We’ve Come a Long Way…Or Have We?
In a thought that is somehow simultaneously impressive and mind-boggling, women in the United States have had the constitutionally guaranteed right to vote for nearly 100 years. Impressive because a hundred years is a big deal. Yet, just 100 years for equality of enfranchisement is pretty abysmal. To put it into perspective, both the telephone and the lightbulb, two inventions that literally harnessed electricity and sound waves, were patented approximately 40 years before women had the right to cast a ballot in every state.
But let’s go back a little, back before women earned the right to vote. It wasn’t an easy fight. For over 50 years suffragists had petitioned their government for the right to vote, some even being thrown in prisons labeled “work houses” and force fed when they staged a hunger strike as a form of political protest. (If you haven’t seen the movie Iron Jawed Angels, here’s where I’d strongly recommend it.) These women were strong, but they were facing uphill battles at every turn, including propaganda pieces like this from 1911:
Pay special attention to the rationale, second to the bottom: the avoidance of petticoat rule. The arugment was that women having the right to vote would emasculate the government so much that it would make it effeminate, or just plain ineffective.
So flash forward with me again to today, 2014. Surely we’ve progressed beyond that.
- Women still only make up 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEOS (23 out of 500).
- Women comprise only 18.2% of the US House of Representatives (79 out of 435) and 20% of the US Senate (20 out of 100).
- Women make only 77 cents on the dollar to what a man makes, a pay gap of 23%.
Chatham University is at a crossroads. It can either maintain the women’s college that has existed successfully for 145 years (and the women’s college education that has proven success at creating strong, world-ready women – http://www.chatham.edu/admission/undergraduate/benefits.cfm), or it can actively decide to make the undergraduate college fully co-educational. In an ironic twist, some of the arguments made for co-education sound eerily similar to the ones from the anti-suffrage pamphlet. If a propaganda piece were created for the co-educational vote, perhaps it would look something like this:
The arguments don’t hold up much better than the originals, do they?