. . Good Morning!
Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers on Monday mornings.
This is an Open Thread forum, so if you have an off-topic opinion burning
a hole in your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.
Surely these women won’t lose any more of their beauty
and charm by putting a ballot in a box once a year than
they are likely to lose standing in foundries or laundries
all year round. There is no contest harder than the contest
for bread, let me tell you that.
– Rose Schneiderman,
American labor union leader, socialist and feminist
I don’t want to disappoint those of you who clicked here this morning expecting poetry, so I give you a poem by Audre Lorde about feeling caught between the ‘Second Wave’ of Feminism, and the Civil Rights Movement:
Who Said It Was Simple
by Audre Lorde
There are so many roots to the tree of anger
that sometimes the branches shatter
before they bear.
Sitting in Nedicks
the women rally before they march
discussing the problematic girls
they hire to make them free.
An almost white counterman passes
a waiting brother to serve them first
and the ladies neither notice nor reject
the slighter pleasures of their slavery.
But I who am bound by my mirror
as well as my bed
see causes in colour
as well as sex
and sit here wondering
which me will survive
all these liberations.
“Who Said It Was Simple” from From a Land Where Other People Live, © 1973 by Audre Lorde, Broadside Press
So, 99 years after U.S. women finally won the vote, I’m not feeling so equal after all. I would never want to trade places with the generations of women who lived before suffrage, but lately, I’m getting that sliding backward feeling, in spite of all the claws we women are digging into the 21st century U.S. body politic just to stay in place.
Is it only me, or is there a disturbing disconnect between the chirpy narrative, and the film being shown here?
And then there’s this:
Presidential Proclamation on Women’s Equality Day, 2019
Issued on: August 23, 2019
On Women’s Equality Day, we commemorate the 99th anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment as part of the United States Constitution, which secured for women the right to vote. This historic event was the culmination of the decades-long struggle of courageous suffragists determined to ensure the right of women to shape the course of our Republic through the ballot box. On Women’s Equality Day, we commemorate the efforts of those groundbreaking activists, celebrate the remarkable achievements of women, and reaffirm our commitment to equality under the law for all Americans.
My Administration is working every day to empower and promote women, and to facilitate their success. Thanks to our economic policies, including the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and the elimination of unnecessary and burdensome regulations, the unemployment rate for women recently fell to its lowest rate in 65 years. We also are fighting for policies that recognize the demands and challenges faced by working parents so that mothers can better provide for their families and thrive in the labor force. My Administration worked to double the child tax credit, protect the child and dependent care credit, and develop a tax credit for employers who offer paid family and medical leave. We continue to call upon the Congress to pass a nationwide paid family leave program. Additionally, we are working to break down the barriers faced by women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields by expanding apprenticeships and vocational education. This year, my Administration launched the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative, which will reach 50 million women in the developing world by 2025. The W-GDP Initiative focuses on three pillars: improving access to quality education and skills training; promoting women’s entrepreneurship and increasing access to capital, markets, technical assistance, and mentorship; and identifying and reducing the legal, regulatory, and cultural barriers that hinder the participation of women in the global economy.
As we celebrate Women’s Equality Day, we honor the trailblazing American women who have fought for, and achieved, incredible gains in equality since the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Their hard-fought accomplishments have strengthened our economy, our communities, and our families, and have enriched the American spirit. Their resolve, innovation, leadership, passion, and compassion have changed the world and continue to inspire future generations of women.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim August 26, 2019, as Women’s Equality Day. I call upon the people of the United States to celebrate the achievements of women and observe this day with appropriate programs and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
twenty-third day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand nineteen, and of
the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fourth.
DONALD J. TRUMP
Orange occupant of the Oval Office
Well, you know he didn’t write it. But even so, the longest paragraph is all about his administration, a big pat on the back for all the things he’s done for women.
Of course, he leaves out his considerable efforts to make the right to choose abortion a right in name only, one that only rich white women can actually exercise. And bragging about how low women’s unemployment is, but not mentioning how many employed women are working for $7.25 per hour, the federal minimum wage rate that hasn’t been raised since July, 2009, and used by 22 states as their minimum wage.
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) released new grades for each state on two composite indices related to women’s economic status, the Status of Women in the States Employment & Earnings Index and the Poverty & Opportunity Index. Since 2015, the last time state scores were calculated, most state grades remained the same, indicating stagnating progress on each index. Eleven states received a lower grade on the Employment & Earnings Index, while 16 states received a lower grade on the Poverty & Opportunity Index.
(index names and stagnating progress emphasis mine)
This is one of the few days in the entire year that the contributions of American women are acknowledged by the President of the United States, yet as usual, the proclamation is more about the orange occupant than about “the decades-long struggle of courageous suffragists.”
So I offer my own short-list of remarkable American women born on August 26, and some landmarks in U.S. Women’s History on this day:
- 1827 – Annie Turner Wittenmyer born, American social reformer, author, magazine editor and relief worker; started a tuition-free school for underprivileged children; field agent during the Civil War for the Ladies’ Soldiers’ Aid Society and later, an advocate for war orphans; first President of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union
- 1874 – Zona Gale, American author and playwright; 1921 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the first woman to win it, for her adaptation of her novel, Miss Lulu Bett; National Woman’s Party member who lobbied extensively for the 1921 Wisconsin Equal Rights Law
1918 – Katherine Goble Johnson born, African American mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics for NASA were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. manned spaceflights. During her 35-year career at NASA and its predecessor, NACA, she mastered complex manual calculations, including calculating trajectories, launch windows and emergency return paths for Project Mercury spaceflights, and rendezvous paths for the Apollo lunar lander and command module on flights to the Moon. Her calculations were also critical during the early stages of the Space Shuttle program, and she worked on plans for a mission to Mars. Honored in 2015 with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama
1920 – 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution officially certified as ratified. “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
1935 – Geraldine Ferraro born, born, American attorney, author and politician, member of the United States House of Representatives (D-NY, 1979-1985); in 1984, she became the first woman to run as vice president for a major U.S. political party; served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission in Human Rights (1993-1996)
1957 – Nikky Finney born, American poet; raised by parents active in the Civil Rights Movement, she is an advocate for social justice and cultural preservation; Guy Davenport Endowed Professor of English at the University of Kentucky (1993-2013); author of four books of poetry, Finney won the 2011 National Book Award for Head Off & Split, and the 1999 PEN/Beyond Margins Award
Nikky Finney photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths
1970 – In New York City, Betty Friedan opens a nationwide protest called the Women’s Strike for Equality on the 50th anniversary of women’s suffrage, sponsored by the National Organization for Women. There were 20,000 activists on Fifth Avenue on New York City, 5,000 on Boston Common, 2,000 in San Francisco’s Union Square, and 1,000 in Washington DC. Smaller groups participated in Syracuse and Manhasset in NY State, and in Detroit, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and Saint Louis
1971 – The first Women’s Equality Day,* initiated by Representative Bella Abzug (D-NY), is established by Presidential Proclamation, signed by Richard Nixon, now reaffirmed annually
May this be the the next-to-last (or better yet, the last) Women’s Equality Day that the orange occupant in the Oval Office signs this day’s proclamation.