by Barbara Miller
Today, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day, but wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t need that special day? Wouldn’t it be great if it were women’s equality day every day?
I’ve read about s/heroes who went before us, and I’ve marveled at their strength and tenacity in the face of struggles that would’ve defeated many men.
I’ve also thought about my own family, especially my mother, an insurance broker and holder of her own home mortgage in her own name in the 1940s. And I’ve thought about my Gram Mercer, businesswoman, nurse, farm owner—a woman whose husband broke his back falling down an elevator shaft in middle age.
Today, I not only consider my past excellent examples but my current ones: my daughter Elizabeth who this past weekend helped us clean out our basement.
Backwards in high heels
I recall the famous dancing duo Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and the line about Ginger: how she had to do everything Fred did, only backward and in high heels.
My daughter and son-in-law helped us clean out our basement, carrying up a computer desk for our grandson and a large bookcase—among a thousand other things. She was walking up the stairs backward and wearing high heels.
This is a mere analogy for the tougher, grinding work women have done in a male-dominated society. We earn about 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. And for black, Native American and Hispanic women, that figure is lower. We have not had an equal place at the table, although the situation is improving in many areas. Often when women look for jobs, children are seen as a negative.
I once inquired about a job as a flight attendant — called stewardesses at the time. I was divorced with a young daughter and was told that if I wanted to be hired, custody of my child would have to be signed over to another person — a deal breaker.
Those days are over, and we’ve come a long way, but we’re not there yet. I think about Jesus and his treatment of women: how he uplifted, trusted, respected and empowered them.
If only society could learn from this perfect gentleman.
Barbara Miller served on the churchwide executive board. She now lives in Florida. This blog first ran in August 2015.