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You've Come a Long Way, Baby! (Maybe)

Guest column

My initiation into the Women's Movement began in December 1971 when I received a sample copy of Ms. Magazine.

When the first regular issue came out in 1972, news anchor Harry Reasoner said it would last six months.

My second initiation into the Women's Movement occurred in 1973 when I attended a party at my local Women's Center to watch Billie Jean King trounce Bobby Riggs on the tennis court. Her victory felt like a win for all women. And it was.

Fast forward 38 years and although Harry Reasoner was wrong about Ms. Magazine, the U.S. Constitution still does not guarantee women equal rights!

The Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced to Congress in 1923. In 1972 the ERA was passed out of Congress to the states to ratify.

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

Thirty-eight states were needed to ratify the amendment but it fell short by three. The amendment has been reintroduced in every session of Congress since 1982.

Polls show more than 70 percent of Americans believe the amendment is already part of the Constitution.

It just makes sense that this should be passed in the 21st Century.

And while we're on the subject, in 2011 women make approximately 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. In 1962 the Equal Pay Act was signed, supposedly closing the wage gap between women and men. The rate of increase has been about one half penny a year since then.

Women have made enormous progress in the work force since the Equal Pay Act, but the stubborn fact remains that four-and-a-half decades later the basic goal of the act has not been realized.

The ERA and Equal Pay for Equal Work are still not realities in this country - much less the world. And why is that?

Are men born to rule and women to follow? No way!

I personally feel that testosterone poisoning and 'womb envy' along with patriarchal religions and governments are responsible for most (but not all) of the problems of the world. Men are just trying to make up for that poor broken Y chromosome that used to be an X.

Of course, not all women or feminists have such radical thoughts.

Many women have succeeded in spite of the dominant patriarchal paradigm. They have had to work harder and longer than most men, succeeding sometimes in spite of many obstacles.

We've come a long way, baby. Just not far enough yet.

- Alana Graham is a member of Friends of the Forest Grove Library.