“We The People” Didn’t Include Women

Mezdulene with a sign at a women’s march, the ribbons representing individual women in her life.

Our constitution used the terms person and people and one might conclude that meant both men and women. However, that isn’t the case.

Yesterday was July 4th, the day we celebrate the independence of our country. I made a post on Facebook saying something about how freedom in our country is something women have fought hard to gain and that now our rights are being challenged. I ended with “ We aren’t really a free country until we are all free.” I got some interesting responses.

Having the brain that I have, I began thinking and then began researching.

The preamble of our constitution starts: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union….”

One would assume that women were considered people, but under the law we weren’t considered people.

At the time, the Law of Coverture was in effect. This law stated that “By marriage the husband and wife are one person in law.” In other words, a woman was not an independent being. In fact, it wasn’t until the Equal Opportunity Act in 1974 that women were allowed to apply for credit without a man. 1974! That’s almost 200 years after the constitution was written.

Roe vs. Wade in 1973 gave women the right to choose what happens with their own bodies and now that right is being challenged with Alabama leading the charge.

The fifteenth Amendment addressed voting. Section 1 states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” This was written to protect the rights of slaves and other people of color but left out women. Apparently women weren’t considered citizens when the 15th Amendment was ratified in 1870 because we did not get the right to vote until 1920. It took us 150 years of battle to gain that right.

I’ve always been a cup-half-full person, but now I feel like that’s an acceptance of the status quo. That’s not good enough for me anymore. I want a full cup.

Changes like voting and abortion rights were created by people of passion, people brave enough to speak up and take risks. I’m now one of those people. I’m ready to speak my truth and the truth of so many other women.

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