Hollie Grimaldi Flores: A long way to go
I try, really try, to stay away from controversy. I am not always successful, but for years I have held my opinion to let others speak their own. It was my job as a news reporter, and it was the way I was raised – seen but not heard was the mantra of the times. I later convinced myself that if I didn’t know enough to defend a position completely, it was better to remain silent. And, I do not like to argue, fight or confront, which comes across as nice, but, at times, feels a bit like cowardice. To be clear, I am not saying I am not opinionated, I am simply saying I often stand back when it comes to defending a position. Today, however, there is much on my mind. It’s time to say something.
As a country, we are about to acknowledge (celebrate is simply not the right word here) the 20th anniversary of 9/11. In the West, fires have burned and are still burning in the million-acre range. In the East, hurricanes and flooding have wreaked havoc in regions growing accustomed to extreme storms and hitting other areas at unprecedented levels. Worldwide, people are still getting sick and dying from COVID-19 and the Delta variant – most active cases from folk who refuse to be vaccinated, in protest or protection of their rights as humans. And, in America (as well as other parts of the world), women remain under attack, as governments make laws that limit their ability to function in a free society.
Just over 101 years ago, the 19th Amendment was ratified, giving women the right to vote. It was hard fought and a right not to be taken for granted. Voting rights were determined to be a human right. It was a win, but a long way from equality. A half century later, the “Mad Men” of the late 1960s created a catchy advertising jingle, touting a brand of cigarettes made just for women which included the lyric, “You’ve come a long way, baby.” Even the brand name included bias toward women – Slims — like our little fingers weren’t quite robust enough for a manly cigarette!
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying women have not come a long way, but when you consider the starting point was no longer being considered property, (“So, Mr. Blah, I see your assets here are one cow, two pigs, one bed, two bureaus, a sofa and oh yes, is that your wife? So that’s one cow, two pigs, one bed, two bureaus, a sofa and one human. Exceptionally good, sir”) coming along way still means we have a long way to go.
Truly. Just look at the percentages of women in positions of power versus the percentage of women in the population. Consider the gender-based wage differential. Look at the number of women who gave up their jobs over their male counterparts when the country shut down and it was time to homeschool the children. You don’t have to look hard to see how much change still needs to come and recently, it has become even more concerning, as women are actually losing ground.
There is no way to convince me the latest attack on women’s rights in the not-so-great state of Texas is not about power and control. Men have been ruling since the beginning of time and certainly in the United States of America, white men created a system that benefited white men. Over time, they have given the repressed small (like letting us wear pants to work), and not so small (such as voting rights) victories, but as those victories chipped away at their total dominance, those in majority rule have been quick to remind us of who is really in charge. I don’t understand the women who follow along.
Regardless on your position around women’s reproductive rights, a frightening aspect of the law passed in Texas is the fact that it deputizes private individuals to sue anyone who performs the procedure or “aids and abets” it. Those individuals are entitled to $10,000 and their legal fees covered if they win. People will be able to make a fairly good living as vigilantes.
Knowing the law legislatures wanted to pass would be found fundamentally unconstitutional, devious legal minds developed a work around. It is a very slippery slope and one I hope will soon be overturned in the higher courts on grounds not yet explored. That egregious act, along with voting suppression tactics that are taking place, are exactly why there are higher courts.
But I am disheartened. I heard a “joke” last week from a man who stated that since the death of Justice Bader Ginsberg, the Supreme Court has been “Ruth-less.” Ruthless. The pun stung – too true to be truly funny.
The legacy of the last commander-in-chief is three Supreme Court Justices and a country that has lost its civility toward those with differing opinions. It is a frightening time to be a minority in the United States of America.
Twenty years ago, when our country was attacked, we came together. Fear brought us together. The common enemy was “out there.” For a short time, we did not judge each other based on gender, color, sexual preference or any other bias. Sadly, it did not last and today we are not only polarized in our beliefs, but we have also lost the ability to allow differences of opinions and beliefs. The previous administration brought out the worst in us and gave the underbelly of society a shining light. It is not pretty.
There must be a way to turn it back around. Fire, flood, plague and pandemic have not been enough to bring us together. Even though we don’t all agree, we need to find a way to protect our free society.
I believe, at our core, we are primarily good people, doing our best in an uncertain world with an uncertain future. We came a long way and then we lost our footing. Now you know where I stand.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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