March, Women and America
The month of March is significant to me personally for a variety of reasons. March is my birth month, that makes it special, but the celebration of women in history and recognition of their contribution to the progress of the world make March an important month. This year it is especially important due to the upcoming election. During this amazing month of discovering women I never had the privilege to learn about in school, it is good to also recognize the importance of the feminine half of our social equation, that feminine quality in all people representing wisdom, patience, nurturing and softness.
There is a movement that has been building for years, quietly and strategically, to raise the awareness of an imbalance in society. The violence, chaos, greed, destruction and so many other threats to society are closely correlated with the attitude toward anything feminine. The fact that we as women are still fighting to breast feed our children in public, receive equal pay for equal work or even be considered for leadership roles proves that society is out of balance.
Beyond gender equality is the attitude toward empathy, compromise, compassion, and sharing. It seems that any discussion alluding to anything altruistic is seen as weak, liberal or worse. I find it interesting that we are considering presidential candidates that represent extremes of ideals that take us back to the time of my birth in 1960. We have come such a long way in many respects regarding equal rights, but political platforms and cries of “make America great again,” and the desire to go back to “the way things were,” prove we have a long way to go.
In the mid 1960’s President Johnson was able to move forward with a plan to eliminate poverty and racial injustice in America. The Medicare and Medicaid programs giving the poor a hand up, not a hand out, was instrumental in lifting elderly and low-income individuals pay for health care, Head Start helped prepare young children for school and the Job Corps trained unskilled workers. These programs coupled with the Civil Rights movement and urban redevelopment brought many people up from poverty and gave many youth a brighter future.
The civil rights movement resulted in such protection as the Equal Pay Act for women, Civil Rights Act against discrimination and the Voting Rights Act. My first ten years of life were experienced in this tumultuous but meaningful time. We were going into space, we were recognizing the equal rights of all Americans, and we were growing in so many new ways. Those were good days that we should be proud of. Yet here we are in 2016, and some are trying to go backward.
If we consider the attitude of those who would like to turn back the clock, it seems that the competitive need to be the biggest, the greatest, the one with the most toys drives many with the need to conquer. It is a fear of losing that drives this need. Unfortunately gentleness, compassion, empathy or a win-win philosophy represents weakness to these types of people.
A truly sophisticated and successful society should not still be arguing about the morality of a woman’s breast showing in any capacity, let alone when using it for its purpose…feeding her child. A well-balanced society should not be arguing about the validity of mistreating certain groups but instead should be discussing the resolution of any situation that hints at the possibility. True freedom in any society is only as free as its citizens allow one another to express that freedom.
As a woman I am not compelled to vote for a woman simply because she is a woman. As a liberal I am not compelled to vote for a socialist simply because he represents progressive liberal ideals. As a white middle-aged woman I am not compelled to vote for a white middle-aged man. As an American I am compelled to vote for the person who represents the progress and movement toward a healthy, strong and respected society that understands we are only as strong as our weakest member and that all people should be welcome at our table. This is balance. This is our path back to a strong America.