The Taking Place blog has asked blogs that do not normally talk about women’s issues to write at least a little something against sexism or for women’s/gender liberation on March 8 – the International Women’s Day.
I have been reading recently about Lucretia Mott, the famous Quaker minister, abolitionist, social reformer and proponent of women’s rights. My brother and aunt, who are in the process of writing a book about our family genealogy, told me that a few of our ancestors who were Quaker abolitionists knew Lucretia Mott and other famous abolitionist leaders.
In the same way that Quakers came to believe that slavery was wrong and starting working for its abolition earlier than the rest of society, they also believed that women had the same right to an education and the right to speak in public as did men. Unfortunately not all of the anti-slavery movement felt the same way. When Lucretia Mott attended the International Anti-Slavery Convention in London, England in June 1840 as a delegate she was not formally seated and had to speak from a roped-off women’s section out of view of the men. Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton returned from England determined to hold a convention and form a society to advocate for the rights of women.
We have made a lot of progress in woman’s equality since those days, at least in the North America and Europe. We have removed most of the legal and institutional barriers to equality. But there is still a lot of work to be done, much of it within people’s own psyche and expectations. Hollywood no longer makes movies about young girls passively waiting for their prince to come, but many young women seem to think their physical appearance, rather than their education, skills and talents determine their career choices. Why does my teenage daughter pay so much more attention to women like Anna Nicole Smith than to women like Nancy Pelosi, or Drew G. Faust, the first woman president of Harvard?