For the first time ever there are 3 women on the United States Supreme Court (this follows another recent breakthrough of 4 women in space this year). Although few projected a contentious confirmation hearing for Elena Kagan, the most recent history making female confirmed to the court, even fewer thought it would go this well.
The 50 year old Solicitor General, whose record on the bench was nearly non-existent and her thoughts on the law were hard to discern, guided her questioners through a labyrinth of questioning that was designed to thwart her, until she masterfully meandered through it and brought Congress out the other end with her. She emerged into the sun-drenched light of confirmation, and made history by stepping onto a court now comprised of more women than ever.
So have we entered the “age of women”, asks Christia Freeland of the Washington Post? (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/01/AR2010070105218.html)
As the founder of Womenfound, I sure hope so. But I must refrain and observe that we’ve got a long way yet to go. The article above laments that it is not, indeed, the age of women because women have not yet made their way sufficiently into the hallowed halls of power and money. Christia Freeland declares that “[t]he areas where the real money and power reside are [still] occupied almost exclusively by men.” This may be true, but I see women’s inequality from a different angle, the angle seen when looking from the bottom up – not the top down.
From my standpoint, women remain on an unequal footing from men, not because they haven’t made phenomenal strides in business, politics, media and in the sciences, but because in the undeveloped or under-developed world they are still so far behind as to lack basic rights such as education, reproductive freedom, voting rights, inheritance rights, representation and even equal protection of the law in the face of abuse and criminal behavior perpetuated on them. This is why women remain unequal: because other than in the few developed pockets of the world, women remain largely oppressed, downtrodden and falsely persecuted throughout their lives. Sadly, they die silently knowing their daughters will live the same tragically restricted lives.
In some corners of the world women and girls are denied the right to gain an education. Similarly, in some countries physicians cannot be trained in the female anatomy and are incapable, as doctors, to render effective medical attention to women and their unique needs. No one needs me to tell them that the lack of education disables women from advancing in any field; but I will impart that the lack of medical attention reduces women’s life expectancy in many corners of the world to their 40′s. How much can any woman achieve without an education by the age of 40?
So no, its not that women don’t hold impressive positions of money and power in the Western world. The problem is that they haven’t even gotten started in most of the rest of the world.
Freeland concludes: “Feminists should applaud Kagan’s poised performance on Capitol Hill, but let’s not stop there. The job now is for women to accumulate their own capital.” I couldn’t agree more. Let’s nod at our collective strides – including Freeland’s – and keep nudging forward.