affordable Care Act — the death panels, the $716 billion “theft” from Medicare — used to be dispelled by the media, which now repeats them over and over as “the other side of the story.”

Our previous president lied us into war, tortured prisoners and suffered no consequences for his war crimes. Our current president kills innocent people with unmanned drones on a regular basis and it doesn’t even make headlines.

Instead, we get to hear all about which celebrity is looking at jail time for drug abuse, who is divorcing whom, who wore the lowest-cut dress to whatever awards ceremony last week, cute fuzzy-puppy stories from Middle America and sports, sports, sports.

We are obsessed with Honey Boo-Boo and America’s Got Talent, but we can’t be bothered with the real issues long enough to demand that the corporate media explain the real ramifications of public policy instead of giving equal weight to the truth and the lies.

Instead of a media that searches for truth, we get a lying sack of crap declared the winner of a debate because he looked “sharper.”

I worry about this country’s future as people lose access to real information about real issues. Even the president is out there talking about Big Bird. Drop it already and talk about how we lower our military spending, make huge corporations behave and pay their share of the public load, regulate their greed-induced ill behavior and invest in education and other things that ensure a stable future for our children and families, not to mention our nation.

 

Boobs and boors

Do you really think these guys are here to celebrate women’s rights?

Let me start by saying I’m not a prude.

But c’mon, women, why all the fuss about being able to go topless when it’s already legal in North Carolina?

The idea for the rally came from a man who bills himself as Sparkles the Clown. He’s from Alabama and his wife doesn’t even approve.

It seems to me this clown and a lot of “participants” are nothing more than goons with boob fetishes.

What’s happening here is that the clown from Alabama has convinced a group of women that they need the right to parade around half-naked — a right they already possess.

Meanwhile, a women’s equality rally a couple blocks away went almost unattended.

Crap like this rally takes away from the serious problems ultra-conservatives are causing women. We’re on the fast track to losing our right to contraception. I mean, they’ve gone beyond attempts to remove access to abortion; they want to make us beg for contraception.

My generation fought this fight 40 years ago and now we’re having to do it again.

Meanwhile, women are parading topless around downtown, allowing drooling mouth-breathers to take pictures of their boobs as though it was some kind of serious issue.

The real issue here is whether we’re willing to go back to the days when men could make us stay home and have to rely on them for everything. They could treat us as they pleased and we had no recourse. Trust me, I remember those days. I lived that life for a few short years, having to ask for money to buy underwear.

Never again. I will control my body and my destiny. My husband is there to share the journey with me, not drag me along on his joy ride.

So, those of you who bared your boobs so boors could gawk, please try to see how you’re being manipulated and tell the boys to find their prurient pleasures somewhere else.

 

It is an issue

Recently, several people have told me that women’s rights aren’t really being attacked and that the whole birth control thing is a diversion, not a real issue.

Actually, it is an issue, and a very real one at that.

A lot of people have misrepresented Sandra Fluke’s testimony. She was not asking for taxpayers to pay for her contraception; she was only saying it needs to be covered by insurance so low-income women like students can have access. She did not testify before Darryl Issa’s committee; she spoke before an informal committee of Democrats after she was refused permission to testify before Issa’s committee.

In Texas, women’s clinics are closing because funding has been cut. This means fewer women will have access to care and to contraception. They will have more babies and become even more mired in poverty.

Across the country, Planned Parenthood and other organizations that offer affordable health care to women are being attacked under the guise of being “abortion clinics.”  Just because I sit in my office and occasionally print something out doesn’t make me a printer. Women’s health clinics offer contraception, breast cancer screening and sometimes well-baby clinics. They address issues such as domestic violence. They often are a woman’s only access to care, and they save lives.

Yes, this is an attack on women.

I’ll turn 60 this year, and as a child I had a direct connection to women’s suffrage: my grandmother couldn’t vote as a young woman. She was born in 1888 and was married with a child before women had the vote. Her father controlled her every move until she was married. When skirts went above the ankle and she cut all hers off and hemmed them, her father made her sew ruffles onto the bottom of every skirt because he thought men were staring at her ankles.

I came of age in the 1960s and my grandmother and I talked a lot about how far women had come — and how far we still needed to go to gain equality.

My mother’s generation could vote, but women still could be fired when they got married or got pregnant. My mother actually advised me to take typing in 1966 because I should have something to fall back on if my husband should die. I refused. I wasn’t going to make my living fetching coffee, taking notes and typing someone else’s crap.

My mother was a brilliant woman, but she couldn’t share that brilliance beyond her home because women’s place was in the home. She was depressed and frustrated, but she stayed home until I was in high school. She became a self-taught marine biologist who lectured PhDs on the effects of PCBs on fish eggs in the Chesapeake Bay.

My generation was the one that was able to make headway because we didn’t have to become pregnant unless we planned it — as long as we were married. Even into the 1970s in Massachusetts, women weren’t allowed to make their own decisions about their bodies. Doctors weren’t allowed to offer contraception — or even information about it — to unmarried women. They, not we, could be arrested because we weren’t trusted with our own bodies.

We fought those laws and we fought for equality in the workplace. We had to work twice as hard as men to get half the recognition. I was paid less than a man who did my same job at my first newspaper. I complained to the publisher and got a raise, but then the man who was doing the job comparable to mine got a raise, too. I was, after all, only a woman. I was just working for spending money in their eyes. It didn’t matter that I was supporting two children and this man lived with his mother; he was a man and I was a woman. This was in the 1980s.

The attacks on our access to contraceptives are very real. Women are losing the gains we made in the 20th century because too few of us remember what it was like to not have options. If a husband was abusive, we could leave because we could get work. If a husband lost his job, the woman’s income still was there in most families.

If women hadn’t entered the workplace beginning in the 1960s, our national economy would be about one-third of what it is now.

This is not a distraction; this is a real issue. Those five aging white men on Darryl Issa’s birth control panel want us back in the early 1900s, make no mistake about it. Rick Santorum’s supporter who joked that women could use an aspirin held firmly between the knees is among those who want to set back the clock.

I won’t even go into what Rush Limbaugh said because too much has been said already. But he is dangerous because some people do take him seriously.

We need to recognize all this for what it is:  a coordinated attack from the right on all the gains women have made.

 

a world of progress site | woven by WEBterranean