We visited the Women’s Rights National Historic Park. I had no idea such a place existed. We watched a short film about the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls in 1848. That was 168 years ago. It wasn’t until 1920, 72 years after that convention, that women were allowed to vote.
On the way back to the RV, I started to imagine how the attendees made their way there. There were stories of groups in wagons meeting others along the way, and then at crossroads, soon creating a wagon procession.
I wondered how many women wanted to be there but couldn’t. Maybe they didn’t have the resources to get there. Maybe they had no one to take them. I assume many women suffered ridicule or abuse for simply wanting to attend. I imagine some were ridiculed or abused for signing the Declaration of Sentiments.
The film and exhibits stirred several emotions in me. They illustrated the origin of male propaganda still in circulation today, repeated so often and with such conviction, many females themselves accept it as unequivocal.
For years men claimed that higher education and vigorous physical activity were detrimental to women’s health. Women were supposed to keep house and raise children. That was it. It is still presumed that women are not as competent as men intellectually or physically.
Men still try to control women in their homes, in their relationships, in their communities, and in their offices.
When I started to feel the anger, the pride, and then sorrow for the women who began the campaign for women’s rights, I thought about Hillary Clinton. Now, in 2016, we have a female presidential candidate. Can you imagine the shit she’s been through? She is smart. She is ambitious. She is articulate. She is blond.
She was successful throughout school, but was told she couldn’t be an astronaut or a marine because she is female. Hillary has taken up the work of those pioneers and is getting the same reactions they did. She is ridiculed and criticized daily on everything from her appearance to her marriage to her history of public service.
She, and other successful women, are held to standards imposed by men long ago. Men are not criticized for their imperfect appearance, their failed marriages, their business mistakes, their parenting missteps.
Every fight Hillary fights takes us another step closer to equality. Every time she jumps another gender hurtle, every time she answers to her male peers, every time she is criticized by other women, it moves the country another step toward equality.
Hillary has made historic steps for women throughout her life. And I can’t wait for the next one.
I’m sure Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Martha Wright, Jane Hunt, and Mary Ann Mcclintock are watching.