Copyright © 2003 Henrietta W. Hay
Women's History Month - 2003
March 14, 2003
March is Women's History Month. We need a special month because,
according to most of the history books, there was only one sex in the
world until the 19th century. One almost wonders how the human race
But in 2003 a woman is minority leader of the U. S. Senate. We have
women at the head of both parties in both Houses in the state
Legislature. One legislator from Mesa County is a woman. We have had
four woman mayors, several women presidents of the County Commissioners,
and many businesses are run by women. Here in our conservative enclave
it is easy to think that these things happened naturally and without the
sexual revolution warfare that took place nationally.
Well now, let's back up and remember.
Does anybody seriously think that back in 1965 these women would be
in positions of political power, or that most of today's female
executives would hold the jobs they have today? What do they think
those of us with gray hair and aching joints were doing back in the
60's and 70's? Why did we become active in that brand new, exciting
women's movement and march for the E. R. A. and stick our necks out at
work, and start to encourage women to run for office? Why did we take
the ridicule and vituperation and constant criticism and keep coming
We believed deeply in what we were doing.
Certainly the picture is different today. I am very proud of the
women who have worked their way into positions of power and prestige,
and I am sure that most of them understand very well what went before
and whose shoulders they are standing on -- the Gloria Steinems the
Bella Abzugs, the Betty Friedans.
This is a conservative community, but the wave of feminism that swept
the country 30 years ago not skip over Grand Junction.
One evening in 1972 a dozen or so women from three very traditional
local women's organizations were sitting around Carole's fireplace
discussing this new women's movement and what it could mean to us. As
we talked we started to make a list of goals for women in the
community. Then somebody pulled out a list of objectives of the
newly formed National Organization for Women. Much to our amazement,
they matched almost exactly. And so NOW came to Happy Valley.
We had a membership of about 30 that first year with a mailing list of
over 200. Many of those first pioneers are still here, and are active
in the community.
The first project was to set up Task Forces. Two of the early ones, in
addition to the political and economic ones, were the Rape Task Force
and the Battered Women Task Force. At that time rape was generally
considered to be the woman's fault, and the victim had almost no place
to go for help. Battered women also had no resources available to
them. These two task forces helped create the Women's Resource Center,
which eventually became Latimer House, a program of Hilltop Community
Of course the whole idea of equality for women in government and the
workplace was revolutionary and met with strenuous opposition. One
night we were meeting in the Mantey Heights home of one member when a
bunch of males burned a cross in the yard.
We were called pushy broads, bra-burners, libbers and other words not
suitable for a family newspaper. Sometimes we still are. But we opened
the door a crack and through the years women have pushed it wider. A
few are finally making cracks in the glass ceiling.
Now we are tired, and a lot of us are gone, so the job falls to our
daughters and granddaughters and nieces to take over the job. They must
realize that real financial and political equality for women is still
far away. Now it's up to them.