Nel's New Day

August 26, 2012

The Vote – Use It or Lose It!

Today is Women’s Equality Day. Ninety-two years ago today, women throughout the United States gained the right to vote because 36 states approved the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. For the last few generations, women have taken this right for granted, sometimes not even voting. Now a majority of the states have decided to restrict the right to vote, particularly the right of women to vote.

When women change their last name after marriage, updating documents for photo ID may not be simple. A survey from the Brennan Center for Justice shows that only 48 percent of all voting-age women without ready access to their U.S. birth certificates have birth certificates with their current legal name. I know that mine doesn’t. Of the women who have easy access to any proof of citizenship, only 66 percent of voting-age women have a document with their current legal name. Therefore as many as 32 million voting-age women may have no document available that confirms both their citizenship and their current name. Beyond that are women who might use nicknames on a document that doesn’t match their birth certificates.

Those who support mandated photo IDs are fond of pointing out how buying alcohol, flying, entering some buildings, etc., etc. all require photo IDs. They are missing the most important difference between these activities and voting: everything that they cite as requiring photo IDs is a privilege; voting is a right. Or it should be.

During this past year, white males have worked harder than ever to silence women’s voices. Rush Limbaugh called a woman who argued for contraception a slut. This was after Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) refused to let any women speak at a hearing on contraception. Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) presented his ridiculous explanation of how raped women can’t get pregnant. In censuring a female colleague for using the word “vagina” during floor debate, Michigan Rep. Wayne Schmidt compared it to “giving the kid a time out for a day.”

Fox‘s Andrea Tantaros said, “No woman should aspire to be [Sandra Fluke].” Earlier this summer, Brian Kilmeade, co-host of the morning show Fox & Friends, said, “Women are everywhere. We’re letting them play golf and tennis now. It’s out of control.”

Despite the  Women’s Equality Day, women certainly have not achieved equality. The U.S. places 79th in the world in rankings of the number of women political leaders behind countries like Sudan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Morocco, Cambodia, and Bolivia. One of our country’s political parties is determined to deny women equal pay for equal work, prevent family leave, stop organizations (including Planned Parenthood) that provide free care for women, block contraception, outlaw abortion, keep lesbians from being included in the Violence against Women Act, and destroy Medicare and Medicaid which disproportionately affects women. In fact, Limbaugh has said that what’s wrong with this country is women voting.

The term “Women’s Equality Day” was coined in 1971 by the federal government at a time when women had less equality than now. The homage paid to Neil Armstrong since his death last week brings up the little-known fact that women tested for this first voyage to the moon but were denied the opportunity.

Jerri Truhill, one of this group called Mercury 13, said in an NPR interview in 2007, “It was very grueling. It was very painful. As a matter fact, some of the tests, we were told, we came out better than the men did as far as being suited for spaceflight.” The Mercury 13: The Untold Story of Thirteen American Women and the Dream of Space Flight by Martha Ackmann is a book for youth that gives details about the project and the women who participated.

The excuse for stopping the testing was that women didn’t meet the educational educational requirements, those that prevented women from participation. On the other hand, John Glenn was excused from one of these requirements, a necessary college degree. A woman was not accepted into the astronaut program until 17 years later with Sally Ride’s inclusion in 1978. Women are still struggling for military equality, and Republicans now want  to remove them from combat situations.

As Madeline Albright wrote, “Women will never go back to the days where we could not control our own reproductive health care decisions–and we will not remain silent in the face of vicious misogyny and anti-women hate speech.” Yet she added that “rights never stay won” and that “[e]ach generation must stand up and fight to hold accountable those who would try to take our rights away.”

If women want to keep control over themselves, we need to vote and think what we’re voting to preserve or gain.


  1. It was a joke, right? That Brian Kilmeade didn’t say, “Women are everywhere. We’re letting them play golf and tennis now. It’s out of control.” We’re LETTING them??, like it’s something they’re granting us out of the goodness of their hearts, but if we get too uppity they’ll take them away.

    Limbaugh has said that what’s wrong with this country is women voting. Did he really say that?

    I remain stunned at this. Why is this even an issue? How can anyone say ‘we’ and refer to one sex, like we’re another species. Try to imagine the outrage if you substituted the word women with black. There’d be an uproar around the world, but say it about women and one twitches.

    The idea that women need separate laws to give them the same rights as men and those rights can be taken back at the whim of men is grossly absurd. I simply can’t fathom that there isn’t more outrage over this. Is America asleep?


    Comment by gkparker — August 26, 2012 @ 3:16 PM | Reply

    • According to my documentation, these men said these things. And there’s worse to come in the next few weeks.


      Comment by trp2011 — August 27, 2012 @ 8:44 PM | Reply

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