In 1776, anticipating the birth of a new nation, Abigail Adams wrote her famous “Remember the Ladies “ letter to her husband, John Adams, later the second president of the United States:
“…a new code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors.”
I first read Abigail’s letter (decades ago) in a college course on gender. At the time I believed women had made tremendous strides towards equality. There’d be no limits moving forward. Alas, my nineteen-year-old self was wrong. As we have learned, despite winning the franchise almost 100 years ago, appearances can be and are deceiving. We still fight to exercise control over our bodies and for essential women’s healthcare. We earn 21% less than our male counterparts notwithstanding that close to a majority of women bear the burden of supporting the nation’s future generations. And let’s not forget the incessant and obsessive pressure to define ourselves and be defined by our looks. While every dog has its day, take it from this woman of a certain age, that day is short lived. Yet, too many of us were, and even now, remain complacent.
America threw some needed cold water onto our somnolent faces on November 8, 2016 when it pronounced that “shrill” Hillary’s pantsuits were simply too unappealing for her to be elected president. Americans preferred the rich, overweight, blowsy, white man who cheated on his wives, grabbed women by their private parts, swindled small contractors, declared multiple bankruptcies, conned thousands of Americans with his so-called Trump University and showed nothing but contempt for the United States Constitution. Now that’s a man, America!
The result? Backed by a transformed Republican Party and a man who can’t wait to get into our pants- each in their own special way- our hard fought for rights are now in jeopardy. They want to control our bodies- no insurance coverage for birth control, but keep that Viagra flowing- they’ve determined God wants all men to “get it up.” And while it might seem trivial, in their latest move to assert their authority over the ladies, they even want to more definitely define and enforce proper female attire in the halls of Congress. Apparently, displaying an uncovered female arm is unseemly. Is it any surprise that women, from all walks of life, sense this burgeoning American Taliban breathing down our necks? None of this, of course, would have shocked our Abigail Adams who understood that men, if left unchecked, “…would be tyrants if they could.”
I believe she would have been proud to see that it has been women leading the grassroots resistance to Trump and his gang through countless actions and organizations cutting across geographic, ethnic, racial and religious lines. I’d like to think this would have put a smile on this founding mother’s face who aptly warned her husband: “If perticuliar [sic] care and attention is not paid to the Laidies [sic] we are determined to foment a Rebelion [sic], and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.”
Ladies, our time has come.