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Friday, March 8, 2013

Women’s Rights in America decline for lack of torchbearers, collective movement

Put Women in the
Constitution of United States

Time to retake the legacy. Reaffirm women and women’s rights. Reassert woman’s power
By Carolyn Bennett

n today’s U.S. domestic and U.S. foreign affairs, violence is rampant; collective women’s voices are silent or silenced.

In America today, violence rising from men in power (and men still command inordinate power though women are half or majority) rages unchecked, with impunity. Men’s violence, male violence (sometimes executed by women) is law.

In America today, women feign ignorance, even stupidity, or they are intentionally oblivious to reality: some hang on to oppressive male-made religion, male-made laws that imprison and further entrench their enslavement through institutions of Church-Synagogue-Mosque, Marriage, the State.  

Seneca Falls, New York
Women's Rights National Historical Park
Women in U.S. Senate 2012
In America today, as the world celebrates, commemorates or mourns International Women’s Day, women of the United States of America cherry pick men-made issues or latch on to issues cherry picked for them by men: “rights” to “wealth”, to “marriage”, to something termed “man’s American dream,” to some pandered plastered piece of legislation called violence against women act ─ all the while U.S. violence devastates global women; all the while women of the world, migrant and immigrant women, domestic women suffer in the homes and hostels of leisure classes, displaced they cram with families and relations into camps and tents, on streets in boxes, on land borders, and shores of foreign waters ─ under constant U.S. bombs and arms terror and threat, all for a U.S. selective notion  of “liberty”: liberty for some, in some places, some of the time.  
n the face of today’s unconscionable character and performance in U.S. leadership, brainwashed women, allegiant to men’s bottom line, go shopping; sit on their hands or wring them; and or stupidly side with one or another men-made/money-made-and-played politician, ideology or party ─ all corrupt to the core.

This is a far cry from the legacy, the potential, the promise left by America’s eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth- century women.  Let us review some of it.

We hold these truths to be self-evident
that all men and women are created equal

Declaration of Sentiments, Women's Rights Convention
Seneca Falls, New York, July 1848
Women's Rights National Historical Park

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different   from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of   nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a course.

e hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to   refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long  established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves, by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and  usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.
uch has been the patient sufferance of the women under this government, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled.

The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world. 
He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise. 
 He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice.
 He has withheld from her rights which are given to the most ignorant and degraded men - both natives and foreigners. 
 Having deprived her of this first right of a citizen, the elective franchise,   thereby leaving her without representation in the halls of legislation, he has oppressed her on all sides. 
 He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead. 
 He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns. 
 He has made her, morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes, with impunity, provided they [are] done in the presence of her husband.

n the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her master - the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer chastisement.

He has so framed the laws of divorce, as to what shall be the proper causes of divorce; in case of separation, to whom the guardianship of the children shall be given, as to be wholly regardless of the happiness of women - the law, in all cases, going upon the false supposition of the supremacy of man, and giving all power into his hands.

fter depriving her of all rights as a married woman, if single and the owner of property, he has taxed her to support a government which recognizes her only when her property can be made profitable to it.  
He has monopolized nearly all the profitable employments, and from those she is permitted to follow, she receives but a scanty remuneration. 
 He closes against her all the avenues to wealth and distinction, which he considers most honorable to himself. As a teacher of theology, medicine, or law, she is not known. 
 He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education - all colleges being closed against her. 
 He allows her in Church as well as State, but a subordinate position, claiming Apostolic authority for her exclusion from the ministry, and with some exceptions, from any public participation in the affairs of the Church. 
 He has created a false public sentiment, by giving to the world a different code of morals for men and women, by which moral delinquencies which exclude women from society, are not only tolerated but deemed of little account in man.
He has usurped the prerogative of Jehovah himself, claiming it as his right to assign for her a sphere of action, when that belongs to her conscience and her God.

e has endeavored, in every way that he could, to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life.

Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation, - in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of these United States.

In entering upon the great work before us, we anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and ridicule; but we shall use every instrumentality within our power to effect our object.

e shall employ agents, circulate tracts, petition the State and national Legislatures, and endeavor to enlist the pulpit and the press in our behalf. We hope this Convention will be followed by a series of Conventions, embracing every part of the country.

Firmly relying upon the final triumph of the Right and the True, we do this day affix our signatures to this declaration. Declaration of Sentiments, Women's Rights Convention, Seneca Falls, New York, July 1848

  Lucretia Mott
   Harriet Cady Eaton
   Margaret Pryor
   Elizabeth Cady Stanton
   Eunice Newton Foote
   Mary Ann McClintock
   Margaret Schooley
   Martha C. Wright
   Jane C. Hunt
   Amy Post
   Catharine F. Stebbins
   Mary Ann Frink
   Lydia Mount
   Delia Mathews
   Catharine C. Paine
   Elizabeth W. McClintock
   Malvina Seymour
   Phebe Mosher
   Catharine Shaw
   Deborah Scott
   Sarah Hallowell
   Mary McClintock
   Mary Gilbert
   Sophrone Taylor
   Cynthia Davis
   Hannah Plant
   Lucy Jones
   Sarah Whitney
   Mary H. Hallowell
   Elizabeth Conklin
   Sally Pitcher
   Mary Conklin
   Susan Quinn
   Mary S. Mirror
   Phebe King
   Julia Ann Drake
   Charlotte Woodward
   Martha Underhill
   Dorothy Mathews
   Eunice Barker
   Sarah R. Woods
   Lydia Gild
   Sarah Hoffman
   Elizabeth Leslie
   Martha Ridley
   Rachel D. Bonnel
   Betsey Tewksbury
   Rhoda Palmer
   Margaret Jenkins
   Cynthia Fuller
   Mary Martin
   P. A. Culvert
   Susan R. Doty
   Rebecca Race
   Sarah A. Mosher
   Mary E. Vail
   Lucy Spalding
   Lavinia Latham
   Sarah Smith
   Eliza Martin
   Maria E. Wilbur
   Elizabeth D. Smith
   Caroline Barker
   Ann Porter
   Experience Gibbs
   Antoinette E. Segur
   Hannah J. Latham
   Sarah Sisson

  The following are the names of the gentlemen present in favor of the movement:

  Richard P. Hunt
   Samuel D. Tillman
   Justin Williams
   Elisha Foote
   Frederick Douglass
   Henry Seymour
   Henry W. Seymour
   David Spalding
   William G. Barker
   Elias J. Doty
   John Jones
   William S. Dell
   James Mott
   William Burroughs
   Robert Smallbridge
   Jacob Mathews
   Charles L. Hoskins
   Thomas McClintock
   Saron Phillips
   Jacob P. Chamberlain
   Jonathan Metcalf
   Nathan J. Milliken
   S.E. Woodworth
   Edward F. Underhill
   George W. Pryor
   Joel D. Bunker
   Isaac Van Tassel
   Thomas Dell
   E. W. Capron
   Stephen Shear
   Henry Hatley
   Azaliah Schooley

The Equal Rights Amendment

Section 1
Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Section 2
The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3
This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

Written by suffragist leader Alice Paul, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was first proposed and introduced in Congress in 1923.

ithout the ERA, the Constitution does not explicitly guarantee that the rights it protects are held equally by all citizens without regard to sex. The first – and still the only – right specifically affirmed as equal for women and men is the right to vote.

The equal protection clause of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment was first applied to sex discrimination only in 1971, and it has never been interpreted to grant equal rights on the basis of sex in the uniform and inclusive way that the ERA would.

The ERA would provide a clearer judicial standard for deciding cases of sex discrimination, since federal and state courts (some working with state ERAs, some without) still reflect confusion and inconsistency in dealing with such claims. It would also clarify sex discrimination jurisprudence and 40 years of precedent for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who claimed in an interview reported in the January 2011 California Lawyer that the Constitution, specifically the 14th Amendment, does not protect against sex discrimination.

The ERA would provide a strong legal defense against a rollback of the significant advances in women’s rights made in the past 50 years. Without it, Congress can weaken or replace existing laws on women’s rights, and judicial precedents on issues of gender equality can be eroded or ignored by reactionary courts responding to a conservative political agenda.
Eleanor Roosevelt
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Without the ERA, women regularly and men occasionally have to fight long, expensive, and difficult legal battles in an effort to prove that their rights are equal to those of the other sex.

Affirm together
Global  Women's Rights
The ERA would improve the United States’ human rights standing in the world community.
The governing documents of many other countries affirm legal gender equality, however imperfect the global implementation of that ideal may be.

ongress passed the ERA in 1972 and sent it to the states, with a seven-year deadline for ratification. Congress later extended the deadline to June 30, 1982. The ERA received 35 of the necessary 38-state ratifications.

The amendment has been reintroduced in every session of Congress since that time. The ERA resolutions in the 112th Congress (2011-2012) are S.J. Res. 21 (lead sponsor Sen. Robert Menendez, D-NJ) and H.J. Res. 69 (lead sponsors Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, and Rep. Judy Biggert, R-IL). To put the ERA into the Constitution, the bills would require passage by a two thirds vote in each house of Congress and ratification by 38 states.

hy is it that American women for decades have argued endlessly ─ divided themselves and the country, allowed themselves to be played by men ─ over wedge issues such abortion and chattel-era marriage; yet they cannot organize collectively in full strength and power to pass substantive, regularly monitored, and enforced human rights law?

More than a century has passed ─ 165 years ─ since the Women’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls. Doesn’t that make you feel ashamed of a critical, colossal, but not inevitable failure to assert woman’s power? It does me.

 believe it is time that torchbearers rise, retake the legacy, and carry on. Reaffirm women and women’s rights. Reassert and collectively sustain the power of women.

Sources and notes

Declaration of Sentiments, Women’s Rights National Park, New York, http://www.nps.gov/wori/historyculture/declaration-of-sentiments.htm


National Council of Women’s Organizations, 714 G Street, SE, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20003, 202-293-4505, (fax) 202-293-4507, ncwo@ncwo-online.org, www.womensorganizations.org; ERA Task Force (Roberta W. Francis, Chair): era@equalrightsamendment.org, www.equalrightsamendment.org October 2011

The Equal Rights Amendment: Unfinished Business for the Constitution, a 17-minute educational video premiered in Seneca Falls, NY, during the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the 1848 Woman’s Rights Convention, is available from the Alice Paul Centennial Foundation, Mt. Laurel, NJ, 856-231-1885.


Bennett's books are available in New York State independent bookstores: Lift Bridge Bookshop: www.liftbridgebooks.com [Brockport, NY]; Sundance Books: http://www.sundancebooks.com/main.html [Geneseo, NY]; Mood Makers Books: www.moodmakersbooks.com [City of Rochester, NY]; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center: www.enlightenthedog.org/ [Buffalo, NY]; Burlingham Books – ‘Your Local Chapter’: http://burlinghambooks.com/ [Perry, NY 14530]; The Bookworm: http://www.eabookworm.com/ [East Aurora, NY] • See also: World Pulse: Global Issues through the eyes of Women: http://www.worldpulse.com/ http://www.worldpulse.com/pulsewire http://www.facebook.com/#!/bennetts2ndstudy

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