A few years ago, I went to the funeral of Dianne Gilbert, one of the smartest and toughest women I ever met. I didn’t know her as well as I would have liked, but I was there to support her best friend and her husband and children. Her pallbearers were all women, a fitting thing, since Dianne worked her whole life to protect the rights of women. As I sat in the synagogue, filled to High Holiday levels, I could only think: because Dianne fought the good fight for women, I didn’t have to.
Dianne and my mom were about the same age, and I buried my mother two years ago. Her life was very different than mine, and Dianne’s, because she grew up in an era when women didn’t have choices about certain things. Her unintended and unwise pregnancy at age 15 came before Roe v. Wade, and it determined the course of her life. Forced to drop out of school, she lived in a special “home” for unwed mothers until her first son was born and whisked away for adoption. Her only option, as a “ruined” girl, was to marry the father (who became my father, as well), work a series of low-paying jobs, and to endure his abuse. The stigma of divorce at that time was nearly the same as the shame of bearing a child without benefit of clergy.
By the time I was old enough to think about guys and higher education and jobs, my mother’s experience made me determined never – never – to allow a man to ruin my life, to saddle me with kids, to beat me down. And because of women like Dianne, I didn’t have to. She worked tirelessly for Planned Parenthood and many other “women’s” causes because she believed in a simple little thing called equality. I had a career, didn’t have children (which I now regret), and don’t much like the idea of looking over my shoulder to see if politicians are trying to put me in my alleged place.
Ladies, as you head into the voting booth, think hard about which candidate will provide the best leadership on issues that affect you personally. Think about which one will promote policies that set you back 60 years. Whatever else you worry about … taxes, jobs, wars, poverty, immigration, education … it is always, everywhere in the world, the politician who promotes freedom for women that does the right thing on those other issues. Always.
Gentlemen, if you care about your daughters’ and wives’ ability to control their own destinies, they will respect you far more than if you don’t.
Now, go vote.