08 June 2016

Joy in Our Cause

"Women's rights are human rights; human rights are women's rights." - Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Like the fabulous globes created for King Louis XIV of France, moments in the history of the world cascade around us all the time; sometimes we mark them and sometimes they are lost on us as our attention is turned elsewhere.  From my mother I learned something about the date August 26, 1920 that her mother passed on to her: how, after women won the right to vote in the U.S., while some women formed the League of Women Voters, other women took oaths promising never to exercise the franchise.
I think of those women every time I cast a ballot, and I always do.   I think of them when I  remember the day my mother took me to a demonstration at the local newspaper plant where women were protesting employment ads that were segregated by sex and the press-men stood at the second floor windows and spat on us.  And I also remember a day when I was one of hundreds of women who returned to Seneca Falls in search of our history, only to find that the site of the convention of 1848 was  unmarked, a laundromat in fact!
This is a moment of paradox: as measurable levels of violence  are declining worldwide, violence against women is on the rise and, for the first time in my lifetime, there are more men in the world than women.
Frederick Douglas was right: "Power never concedes anything without a struggle.  It never has.  It never will."  
Today is also a moment of joy in our cause.  Savor it.

To read: Claiming An Identity They Taught Me To Despise by Michelle Cliff, Watertown, MA, Persephone Press: 1980.

Image Jean-Louis Aubert - photograph of Vincenzo Coronelli's Globes for the Sun King, Louis XIV, (c. 1681-83) 2005, Grand Palais, Paris.


Hels said...

Many years ago I thought that having a woman prime minister would be an excellent sign of progress, in and of itself. And that was correct, in Australia, Israel, India, New Zealand etc etc.

Until Margaret Thatcher became prime minister of Britain, that is :( Now feminists have to carefully evaluate a woman candidate for leadership, exactly as we would have to examine anyone else. What a shame!

Jane said...

Hels, this is about justice and equality, social virtues. When a friend of my mother's was the first woman to be valedictorian of her law school, the university could not stop patting itself on the back for "giving" her the opportunity she fought for. In her speech, she said she had done this for all the women who had been denied and all the women who had supported her in the struggle.
When I was a girl Charlotte Whitton was elected the first female mayor of Ottawa, Canada. She said: "In order to be considered half as good as a man, a woman has to be twice as good. This is unfair. Fortunately, it's not difficult."

Rouchswalwe said...

Thank you for this heartfelt post, dear Jane! Struggle is the word of the hour.

Jane said...

Rouchswalwe, I can't wait to visit Seneca Falls again to celebrate! I've been told by park rangers that Seneca Falls is one of the most coveted postings in the National Park Service. I'll never forget years ago searching for the building where the Declaration of Sentiments was formed and finding that it had become a laundromat.

Jane said...

Rouchswalwe, as a photographer yourself, how cool is the mirrors above the globes reflecting the people below looking up at the globes!