and democracy has no chance without women equal.
Five things you might not know
- Crowd scientists (there is such a profession) stated the Women’s March in Washington had 3 times more people than Trump’s inauguration.
- Ashley Judd at the Women’s March said, “They ain’t for grabbing … they are for new generations of nasty women.”
- In 1868, Susan B. Anthony advocated for an eight-hour work day and equal pay for equal work and yet, today, 149 years later, women are still earning just 80 cents for every dollar men earn.
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau should have said, “Women are born free and everywhere they are in chains.”
- According to Forbes, Trump is worth $3.7 billion, a fraction of what women could raise to fund a sustainable political movement.
(5 minute read)
Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau‘s book The Social Contract, published 255 years ago (1762), set out the theory “that only the people, who are sovereign, have that all-powerful right” – and he included women. And yet, even a man of such vision, intellect, principles and morals was quoted as saying, “Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains.” No mention of women – a typical 18th century male perspective. Unfortunately, today, it is still relevant to say, “Women are born free and everywhere they are in chains.” And you can quote me on that.
Rousseau was part of the Enlightenment, along with other luminaries (Voltaire, David Hume, Adam Smith, Marquis de Condorcet and Immanuel Kant), and their vision of the future of humankind was that it would not simply be commercial progress but also an age of reason that advanced the ideals of morality, liberty, tolerance and equality. Boy did they get that wrong. Or at least they were a little short-sighted (by a couple of centuries). Because today we continue to fall far short of any moral core, principled character or leadership wisdom that truly understands the deep, inherent value in the equality of women.
How many years and how many marches does it take for over half the world’s population to get male leaders’ attention, to reach their heart and soul? Of course, it may be that the problem lies in the selfish genes of men, not their heart and soul. And if that’s true then it will take much longer for men to begin to understand, and change, their genetically bias-wired minds (see earlier blogs: Is the gender gap an evolutionary problem? and Men Should Go To Mars, Women Should Lead Earth). For the last 150 years most men have failed to acknowledge women’s equality, watching as a rising tide of women’s strengths lifted all boats, while men stood by leaving women anchored in bigotry and ignorance.
“Men their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.” – Susan B. Anthony.
March on and on and on …
Susan B. Anthony, born in 1820 in Rochester, New York, dedicated her life to women’s rights and it wasn’t until 14 years after her death (1906) that American women achieved suffrage (1920). Her newspaper The Revolution, first published in 1868, advocated an eight-hour work day and equal pay for equal work. Today, we’re still not there with women earning just 80 cents for every dollar men earn. And 149 years later women are still marching for equal rights. It is up to female leaders and people like Ashley Judd, and millions of other women, to change how too many men, for far too long, have ignored the potential of women. At the Women’s March, Ashley Judd made a valiant effort to get their attention when she poetically proclaimed, “They ain’t for grabbing … they are for new generations of nasty women.”
“I’m 17 — Fear Me!” – sign at Women’s March.
Every male leader over the last century-and-a-half needs to shoulder some of the responsibility for not forming a stronger, more prosperous, creative, innovative – did I mention equal – coalition with women. Men, working in full and equal concert with women, could have built a better world and further advanced the human condition, not just economically and technologically, but morally, ethically and certainly more peacefully. But they didn’t. Our human potential, and what Bruce Fritch calls human brilliance, cannot be achieved without women having equal rights, equal voice, equal power and equal positions of leadership.
But as history has shown, it will take more than just another march, even if, on January 21, 2017 there were more than 600 marches worldwide and more than a million participants. Women have marched and protested throughout the 20th century and most men have proven to be slow learners. Frightened adversaries, unwilling and unable to relinquish power and position.
“Our arms are tired from holding these signs since the 1920s.” – marcher Aili Shaw, age 14.
- 1913: A suffrage parade on the eve of President Wilson’s inauguration.
- 1917: Black women in white dresses were prominent in the front lines of a 15,000-person march in New York protesting lynchings and racial discrimination.
- 1967: In December the National Organization for Women (NOW) held its first national day of demonstrations in five cities, targeting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
- 1976: Marches on behalf of the NOW brought 16,000 supporters to Springfield, Illinois, to urge ratification by the Illinois legislature of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
- 1977: 4,000 women and men marched on Pennsylvania Ave. demanding President Carter take a more active role in ratify the ERA.
- 1989: March for Women’s Lives drew crowds that had not been seen in Washington since the Vietnam protests of 1969 and 1971.
- 1997: The Million Woman March, in which African American women filled Philadelphia streets demanding justice and equality.
- 2004: March for Women’s Lives drew a record 1.15 million people to Washington, D.C. 
Perhaps 2017 will we a watershed moment and this collective worldwide expression will be the spark that lights a fire under the asses of male leaders who, by continuing to sit on them, confirm the definition of “an asshole” – as exemplified in the perspicacious book, Assholes by Aaron James (a Harvard Ph.D). James describes the role of assholes in “an age of raging narcissism and unbridled capitalism.” It’s a good read. And James wrote another one dedicated to the new president: Assholes: A Theory of Donald Trump.
Women can make America great … not “again” but for a new generation
According to crowd scientists (apparently there is such a profession) the Women’s March was three times the size of Trump’s inaugural crowd. That’s a big deal. But the President, despite not having winning crowd numbers – except for “alternative facts” – still has the power, and that’s where women need to take their marching orders. They need to march to a drumbeat of change that coalesces politically around the glaring fact that our countries are being hollowed out one community, one institution, one group at a time. Make the purpose even higher than female equality, make it a viable alternative to how Carl Sagan characterized our progress: “We humans are capable of greatness but … we are making a mess of our planet and becoming a danger to ourselves.” This won’t get fixed until men think outside their patriarchal box and allow women their full and rightful place at the head of the leadership line.
Women must mount a clear and powerful national alternative to the populism that Trump so naturally tapped into. Not because he’s natural – he’s anything but – but because it was lying there, festering, growing, rooted in a bed of political manure, just waiting to burst forth. And it did.
Women have the opportunity to foster an alternative populism and they need to understand what Rousseau meant when he said: “Let us then admit that might [or a march] does not make right, and that we are bound to obey none but lawful authority.” They need legitimate, political pluralism, national and international, in order to create legislation that will give them “lawful authority.” And currently, with only about 25% of the votes (or less) in most American and Canadian legislatures, women need to marshal many more women – of all races, places, classes and causes – into a political coalition. And every male leader who possess a capacity for wisdom, vision and higher purpose needs to support and help lead such historic change. If not, it falls into Nietzsche’s hypothesis of “eternal recurrence,” recurring events, marching on and on and on.
Put your money where your mouth and feet are
Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble – Three witches in Macbeth.
In addition to the onstage contribution of Ashley Judd, Scarlett Johansson and Madonna, women need to amass a single fund toward a sustainable, powerful political coalition versus the current fragmented “identity politics.” These three, and others who were in the crowds (Julia Roberts, Katy Perry, Charlize Theron), need to get on the phone and raise money from the likes of: Meryl Streep, Sandra Bullock, Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Streisand, Laurene Powell, Sheryl Sandberg, Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, the Walton (Walmart) sisters. Many more women leaders need to march into the real “toil and trouble cauldron” of politics – sometimes mistaken as democracy. They must transform marching into money and raise somewhere in the vicinity of twice as much as Trump is worth ($3.7 billion according to Forbes). The list of women above could buy Trump out in a New York minute – and get him out of Washington. That’s putting your money where your mouth is. And that’s changing the supernova euphoria of marching into the fuel that can change the long-term, political landscape, giving women a chance to march to their rightful place at the front of the line.
Think about it.