Women of the Century are not successful despite adversity, but often because of it
They don’t just burn a trail. They use their voices, ideas and bravery. They did it at large rallies and in basements of churches, on big stages and in dusty fields. Some of the victories are known to history; Some wins, just for them. They stand on the shoulders of the ancestors and drag the people behind them.
The women who made their mark over the past 100 years have not achieved despite adversity. They gain because of it.
Civil rights activist Amelia Boynton Robinson marched for the right to vote on Bloody Sunday on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. She heard an order: “Jump on them, friends.” An officer hit her on the back of her neck with a club. She turned a little, and he hit her again. She fell to the ground. They pumped tear gas over her limp body.
She will recover and choose right back, helping Black men and women register to vote.
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician in Flint, Michigan, wants to prove the city’s drinking water is contaminated with lead by examining the blood of children. The state refuses to help. So she studied the records at her hospital, then stood up and told her city that the water had been contaminated. Officials said she was wrong and accused her of creating “hysteria,” before science won.
Now she is working to make sure the victims get the care they need.
So many women now face new adversity. Outbreak of COVID does not significantly affect women, especially women of color. Women make up 46% of the US workforce but have lost 54% of their jobs during the pandemic. Generations of gender inequality have cornered them in some of the most at-risk sectors – food, hotels, retail.
Women also dominate the front lines of the pandemic. Nurses, faces bruised by masks and goggles, teachers try to reassure the kids from six feet away – they’re mostly women. Other women are quitting their jobs, taking time off work or cutting hours to care for children at home or sick families. Scholars argue that the advancement of women can be pushed back decades.
The lessons of the women who bring us these show that from our darkest moments, we find our greatest determination. Who will be forged by this fire?
When she was 5, Rita Moreno left everything she knew and loved in Puerto Rico and moved with her mother to New York. When she first saw the Statue of Liberty, she thought that the icon was holding a giant popsicle stick.
“And my mother said, ‘No, no, that’s the torch she holds so that everyone in the world can see where this wonderful country is, where everyone can be what they want to be’,” Moreno said.
“That’s what it certainly represents at that time, in particular. The woman has been injured so many times since.”
She and her mother had to find their way to a new home with a new language and little support.
“Do you have a courageous choice?” she speaks. “I guess you have. Very limited choice. You can either sink or swim, and I obviously chose to swim.”
Linguist Jessie “Little Doe” Baird has regained the language of her native ancestors. On the journey from a struggling single mother to the “genius fund” winner of the MacArthur Foundation, she was at times homeless and hungry.
“I did two or three jobs at a time to make a living,” Baird said. “It was very tight but it was August and there were a lot of blueberries. So I took the kids to pick the blueberries and I got some flour and baking powder. And we had a Wampanoag dessert. Traditionally, having eaten it for four days, is known as blueberry slump. ”
Her daughter thinks she has the best mom, they have to have dessert for every meal, Baird said, “But we’re really poor and that’s what I have to give the kids.”
Of course, the people who make the change aren’t perfect. They have made mistakes, and many times have learned more from failure than from success. Some early women’s rights leaders were racist and tended to work against the advancement of Indigenous, Latina, Black and Asian women. Amendment 19 gave women the right to vote, but in practice not all were allowed, especially women of color.
Women face all kinds of reasons for being denied opportunities.
She is too silent. She’s too noisy. She is too tough. Is she tough enough? Her makeup is too heavy. She doesn’t even wear makeup. She probably doesn’t want the job, she has kids. She is young, what if she has children? She doesn’t have “gravitas”.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has a nice one.
“My name has been mentioned as a possible secretary of state,” she said. She was the ambassador to the United Nations under President Bill Clinton at that time. “What happened was someone said, ‘Well, a woman can’t be secretary of state, because Arab leaders won’t deal with a woman.’
“The United Nations Arab ambassadors gathered together and said, ‘We have no problems with Ambassador Albright. We should have no problems dealing with Foreign Minister Albright.'”
The fight is personal. The women who create new intrusions often have to start by convincing or attracting the people closest to them – a father who doesn’t believe his daughter should go to college, a sexist boss, a husband wants to have dinner at 6 years old.
Billie Jean King was told by men that women’s tennis players were not as valuable as men, and therefore, would be paid less. She was shocked.
“I have brought the benefit of suspicion to men I know and care about,” she said. “And they didn’t make it. They all said,” Go home and take care of your husband “or” Nobody wants to watch you play anyway. ”
So she walked away and helped form a tennis tour for women where they could make a living and keep their dignity. The men threatened to block them from major tournaments, like Wimbledon. Does not matter. “And today,” she said, “that’s why women make money and everyone has a path.”