I am Woman (Hear Me Roar)

November 8, 2012

Tuesday was a big day – regardless of which way we voted – and I’m glad it’s over.

As I stood in line that morning for two hours (freezing my tuchas off outside for one hour, and inside a gymnasium for the other hour) I did some reflecting on what it means to be considered.

In 1920, something big happened.  Women in America, after hundreds of years of being second class citizens, and thanks to the 19th Amendment, were finally given the constitutional right to vote.

In examining this I found out several things: Some women didn’t want the right to vote; men thought that if women were given the right to vote, arguments with their husbands would ensue and break up the family; women were delicate flowers who couldn’t handle such “hurly burly” things; women were too emotional and made irrational decisions which did not belong in politics; men belonged in the public sphere, while women belonged in the domestic sphere; women couldn’t physically handle the consequences of their political actions; there would be more women voters than men, which men feared would cause the government to focus on female views or an anti-male agenda; some men thought that women were already represented and influenced by the men in their family, which would mean that some men would theoretically have more votes than others.  I could go on, but it’s really not worth it.  Women got the right to vote, and even though some women’s rights laws are in danger of being undone if certain people (who shall remain nameless) were to take control of the government, this one is here to stay.

You might wonder what this has to do with music therapy, or my work in general, and believe it or not, I have an answer.  Some women I work with were alive before the 19th amendment was passed in 1920, before wearing pants was acceptable for us, before women were able to enter the same education and careers as men, before divorce from abusive husbands was possible, before birth control was available, before they were allowed run a marathon, before Roe v. Wade. I talk with them, sing with them, drum with them, write songs with them, and because of all that I learn from them.  I’m amazed at how strong they have been in the face of of war, genocide, grief, loss, abuse and exclusion.  In talking with some of these remarkable ladies, I am humbled by some of their desires and subsequent efforts to be more than a wife, mother and housekeeper.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people who choose to stay at home with their children, who couldn’t imagine life any other way, and that is awesome – and their choice.  But, that choice is really what the women’s suffrage movement, and the current women’s rights movement were/is all about.

Kathrine Switzer, in 1967. She was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, but not without conflict.  The race commissioner is the man behind her, trying to get her to leave.

Ladies I work with have allowed me to grow as a person this year.  While this was not my first election (it was my fourth!), it WAS the first election where I didn’t take my ability to vote for granted.  I have never felt more privileged than I did on Tuesday, standing in line without anyone telling me I couldn’t, and proud that I was using my ability to vote to try to stand up for others, like those suffragettes did in the early 1900s.

All around the world, women have struggled.  Women ARE struggling.  A few months ago, I heard a story about a female singer in Pakistan, Ghazala Javed, who was hated by religious extremists and assassinated because she was too outward with her talent and voice. Just last month, a 14 year-old girl, Malala Yousufzai, also from Pakistan, was shot in the head by members of the Taliban for going to school, and for being a loud voice regarding the education of girls.  She did not die, and the Taliban who shot her have said that they will not stop until she is silenced for good.  These are just two stories of many that show me/us that we are so lucky, here in this amazing country.  Because we were allowed to vote in the election on Tuesday, some of our rights will be preserved for another four years.

 

Here, we are capable of and entitled to make our own decisions about how our lives are going to go, we elect female political leaders, and we empower each other. No one should be able to make our decisions for us, except for us.  Welcome to 2012.

We are strong, we are invincible…

We are women!

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