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.
- The Social Contract, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Book I, Chapter Three, p. 8, Wordsworth Editions, Cumberland House (1998).
- History of Marches and Action, National Organization for Women.
Who cares about the crowd numbers??? Really, this is what we’re talking about, how many people show up to a march vs. a speech. It’s laughable. What are we in high school? Sure Trump compounds the issue by not letting it go, but honestly I’ve never heard of the press talking about a previous Presidents crowd size at the Inaugural Speak.
Women protesting against Trump, sure we get it. But wait when Bill Clinton was President where were all the women protestors? How big were those crowd sizes? Bill Clinton, the President who slept with women behind his wife’s back and finally got caught getting secret service from a 22 year old White House Intern. Who was Impeached on two charges; perjury and obstruction of justice! How big were the protesting crowd then? What about the WhiteWater scandal. And then there is Hillary…corrupt, corrupt, corrupt! But we’ll save that for another day.
I agree! Put your money where your mouth is Celebs! Really these Celebraties that jump on the band wagon at these rallies are ridiculous. These actors and actresses make more money than 85% of the American population, live in mansions in Beverly Hills, Malibu and Bell Air. But “they’re for the people”. They get up and say their speech and then whisk away in their limos back to their penthouse suite at the Four Seasons. They are not truly making a difference because they’re not prepared to raise the money as you suggest. It’s just good PR for them…keep women coming to see their movies and tv shows! “Oh I like her, she came out and marched and gave a great speech.” Remember they are actors…they act!!
Trump protestors broke store fronts, smashed and vandalized public property. Really? Is that the American way?
Agree, in part. This isn’t about Trump or Bill Clinton or celebrities, it’s about the blinding glimpse of the obvious: women have been subjugated for all of history and since the Enlightenment more than two centuries ago we, the men (supposedly enlightened) have done very, very little about it. And we’re still doing it – nothing. So the women march and march and march. And we get the likes of Donald and Bill who, by example, from the highest office in the land double-down on our male stupidity, operating from their amygdala (reptilian brain), ignoring the incredible potential women have and could bring to making the world a better place. This isn’t about just another immature president, it’s about the obvious failure of men across history to build the much needed balance with half the species.
It’s not about the marches, it’s about what they represent and mirror back to our society: An underdeveloped, myopic, male dominated culture that that cannot rise above it’s genetic instincts to suppress the female of the species – primarily because of male insecurity. Consequently, the improvement of humankind is hamstrung and the advancement of the species is curtailed and delayed. Neutered? I think the fear of women everywhere is that Trump will facilitate the worst traits in men and undermine the advancement of women’s rights. That should be a valid concern to everyone, including men, and if something is not done to offset it, we all lose.
“When you blame others you give up your power to change” – Robert Anthony
That’s a pithy quote and applicable in most cases. But the female equality issue is not about blame, it’s about root causes. It’s understanding the historic subjugation, intended and unintended, of one half of the human species. Men, having lead humankind for millennia have ignored half the potential of human beings, to their own detriment (That’s a Darwinian issue for another discussion). The needed “power to change” must first come from those in leadership, and the majority of those people are men. It’s not about blame, it’s about responsibility. A relevant quote would be: “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” – Edmund Burke.
(from PK): David—continue to enjoy your blog—but as I keep saying—needs more balance. For example I I have trouble with the whole “women’s” march thing, and some of the articles comments…
The marchers were there, I believe, to express their fear, and anger. As well as their solidarity and resolve. It was truly epic. (btw–by the numbers, it was not the largest—it was surpassed by the 2004 March for Women’s Lives, when George W. Bush was in office). The march was important….it served to remind Americans – and the world – that peaceful protest is a hallmark of democracy. Up to a million citizens turned out to demonstrate …and nothing bad happened. That is something to celebrate, and also something we should never take for granted.
However I think women’s solidarity is a mirage. Forty-two per cent of U.S. women voted for Donald Trump. Among white women 53 per cent. The people we saw on that Saturday in January reflected the Democratic base: big-city urban and suburban professionals, overwhelmingly white, along with people from minority groups. Even Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, and Madonna – were relics from another age.(i.e. the glorious days of feminism)..
But now feminism seems to be a movement for a variety of “other” progressive causes. [For example: One sign said “Free birth control and Palestine,” If you believe in one, then you’re assumed to automatically believe in the other one. Feminism used to be a big tent. Today, admission is restricted to those who deplore Israel etc.].
The old feminism is entrenched (i.e. we are not going back to barefoot and pregnant any more than gay people are going back in the closet). Hurray for that!!. Abortion rights will NOT be repealed….Roe v. Wade is safe for quite a while to come, no matter how many anti-abortion judges Trump appoints to the Supreme Court. ….it’s very hard to envisage a world where women will be searching for abortions in back alleys.
Mr. Trump may be a nasty piece of work….but I do not think he is a threat to women’s rights.
My point is this…what about the women missing from the march – the millions who voted for Mr. Trump? Many of these women live in smaller cities and towns. There are more of them than you think. Some are pro-life. Most don’t care much about free birth control, or Palestine etc…they care about the quality of the local schools, and jobs, and whether they can afford to stay home until their kids reach school age.
The real lesson of this march on Washington is that women are as divided as the country. Gender is not a voting bloc. And the secret of defeating Mr. Trump is not more identity politics, but less. …meaning progressives who want to win must make room for “all” women …even those they don’t like!
…Phil….keep the posts coming..(maybe with a touch of balance!!)
@Phil – You’re right on many of these points but that’s not the point. And you’re right about Trump being a “nasty piece of work … but I do not think he is a threat to women’s rights.” That’s half the point. He is a threat. And he’s symbolic of a past that is anti-women, one that men should want to grow out of. He is representative of a type of leadership we need to escape. His type of leadership, viewed in the highest leadership position in the world, will only exacerbate women’s problem of attaining their rightful place in leadership. He is the epitome of what leadership has been since time began: Genetically driven, patriarchal, male-dominant leadership that has ignored half the talent in the world – women. As I said in the blog, this march is not the point, women have been marching for hundreds of years,it is just a means to reach an end. And that end is: Get MEN to understand and accept the error of their ways – and the countless failures because of their shortcomings – and have men lead the women’s movement. Why? Because they finally realize the greatly increased value and advantage if women are truly on an equal footing with men (see two other blogs: “Is the gender gap an evolutionary problem” and “Men should go to Mars, women should lead Earth.”). This is about men understanding the core problem, not the short-term political machinations. Trump will never understand it.