Sunday, March 12, 2006

A History Lesson

Yesterday I took The Brain to visit the Space and Rocket Center for a day of learning and fun. It is truly something that has to been seen to be believed. I've probably been no less than a dozen times over the years... Hell, I drive past it every day! I guess because I am so used to having it here I was surprised to find that I took something new away from the park this time.

I'm sure that it had always been there and I had just never noticed, but yesterday I stumbled across a dimly lit wall off to the corner of one of the exhibits. It was covered with 20 large photographs taken of all of the women that had logged hours in space. I stood there looking at these women, most PhD's, some military some not, and was struck by such a sense of pride that it stunned me.

(Feminism - that women are inherently equal to men and deserve equal rights and opportunities. )

Stop and think for a moment.

Women were only granted the vote in 1920. Just 43 years later Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space. How incredible is that?? It took the Americans about 20 years longer, but in July 1983 Sally Ride became the first American woman in space, it was another 9 years before Mae Jemison would become the first African-American woman to travel to space.

These women take my breath away! Their courage and the dedication that they have shown the world is nothing short of amazing. I think it's easy for people, men especially, to underestimate the struggles that women continue to face in the workplace every day. It's easy to forget that it's only been in the last 35 or so years that women have stopped being looked upon as chattel, property owned by their husbands. It's easy to forget that until very recently, just a generation or two, women were not considered intelligent or strong enough to have their opinions heard or respected.



I wanted to find all twenty pictures of these amazing women. I tried. I looked in two different gift shops for something with their pictures in it. I searched online. I tried to figure out how many combined hours these amazing women have logged to date but I couldn't. I did find one interesting tid bit:

Dr. Shannon W. Lucid holds the record for the most flight hours in orbit by any man or woman in the world, as a veteran of five space flights she has logged 223 days (5,354 hours) in space!

As a gender, the strides that have been made towards equality in the last 100 years are nothing short of remarkable!!

Consider this abbreviated timeline. You don't have to read the whole thing, but if you do, stop and really think about these dates. With the exception of the first six or so, you should be able to find women alive today that can remember these times. For close to half of them my mother was alive, many have taken place in my own lifetime.


  • 1848 The first women's rights convention is held in Seneca Falls, New York. After 2 days of discussion and debate, 68 women and 32 men sign a Declaration of Sentiments, which outlines grievances and sets the agenda for the women's rights movement. A set of 12 resolutions is adopted calling for equal treatment of women and men under the law and voting rights for women.
  • 1850 The first National Women's Rights Convention takes place in Worcester, Mass., attracting more than 1,000 participants. National conventions are held yearly (except for 1857) through 1860.
  • 1869 Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton form the National Woman Suffrage Association. The primary goal of the organization is to achieve voting rights for women by means of a Congressional amendment to the Constitution.
  • 1893 Colorado is the first state to adopt an amendment granting women the right to vote. Utah and Idaho follow suit in 1896, Washington State in 1910, California in 1911, Oregon, Kansas, and Arizona in 1912, Alaska and Illinois in 1913, Montana and Nevada in 1914, New York in 1917; Michigan, South Dakota, and Oklahoma in 1918.
  • 1896 The National Association of Colored Women is formed, bringing together more than 100 black women's clubs. Leaders in the black women's club movement include Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, Mary Church Terrell, and Anna Julia Cooper.Top
  • 1903 The National Women's Trade Union League (WTUL) is established to advocate for improved wages and working conditions for women.
  • 1916 Margaret Sanger opens the first U.S. birth-control clinic in Brooklyn, N.Y. Although the clinic is shut down 10 days later and Sanger is arrested, she eventually wins support through the courts and opens another clinic in New York City in 1923.
  • Aug. 26, 1920 The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote, is signed into law by Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby.
  • 1921 Margaret Sanger founds the American Birth Control League, which evolves into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 1942.
  • 1935 Mary McLeod Bethune organizes the National Council of Negro Women, a coalition of black women's groups that lobbies against job discrimination, racism, and sexism.
  • 1936 The federal law prohibiting the dissemination of contraceptive information through the mail is modified and birth control information is no longer classified as obscene. Throughout the 1940s and 50s, birth control advocates are engaged in numerous legal suits.
  • 1955 The Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), the first lesbian organization in the United States, is founded. Although DOB originated as a social group, it later developed into a political organization to win basic acceptance for lesbians in the United States.Top
  • 1960 The Food and Drug Administration approves birth control pills.
  • 1961 President John Kennedy establishes the President's Commission on the Status of Women and appoints Eleanor Roosevelt as chairwoman. The report issued by the Commission in 1963 documents substantial discrimination against women in the workplace and makes specific recommendations for improvement, including fair hiring practices, paid maternity leave, and affordable child care.
  • June 10, 1963 Congress passes the Equal Pay Act, making it illegal for employers to pay a woman less than what a man would receive for the same job.
  • 1969 California becomes the first state to adopt a "no fault" divorce law, which allows couples to divorce by mutual consent. By 1985 every state has adopted a similar law. Laws are also passed regarding the equal division of common property.Top
  • 1970 In Schultz v. Wheaton Glass Co., a U.S. Court of Appeals rules that jobs held by men and women need to be "substantially equal" but not "identical" to fall under the protection of the Equal Pay Act. An employer cannot, for example, change the job titles of women workers in order to pay them less than men.
  • 1971 Ms. Magazine is first published as a sample insert in New York magazine; 300,000 copies are sold out in 8 days. The first regular issue is published in July 1972. The magazine becomes the major forum for feminist voices, and cofounder and editor Gloria Steinem is launched as an icon of the modern feminist movement.
  • March 22, 1972 The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. Originally drafted by Alice Paul in 1923, the amendment reads: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." The amendment died in 1982 when it failed to achieve ratification by a minimum of 38 states.
    Also on Mar. 22
    In Eisenstadt v. Baird the Supreme Court rules that the right to privacy includes an unmarried person's right to use contraceptives.
    June 23
    Title IX of the Education Amendments bans sex discrimination in schools. It states: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." As a result of Title IX, the enrollment of women in athletics programs and professional schools increases dramatically.
  • 1973 As a result of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court establishes a woman's right to safe and legal abortion, overriding the anti-abortion laws of many states.
  • 1976 The first marital rape law is enacted in Nebraska, making it illegal for a husband to rape his wife.
  • 1984 EMILY's List (Early Money Is Like Yeast) is established as a financial network for pro-choice Democratic women running for national political office. The organization makes a significant impact on the increasing numbers of women elected to Congress.
  • 1986 Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, the Supreme Court finds that sexual harassment is a form of illegal job discrimination.
  • 1992 In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the validity of a woman's right to abortion under Roe v. Wade. The case successfully challenged Pennsylvania's 1989 Abortion Control Act, which sought to reinstate restrictions previously ruled unconstitutional.
  • 1994 The Violence Against Women Act tightens federal penalties for sex offenders, funds services for victims of rape and domestic violence, and provides for special training of police officers.
All information from this timeline was gathered here. There was way too much to post so I just grabbed some of it to give you an idea.

I believe that now that women can be found in every major occupation and in every office around the world it is important to remember how far we've come. Whether you work outside the home or not you should be proud that you have the opportunity to make that choice for yourself. At the end of the day I believe that what we all really want is to be respected in whatever we choose to do. We should all strive to set an example both for our children as well as other women, an example of tolerance and respect.

Until we do, we sabotage ourselves and we tarnish the legacy left to us by these amazing women.

4 Comments:

Blogger Dubs said...

Bingo and awesome. It is AWESOME to have a choice and the choice to change your mind LOLOL... :)

Great thoughts girl.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Queen of Spain said...

Look at you schooling me today!

7:29 PM  
Blogger Andria said...

Thanks. Every once in a while I like to rant...

3:09 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

I loved this post!!

9:17 PM  

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