The 21st Century. For Reals?

I was scouring the 921 section of the library for something to read. We have a better library than most rural areas, but sometimes it is a challenge to find something I haven’t already read. I turned in Jon Meachem’s American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation (I’m sure no Tea Party members have read this book) and was now on the hunt for something new to read. I came across Margaret Truman’s First Ladies: An Intimate Group Portrait of White House Wives.

Score! A woman author who was also the daughter of a U.S. President (you’ll learn in another blog how I got interested in U.S. Presidents). Although this book was published in 1995, it’s timely enough and it’s about women. Hopefully it would also be a good read.

First Ladies is proving to be an interesting read. It certainly isn’t an exhaustive tome of each First Lady, but rather some insight into how some of the First Ladies defined their role and their small place in the history of an emerging nation. We also see how the role of the First Lady is impacted by the changing roles and rights of women over the centuries. These women were pushing boundaries as far back as Martha Washington!

We’re now in the second decade of the 21st century, but you wouldn’t know it by recent headlines. Whatever gains have been made for women over the centuries is gradually being degraded. Here are my top five for starters:

5. Paycheck Fairness Act Fails. When I entered the workforce a squillion years ago, women made 50-cents on the man’s dollar. Now women make 77-cents. Not only is it legal to continue to pay women less for the same job, there is no legal recourse for women to inquire about fair pay without running the risk of being terminated.

The Declaration of Independence, written in 1776, states: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. It’s now 2012 and we still don’t treat all humankind equally.

4. Men still answer for women. Not only do men still answer for women, more men are asked to respond to issues related to women! A picture is still worth a thousand words. Enough said.

3. Erotica is mainstream. An erotic trilogy about S&M has been on the New York Times Best Seller list for over sixteen weeks. Oh, and the protagonist’s first name is Christian. Talk about drinking the kool-aid! Normalizing female submission?!? I officiated a wedding today and the 58-year old bride wanted to make sure there was no hint of submission in the ceremony. She won’t be reading Fifty Shades of Grey.

2. Selling someone? Check the Classifieds. Sex trafficking of girls and boys on Backpage.com, owned by Village Voice Media, is becoming a disturbing trend. Federal standards for child labor laws and compulsory education wasn’t passed until 1938, but the movement to protect children from unfair labor practices was well underway in the 19th century. It’s now the 21st century and children are still actively abused by the worst enslavement of all, sex trafficking.

1. The church remains silent. I know there is a wide-range of interpretation about women’s roles from marriage to church positions. However, the devolution of our treatment of women and girls, or any human being for that matter, is a social justice issue. Church leaders should be on the forefront speaking out against the abuse, discrimination, and denigration of women.

We’ve gone a long ways back, baby. 

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