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When birth control was illegal

I think I knew this, but I was astonished to be reminded by Cecile Richards in her new book that birth control was technically illegal in many states until 1965. That’s when the Supreme Court ruled in Griswold v. Connecticut that people have a constitutional right to “marital privacy.” That’s right. The date was 1965. […]

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A woman’s mind

Lucy Hayes, whose husband was president of the United States from 1877-1881, was the first presidential spouse to earn a college degree. She was hailed as a “new woman”—although she didn’t support women’s suffrage. “A woman’s mind is as strong as a man’s…equal in all things, superior in some,” she once said. Hayes is one […]

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A seat at the table

Women now make up a quarter of the state legislators in the United States. Today, 1,865 or 25.3 percent of the 7,383 state legislators are women. That compares to 344 or 4.5 percent in 1971, according to the spring 2018 issue of Ms. magazine. We’ve made progress, but we still have a long way to […]

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The system of patriarchy

After 3,000 B.C.E., men engaged in warfare on a grand scale, says Walter Wink in his book The Powers That Be. “Social systems became rigidly hierarchical, authoritarian and patriarchal. Women were deprived of the right both to speak their minds and to control their bodies. “The earliest documented effort to establish basic legal rights for […]

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Violence against women

Women still face a number of challenges today, emphasized Judy Norsigian, an author and editor of all nine editions of Our Bodies, Ourselves, in a recent presentation at Southern Methodist University. Norsigian listed three challenges: • The increasing sexualization of women and girls • Violence against women, including the trafficking of women • Threats to […]

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Celebrating 100 years of voting

British women won the right to vote on February, 6, 1918—100 years ago. At least some British women won the right to vote. Only female property owners who were 30 or older were eligible to vote, explains The New York Times. It took another decade before Britain extended the right to vote to all women […]

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Protesting in Iran

In one of Tehran’s busiest squares, an Iranian woman removed her headscarf, tied it to a stick and waved it for all to see. Half a dozen other women have protested Islamic law by removing their headscarf, reports The New York Times. Their protest is significant in Iran, even though the women are “still small […]

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Equal pay? Prove it!

Iceland has a new law that requires companies and government agencies to prove they are paying men and women equally. “Of course, it has always been illegal to unequally pay men and women,” Frida Ros Valdimarsdottir, the chairwoman of the Icelandic Women’s Right Association, told The New York Times. “But this is a legally binding […]

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“We’re done, no more”

Time magazine has named “the silence breakers” its person of the year for 2017. The magazine is referring, of course, to the women who have come forward in droves to accuse powerful men and women of sexual harassment and assault. As actress Alyssa Milano, who has helped promote the #MeToo movement, emphasizes, “As women we […]

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The unsexing of women

Texas Congressman Rufus Handy said that he didn’t “seriously object to women’s suffrage.” Before Texas became the first state in the South to ratify the 19th Amendment in 1919, Handy explained that he feared “the result of unsexing our women….By unsexing, I mean taking away the romance and tenderness—the delicacy and gentleness that makes woman […]

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