To all the women out there, this is your month. The 2018 theme, Nevertheless She Persisted, could not be more appropriate.
I am sure you’ve heard the phrase, especially if you are connected to social media. It came to life during Mr. Sessions’ confirmation hearing for Attorney General in early 2017. If you watched it on TV or saw a replay you will remember that Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, was protesting Sessions’ confirmation and reading a letter that Coretta Scott King had written in 1986. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, used the phrase nevertheless she persisted after attempting to silence Warren during her reading. Within moments feminists latched onto the phrase, flooding social media with the hashtag. I get it. No one wants to be silenced when they have something important to say. No matter how you feel about the chain of events leading to this phrase, it sure became a loud battle cry.
The 2018 Women’s History theme of persistence celebrates all women who are fighting all forms of discrimination against women. Whether fighting for equal pay or against sexism in all its forms we need women and men who persist. Persistence is what helps to create change.
It is always good to be reminded that women did not get the right to vote in the United States until 1920. It took more than 70 years of persistence for that to finally happen.
Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone were persistent women. Thank God for them and all the persistent women who came after them. Whenever I stop to think that it is possible I could have lived in a country where I was not allowed to vote because it was assumed that I as a woman was not concerned with politics or because my husband would represent me, I shudder. I thank each and every persistent woman who spoke up, went to jail and filed lawsuits that would benefit me and all my sisters.
Today, we continue to be persistent about things like equal pay and sex or gender discrimination in the workplace. It is hard to believe that in 2018 these still exist. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 made it a requirement that pay scales be the same for identical work. Fast forward to 2015. Women only earned 83% of what men earned in the same job. Some more persistence is needed here wouldn’t you say?
Then along came the #MeToo movement in 2017. The magnitude of widespread sexual assault and harrassment, especially in the workplace, was brought to the forefront where it has always belonged. Women from all walks of life are now feeling empowered to recount their stories. I have my own #MeToo stories and almost every woman I know has one or more. I believe the intent of this movement was to shed some light on the magnitude of the problem. While that worked thanks to social media I am conflicted with the end result. Is it that we have to show one million examples before it is acknowleged as a problem? Our culture has allowed this to go on since the beginning of time. I am not sure that the sharing of these stories of Facebook and Twitter will change that culture.
Let’s be persistent in our conversations with men in power, our brothers, our husbands, our sons, our grandsons and our male friends. They have to be included in our discussions about equal pay, equal rights and how we want to be respected personally. I feel very fortunate that I have men around me who value women as their equal and support their need for persistence in having these important discussions.
Women have come such a long way from 1920 when first allowed to vote. We are doctors, lawyers, scientists, astronauts, and CEO’s. Think about what it has taken women to reach these milestones. It is a remarkable showing of strength, determination, resilience and persistence.
My life is easier thanks to all of the women who came before me. I hope that I have been able to do my part in ensuring the generations behind me have it even easier. I hope in the remainder of my lifetime I see a shift that finally brings wage equity. I pray the sexual harassment culture that has been accepted for so long is toppled.
Happy Women’s History month to all of you strong, beautiful women. I am grateful to be a part of the tribe.
Peace and Love,