Copyright © 1998 Henrietta W. Hay
Women's Equality Day
August 21, 1998
In August , 1920, a fateful vote took place in the Tennessee
legislature. That body made Tennessee the 36th state to approve the
Nineteenth Amendment and on August 26 the amendment was certified as a
part of the United States Constitution. "The right of citizens of the
United States to vote shall not be denied by the United States or by any
State on account of sex."
I remember reading that on the morning the vote was to take place, a
far seeing Tennessee mother told her legislator son that he had better
vote "yes" on that amendment today -- or else. I am not sure what the
"or else" meant, but in any case, he took his mother's advice.
The women's first Presidential choices were Warren Harding, James Cox
and Eugene Debs.
Wednesday will be Women's Equality Day when, according to the
Presidential proclamation, "we reflect on how far we have traveled on
our journey to make America live up to the ideals of justice and
equality articulated so powerfully in the Declaration of
Independence." "Women's Equality" is, in many areas of our modern
life, an oxymoron. There are a lot of bright spots, though.
One of the most exciting ones is in women's athletics, with two new pro
basketball leagues. I have spent a lot of hours this summer watching
WNBA (that's Women's National Basketball Association for the
uninitiated) games. The league is is drawing big crowds for most of
their games, and three games a week are being nationally televised on
three networks. Starting Saturday the playoffs will be televised every
day, ending September 1.
It is a showcase of the world's best women basketball players. They
come from colleges across America and from all over the world. From a
native of Warsaw who is 7'2" tall, to a 5'5" mother of four from Penn
State , they bring strength and skill, wonderful basketball and lots of
personality. Information about the games and personal stuff about the
players is on the web at www.wnba.com
When Cynthia Cooper and
Lisa Leslie are household names we'll talk about Women's Equality, but
in the meantime, those games are great entertainment.
On the political front, women are making great strides. But there are
still a lot of bumps. It might be wise to tell our little daughters to
be careful whom they marry. Just in case the daughter might want to
go into politics later, she should probably pick the quietest boy in the
class, because she will for ever after be judged by her husbands words
and deeds . Ask Dottie Lamm, Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton.
Ben Campbell, candidate for the U. S. Senate, had this to say recently
about his opponent, Dottie Lamm . "I don't think she can disassociate
herself from all the things he (Dick Lamm) did, and the reason is
because she never stood up and said, 'That is wrong.' . . . . She was a
party to those decisions." That's the most offensively sexist remark I
have heard in years. A group of Republican women protested in a letter
to him which suggested that Campbell run on his own record and, "please
leave the attacks on Dottie Lamm's family out of this race. We know
Dottie Lamm . . .has well-defined positions and principles of her own,
and she is definitely not one to be coerced by her spouse."
Geraldine Ferraro was forced into comparative political limbo for
several years after she lost the race for Vice-President because her
husband was accused of financial misdealing. Nobody questioned her
personal finances. She has now is now back ready to take on Senator Al
D'Amato of New York who started running negative ads before she even
entered the race.
Whatever Hillary Rodham Clinton may want to do with her life after the
White House, she will always be judged, not by her own abilities, but by
people's opinions of her husband.
And remember when Abigail Adams stood up to John and said ". . .
remember the ladies." Look where it got her. The Declaration of
Independence says, "All men are created equal.
Women's Equality Day: well, kind of equal. Colorado has a chance to
have a woman Governor and a woman Senator. And women's pro
basketball is getting better every season.