Thursday, July 28, 2016

Playing the Woman's Card and Proud Of It

In 1970, after graduating from college, I took my resume around to many employment agents. They all admired it and gushed, “You have such a wonderful resume for one so young. How many words per minute do you type?”

A few of them threw in this advice: “Enroll at Katie Gibbs. It’ll only take a year. Many girls move up from secretaries to management.”

My male friends did not have similar experiences. NOW had an action at the time where they’d send women and then men with similar qualifications to employment agencies and then they’d compare notes. Their experiences were very different. I remember giving NOW a list of all the employment agents who asked me what my typing speed was so they could investigate those agents.

I attended consciousness-raising sessions and learned that I wasn’t the only young woman who was asked by employment agents about my typing speed. FROM THE PERSONAL TO THE POLITICAL, the most misinterpreted slogan in political history. What it meant was yes, it happened to me. It also happened to hundreds of others. Maybe it’s a political problem demanding a political solution. Thus the personal became political. Nevertheless, it also remained personal. I remember how angry and frustrated I felt. It’s part of my story.

Many younger women who grew up after the women’s movement don’t remember those bad old days. They take it for granted that women can be accepted at medical school and law school, become engineers and CEO’s of companies, Senators and Congresswomen. And yes, even President of the United States. Yes we’re behind many other nations in that regard- England, Germany, Israel, Costa Rica, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil just to name a few countries that have had women heads of state. Nevertheless, maybe America is finally catching up and it's a momentous step for us. Yes, America has come a long way and I hope a longer way by electing Hillary in November. 

When Hillary Clinton was nominated by the Democratic Party  to be their nominee for President of the United States, I felt a lump in my throat. Then I felt a rush. Hillary has worked all her life for women to get equal pay for equal work, for women’s right to choose, for child care that will level the playing field for all women regardless of economic class. We can continue to call those issues “women’s issues” if we want, but they affect everyone in our society. If we want to continue to improve economic justice in our country, they’re vital issues.

Maybe those bad old days are on the way to becoming a moment frozen in history but maybe not. This may not be the case if Donald Trump and the Republicans win and turn back the clock on women’s right to choose, funding for childcare, equal pay for equal work, and many other issues. I'll hope for the best. Then I’ll do what I can to help get out the vote for Hillary and other Democrats. We’ve come this far and it would be tragic to get turned around now.  

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