August 26th is Women's Equality Day. If we were being honest, we would call it Women's Inequality Day. Yes, indeed, we did win the right to vote 90 years ago, but that does not equal equality. In that regard, we've still got a long way to go. As Catalyst notes,
Women hold 16.8% of seats in the U.S. Congress, while less than 20 female world leaders are in power. Women hold only 3% of positions of clout in mainstream media. Less than 10% of TV sports coverage in the United States is devoted to female athletes. And of the 250 top-grossing movies produced last year, 7% were directed by women.
Hell, we're even discriminated against when it comes to naming streets--turns out that only 7% of the traffic circles in our nation's capitol are named after women and when it comes to economics, that the faces on our paper money are all male should tell you something.
While Women's Equality Day represents more of a wish than reality, I decided I wanted to learn more about it, and found this on Wikipedia,
Every president has published a proclamation for Women's Equality Day since 1971 when legislation was first introduced in Congress by Bella Abzug. This resolution was passed designating August 26 of each year as Women's Equality Day.
In a section on the modern observance of the event, there is also this informative tidbit:
GoTopless.org, a US organization, claims that women have the same constitutional right to be bare chested in public places as men. They further claim constitutional equality between men and women on being topless in public. In 2009, they used August 26, (Women's Equality Day) as a day of national protest.
That this is the best example the authors of this page could find to illustrate the impact of Women's Equality Day certainly lends credence to the fact that we're just not there yet.
But it isn't just Wikipedia that doesn't get it. Earlier this week, the New York Times ran a profile of political hopeful Reshma Saujani, or more accurately, they ran a profile about her shoes,
Finally, as we returned to her office, I asked: About those shoes?
"They're the Kate Spade wedges," she said, sagging slightly, as if she had only just then been reminded that she had feet. "They're these politician-woman shoes."
I'm not a big fan of high heels, so I might be inclined to vote against Ms. Saujani if such things mattered. But actually, I'd rather know where she stands on issues such as climate change, education and oh yeah, women's rights. Long time political activist and writer Jill Miller Zimon sums it up nicely,
Women politicians should be covered by the media for their issues and character and leadership abilities, based on their experiences, accomplishments and vision for how they'll fulfill expectations in public office should they win. Exactly as men politicians.
It's beyond the pale now: there is NO QUESTION that the NYT did this story to get up hackles and in the end, throw serious political reportage of women candidates under the bus. It's an inexcusable dog and pony show for readers and frankly, if I were that candidate, I would have demanded a different article.
Now -- lest I be picked on for saying that a woman politician should be able to choose being portrayed anyway she wants, fine.
BUT I would then ask: WAS SHE GIVEN A CHOICE? Did the Times say to her: we can either do a fashion piece on you and connect shoes to women running for office, or we can do a piece on how you and Maloney differ and what you bring to the table that she doesn't.
Let's celebrate all that we've accomplished, and honor our foremothers for all of their hard work. And then let's get back to work, because when it comes to equality for women, we're not there yet.
To learn more about Women's Equality Day, click here.