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Have we come a long way, baby?


Arizona Daily Wildcat

By Lora Mackel
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
December 8, 1999
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One hundred years ago, it's very likely that I would't even be writing this article, let alone attending a university. That's all the more reason to celebrate the end of the 20th century, the best period ever for American women. The advancements made by my sex in these last hundred years have been paramount, and the implications of these advancements will be felt for centuries to come. Despite the progress that women have made we cannot stop fighting to create societies that are fair and free for everybody.

Women my age do not really fully understand or appreciate the struggles their predecessors before them went through to give them the lives we have today. Women today enjoy a life that is full of freedoms. But at the beginning of this century, women were fighting for the right to vote. They were finally rewarded with that right in the 1920s, but the notion of the equality of the sexes is a fairly new one. Because of the feminists of the 1960s and '70s, women are now free to pursue the careers, activities and offices that women two generations ago would not have been able to do. Consider this as an example of how things have changed: up until the 1960s, little girls and women alike could not even wear pants outside their homes. Just thinking about the difference between the life of women in 1899, and the life of women now is truly mind-boggling. Women today take for granted so many things that women had to fight so hard for in years past. The right to vote, the right to a divorce, the right to even give testimony in a court are all rights that women a hundred years ago did not enjoy.

We have women in Congress, women in the military, women in all imaginable spheres and careers. But it was only 80 years ago that this country began to see women as full-fledged members of this society. That is a blink of in eye in the long march of time. Women still have disadvantages in this society. Being female makes it more likely that a child will be sexually molested, more likely that she will experience a rape or sexual assault of some kind and more likely that she will be murdered or stalked by someone she knows. Women are also more likely to be the victim of domestic violence and marital rape than their male contemporaries. Women who live into their elderly years are also most likely to end up living in poverty, and because they live longer on average than their male counterparts, they suffer more years of isolation and vulnerability in their advanced years.

Women in our country enjoy fairly safe and stable lives, but in other countries women are not as lucky. In war-torn countries, people of the feminine gender pay a heavy price. As ancient a practice as it may sound, women who lived in countries that are being invaded and conquered are still raped as a matter of course. That means women in countries like Vietnam, Bosnia and Kosovo, just to name a few, are still recovering from the sexual traumas that came along with the other horrors they experienced. In other countries, women are cloistered away from society, and forced to live a life without access to education. Only a couple of weeks ago "60 Minutes" did a piece on the jails that had to be created in Jordan to protect Jordanian women from "honor" killings. Girls are killed by their brothers and fathers because they dare to step out of the narrow roles their societies prescribe for them.

To truly deserve the country we are about to inherent, we must be ever vigilant. We must continue to look critically at ourselves and be brave enough to face the injustices that are a still a part of our society. Brave women like Gloria Steinham, who fought for my rights as a woman, really fought for all of humanity. Injustice still exists in this world, and it exists against women. We have advanced so far, but we have miles yet to go.

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