Women's Equality Day
August 26 is U.S. Women's Equality Day, established by President Jimmy Carter to mark the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution on August 26, 1920. This year it comes just after a form of contraception, which has been kept from wider availability for no good scientific reason, has finally been approved for sale without a prescription.
You may have your own ideas about how to celebrate. For starters, we suggest reading Timeline of the Suffrage Movement and A Brief History of the Women's Suffrage Movement, and meditating on why it took a fight of 72 years to get the United States to grant women the right to vote and what you can do to keep women's issues in the forefront politically, socially, and spiritually. An excellent book on the connection between the fight for women's suffrage in the U.S. and religion in post-civil war America, including Spiritualism, is Other Powers by Barbara Goldsmith. There's also a new novel, Sex Wars by Marge Piercy, with the same historical characters plus some invented ones, including a woman who goes into the condom-manufacturing business. I'm reading the novel now and gaining new insights into both post-Civil War feminism and what's going on today.
The approval of the contraceptive "morning-after" pill (Plan B) for sale over-the-counter adds to my sense of celebration (although I would have preferred to see the approval go through without an age limit). I want to thank everyone who worked so hard and long to get this approval. Like the right to vote, it shouldn't have taken so long. In the reasonable, compassionate society that many of us are striving for, it would be outrageous to allow society – to allow the State – to control women's bodies. Rather, it would be a given that each individual woman is in control of her own body. But we're not there yet. So like our foremothers, we will continue to do what it takes to achieve our goal.