Women’s Equality Day Exists Because Women’s Equality Does Not Exist.

August 26 is National Women’s Equality Day because it is the date women won the right to vote, with the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution.  2010 is the 90th anniversary.  When one googles “90 years of women’s suffrage,” 250,000 results are returned.  Goodness.  A cursory review of the first few pages of results indicates virtually all the articles are about how women do not have equality.

“We have this tendency to celebrate, but I don’t know if I’d celebrate that it took that long to get women the right to vote,” said Paula Xanthopoulou, a former member of the Miami-Dade Commission for Women.

Good point, Ms. Zanthopoulou.  Contrary to the League’s giddy August 26, 2010 press release, complete with topical ecards to mark the occasion, the League might serve women better by exhibiting constructive crabbiness.   Why did it take so long for women to have the right to vote?

Why is it that as of 2009, women only earned about 77% of their male counterparts’ salary, with black women earning only 68.9 cents for every dollar earned by a white male and Hispanic/Latina women 60.2 cents, according to the Institute of Women’s Policy Research?

Why, at a Ramadan fast-breaking party tomorrow night attended by a group of highly educated people, will women and men be segregated?  (Why am I going? For business reasons.  Yes, I deeply regret having agreed to it.  No, I am not required to wear a burqa. Do I feel my presence effectively will be condoning the massively sexist policies and practices of many cultures?  Yes.)

Why was the presiding justice of the 9th Circuit District Court of Appeals engaged by the question of whether women lawyers should wear peep-toe shoes to court?  Good news:  The distinguished justice believes it is acceptable to wear them to the office.  Consensus is that the shoes are far to distracting to men to be suitable for court.  Can you imagine?  Men who get to position of judge are so mentally fragile that an inch of a woman’s toes distracts them.  Impressive.  Equally impressive is that women cared enough to ask the question.

Why did an undeniably accomplished lawyer tweet this week that she wishes she were a guy?  This same lawyer told me the number one question women lawyers have for each other is what to wear to the office.  I fed her rightly righteous rage with the shoe story.

Why isn’t the League of Women Voters spending the next two years studying women’s equality,  rather than the role of the federal government in education, which feels a bit distant from our core competency and concerns.  There are any number of facets of women’s equality we could study that have an unambiguous connection to women voting.  For example:  women’s access to the political process; increasing the number of qualified women as elected officials; increasing the number of women in influential governmental policymaking positions (at all levels).

Let’s not be too happy about this 90th anniversary.  It doesn’t do us any good.  Time for activism, which seems to be fed best by rage.  LLII.

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