Women's suffrage supporters picketing at the White House and members of the Texas Federation of Colored Women's Clubs working for suffrage
The (not so long) arc of history
People who think you could wave a magic wand and the legacy of the past will be over are blind. - Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Less than a century ago, women in the United States did not have the right to vote. Less than 50 years ago (1977), Harvard University didn't truly admit women. The gender pay gap still exists. And, near and dear to us, an "orgasm gap" and general disparity is the acceptability of female pleasure still exists.
It's easy to forget how close so many of these milestones our to our own lifetimes—or easily within the lifetimes of our mothers or grandmothers. And as much as this arc of history has uneven and fraught aspects to it, we've still come so far. And have still further to go.
The past two years
It's been a dark two years for women. We got new federal rules allowing employers to opt-out of insurance coverage for contraception—which is not only damaging to the right to control one's own body, but also a terrible setback for women's health given how many conditions are treated with birth control. We've had brazen disrespect of women and casual normalization of sexual assault from the highest levels of our government. And we've had an almost, constant drumbeat of sexual assault and workplace harassment scandals.
At the same time, we've seen unbelievable political activism and participation that started from, but didn't end with, the Women's March. We've witnessed the continued rise of the #MeToo movement. And we now have record-breaking numbers of women running for office, many for the first time.
There's been a lot to despair about—but also have much to hope for.
It's easy to think that as an individual, you don't have much influence. It's easy to think that your actions don't matter. Rationally speaking, your vote doesn't even matter if it's not the decisive one, right?
It's easy to think that way, but our great grandmothers didn't even have the right to vote. And the most momentous events in history have often turned on small acts of "showing up." In 1920, it came down to a single mother's letter that ultimately helped pass the 19th Amendment.
On November 6th, show up. That's what civic participation and democracy is all about. After all, the long arc of the moral universe may bend towards justice—but it only does that because all of us are pushing it there.
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