We would suggest that the program, popularly known as, “The Women’s Movement,” be renamed, “The Women’s Movement for Civil Rights and Dignity.” The alteration in name would continue to express women’s aspirations and entitlement to rights equal with male citizens, but, would add as an additional purpose, the dignity of her own private person. In the arena of legal and societal rights, we have, admittedly made substantial progress; unfortunately, we are unable to similarly celebrate, an improved respect for women’s sexual status. More on this specific subject, later in this post.
America’s founding documents radically declared, that “all men were created equal.” The latter phrase, often misunderstood, was intended to sound the death knell to the ancient European institution of privileged birth. Based upon subsequent interpretation and uses, as well as other expressions of intention, it was taken to refer to the “rights of all men” [we would have preferred “all people”]. It was first intended to be applicable to “white men” with property. It took centuries to change this proviso, and no less than a shameful, national sacrifice of blood and treasure, in order to properly include black people within the category of “all men.”
Until the latter part of the l9th Century, the concept of personal rights for women, was non-existent. Thanks to many people, notably, Elizabeth Stanton Cady, (1898), a movement was begun to improve the status of women; to enable them to vote, own property, and to enjoy the privileges of being an adult person. The latter privilege, is to be contrasted with women’s previous status, living under the legal protection of a husband or male guardian, and pursuant to his dictate.
Readers of Victorian literature are aware of the status of women living in 19th Century England. They were little more than supporting players in the home, supervising its running (generally, in accordance with the husband’s wishes) looking pretty, giving birth to offspring and nurturing them, sewing her husband’s linens and perhaps playing the piano or painting pictures. A woman could not legally own property; even her inheritance would go to her husband, who, with the assistance of his personal solicitor, would carve out for her a “settlement” (deducted) from such inheritance. She, unlike men, had no “friends,” but only family and relatives who constituted her social life.
Women were given the right to vote, sign contracts, and own property as late as the 20th Century; but it essentially remained a male dominated world, especially, as far as governance, employment, education, choice of career or profession were concerned. Today, women still strive for gender equality with men in areas of politics, equal wages and employment opportunities.
It was a full seventy years ago that a United Nations Charter expressly proclaimed:”to every human being, living on the planet, all women have the right to live free from violence, slavery and degradation, to own property and receive an equal wage.”
We are pleased to celebrate the significant extent of progress achieved in women’s legal and social rights (however slowly, and by necessity, from men in power). It is, however, puzzling and disturbing that society, which has been brought to a higher level of consciousness in recognizing the justice of equal legal and self-determinative rights for women, persists in vigorous contention over the propriety and legality of control by women over their own body; regarding the right to an (early term) abortion. Certainly, the aspiration to successful family planning does appear to be, manifestly, an appropriate, rational and personal matter.
Most troubling by far, is the sociopathic perception of certain singular male members of society, that the female body was created for their own personal attraction, and accordingly, is to be naturally and appropriately exploited by them; having no accompanying feelings of empathy or pangs of conscience. There are a great many reported instances of sexual abuse, most of which is stereotypically and dishonorably, committed by men in positions of power and influence, vis-à-vis the victim. Most instances of this pernicious misbehavior unfortunately, and understandably, go unreported for various reasons including, fear and shame.
The female victim is neurotically selected as the intended victim of the sociopathic offender’s lust. There is a complete absence of consideration on his part, for her feelings, her reaction, nor any basic empathy or remorse for her, as a fellow human being; perhaps, someone’s mother or sister. This atavistic, disgusting perversion is assuredly equal and democratic; ranging, all the way from the scuzzy neighborhood creep, to the rich movie mogul, and from a nominee to Judgeship on the Supreme Court of the United States, to the currently sitting President.