Women protesters – In the footsteps of our sisters
Women protesters – It began with one step, as far back as the mid-1800’s when the first women’s rights conventions took place. By the turn of the century it grew into the steady, strong stride of the Suffragette movement – onwards to 1920 when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, granting American women the right to vote. In Canada, the process was different amongst the provinces. It was 1916 in Manitoba when women were first given the right to vote, with Nelly McClung one of the ‘Famous Five’ at the forefront of that fight. Most of the other provinces came on board board between 1916 and 1925, but women in Quebec did not receive that same right until 1940, and only in 1951 for women in the Northwest Territories.
The Feminist Movement (or the Women’s Liberation Movement) took a giant leap forward when in 1962, a book called ‘The Feminine Mystique’ by Betty Friedan, ‘captured the frustration and the despair of a generation of college-educated housewives who felt trapped and unfulfilled’. Women protesters march began in earnest, with consciousness raising groups and protests gaining momentum in the streets.
From there Women protesters marched forth the likes of Gloria Steinem, whose footsteps continued right to the forefront of the 2017 Women’s March in Washington. A new generation of women who benefitted from their predecessors sacrifices and work, now able to make their own choices and defend themselves – heard the voice of one of the women whose footsteps they marched in. She was just one of many others too numerous to mention in this article, who were beaten, ostracized and arrested, who were the pioneers of the civil rights movement and other social issues, who gave women the right to vote, the right to equal education, the right to decide about their own bodies and the courage to speak out.
Michelle Obama, a strong, confident, intelligent woman and First Lady of the White House for 8 years personified all of that and stands right up there with them all. And let’s not forget Hillary Clinton, whether or not she was the right candidate to run for President in the 2017 elections. The ghosts in her closet pale in comparison to the man who bulldozed his way to power with deceit and lies. Many let her down by either simply not voting or fueling the overblown rhetoric the media and opposition put forth. Hillary is a strong woman, a leader who is the result of all the work these women have done – and an example of what women can accomplish today.
They were the Women protesters who defied patriarchal convention, who stood up for the rights we have today, the very rights now threatened in the USA by the changes being put forth by an unstable man and the politicians of an almost unrecognizable party who blindly follow him. And although we live in Canada, we are affected by these changes.
During the recent Women protesters March on Washington, millions upon millions of women, as well as men marched in the footsteps of their predecessors, not only in the USA but in over 80 other countries around the world – marching to uphold and advance the issues so bravely fought for and also those which have become predominant today. They did this not only for themselves, but for all of humanity.
There are still women today who have not fully grasped the true meaning behind the movement, with some who believe we now have all the rights needed and the opportunities that go with it – but the truth is women still have to fight for everything in the corporate world, women still have to fight for the right to make decisions about their own bodies, women still need to prove themselves beyond a reasonable doubt, women are still being beaten and dehumanized.
We can be scientists, athletes and world leaders – but we can also be mothers and ‘housewives’. We can disagree on abortion issues, but that was never really what it was about. It was about being able to choose for ourselves, either way. The March on Washington was about much more – it was about equal rights for all, on every level. What we must not do is to create a division, but rather come together in respect for ourselves and each other – and together we can march towards equality and respect for all humankind.
By: Bonnie Wurst – mtltimes.ca