The oppression of women has many aspects. Some are obvious – lower pay than men, for example. But others are masked by centuries-old cultural traditions – externally imposed standards of morality and demeanor, makeup, hair styles and attire, social interaction, even what they should eat and how they should eat it.
How many times are little girls admonished to “act like a lady?” How many times are they restrained and rebuked for “being a tomboy”? How often are young women shamed on social media for “inappropriate” behavior?
Even a woman’s body is not entirely her own. Society dictates what she must wear, for example. But one precious right was affirmed more than four decades ago when the US Supreme Court ruled that she – and she alone – can decide whether to give birth.
It is, said the court, a private matter, and the Constitution provides US citizens with the right to privacy.
But there were – and are – many who find that ruling barbaric. They insist that the unborn fetus in a woman’s body has rights, too. The right to be born, for example.
These people have waged a relentless crusade to make the state force women to give birth whether they want to or not, even in cases of rape and incest, even if it endangers her life.
This battle has been fought on many fronts, some of them thinly disguised as “health issues.” Half of the states in America have adopted “women’s health” legislation designed to drive abortion clinics out of business.
But the Supreme Court has torpedoed that sneaky campaign. In a five-three ruling announced yesterday, the court struck down a Texas law imposing untenable regulations on abortion clinics. The court unequivocally rejected the ruse of protecting women’s health, setting a precedent for rejection of similar laws across the country.
It is a monumental victory for America’s women.
Of course, the battle for women’s rights is not over. The “glass ceiling” that has kept any woman from becoming US President is yet to be shattered, for one thing.
But on TV last night, I saw not one but two strong women campaigning side by side, and I envisaged them together in the White House, leaders of the free world.
I thought I saw the dawn of a new day for America’s women.
I thought I saw the glass ceiling splintering, the shackles falling from the wrists and ankles of millions of little girls across the land. And Martin Luther King’s cry of joy came to mind:
Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we’re free at last!