Equal Rights

The Reading Garden Denver, Colorado

I am a feminist. I’ve been female for a long time now. It would be stupid not to be on my own side.

Maya Angelou

Earlier this year, I saw the play, “When We Were Young and Unafraid” by Sarah Treem. Set in 1972, it is the story of women coming together in a safe house, located on an island off the Washington Coast. This was during a time when women had few rights. I had forgotten what we, as women, faced in those days. It was difficult for a woman to get a divorce, even in an abusive relationship. A woman had to have man cosign to get a credit card or a loan. In some states women were denied the right to serve on a jury, they could be fired from their job if they became pregnant.  

It all came to mind, again, when watching the new series, “Mrs. America”. It’s about the struggle to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified. I had forgotten the many woman who fought so hard to pass the ERA. Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, Bella Abzug, Jill Ruckelshaus, Betty Friedan and innumerable others dedicated a big part of their lives to achieving women’s equality. 

In high school, a teacher gave me a copy of Betty Friedan’s book, “The Feminine Mystic”. I thought it was shocking and amazing. Was it really okay for women to develop their intellectual abilities and fulfill their potential? Possibly instead of or a long side a role as a wife and mother? Did I follow Ms. Friedan’s advice? No, I became a wife and mother, above all else. I don’t regret it.  However, when asked if I could do anything with my life what would it be? I had to admit I would like to have a PhD in Art history. Yes, I realize people go back to college and get degrees in their 80’s and 90’s. The problem is I want a doctorate in art history and I want to be 30. Not reasonably? I guess not.

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