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Jan-21-2017 18:08printcommentsVideo

Thousands Fill the Streets for Salem's Women's March

Freedom is always worth marching for.

salem women's march
Salem Women's March brought out thousands of supporters.
All photos: Bonnie King

(SALEM, Ore.) - What an unbelievable turnout in Oregon’s capitol city! The national Women's March on Washington had sister marches all over the country- millions of women and men standing together against inequality, disrespect, misogyny and in unison to improve the situation at hand.

"Stronger Together!" is the chant heard at every event, in dozens of cities, across the country. We shall overcome.

As it rained, we were reminded of Oregon’s fresh air, clean water, and our personal liberty to walk about unimpeded. There were no anarchists, no hate speech, no confrontations with police and no arrests. A perfect, peaceful march.

Why are they marching? Many have asked.

The question begs for a head shake. Simply, the new administration headed by Donald Trump has all people with concern for human rights gathering together.

Immediately upon his taking of the oath for the office of President of the United States, the new White House deleted pages from their website for Civil Rights, LGBTQ Rights, and Climate Change- to name a few. That’s a lot of disenfranchisement.

Women today are not accustomed to banding together for their rights, not like they have in the past. And, our American society is not used to seeing women stand together either. It’s not just women though. It’s all sexes, ages, colors and creeds from every corner of our fair country. And it looks like they have just gotten started.

Back in the old days...

Not so very long ago, it was uncommon for women to be educated. Reading, writing and “ciphering” (math) was necessary for boys, but not girls who would “just” run a home and have children. Many would die in childbirth and be replaced without much delay anyway.

Less than 100 years ago, in the very country we were born in and dwell in today, women didn’t even have the right to custody of their own children. Plenty of parents are suffering in today's world for the fear of losing their children. Now, most have legal grounds to stand on in their fight, unlike women of any color, race or religion from our recent past.

Women were not allowed to own property in most of the country, and certainly could not vote. For the independent American woman, this did not sit well.

Abigail Adams, wife of President John Adams, wrote to her husband in 1776 with advice that we so wish he’d heeded.

On March 31, 1776, Abigail Adams wrote, “ the 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 favorable to them than your ancestors.

“Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

Her husband, the future President of the United States, answers, “As to your extraordinary Code of Laws, I cannot but laugh.

“Depend upon it, We know better than to repeal our Masculine systems.”

He laughed.

It would take nearly 150 years before most American women were allowed to vote.

John Adams believed his actions were most realistic. He did not have concern for the rights of women or children, as few men in positions of authority did. He knew that by sharing “power”, men’s power would be reduced. He reflected the true attitude of the “man’s world”, and he knew it to be his fellow man’s preferred position.

Women have life tenacity

For these reasons and a myriad of others, women have always taken care of each other. Legal or not, we have done what is necessary to survive.

Death due to pregnancy and childbirth has always been a leading killer of women. Until 1936, just sharing information about birth control via the postal service was considered “obscene”.

Women had to educate lawmakers, overcome their fears, and improve women’s health in so doing. That struggle continues, as over 500,000 women die every year from complications of pregnancy and childbirth worldwide.

The brave members of the Daughters of Bilitis were leaders, trail blazers. They founded the first lesbian organization in the country in 1954, to win basic acceptance for lesbians in the United States.

In 1963, Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, making it illegal for employers to pay a woman less than what a man would receive for the same job, and in 1964, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act passed, barring discrimination in employment on the basis of race and sex. These Acts did not change attitude quickly, as culture takes time to be affected.

Until the early 1970’s, women had to wear dresses into a courtroom or be removed. An unmarried woman didn’t have the legal right to use contraceptives until 1972. No kidding.

Then in 1973, Roe v. Wade was passed by the Supreme Court, establishing a woman's right to safe and legal abortion. This sensitive subject of reproductive rights has continued to be a pulpit for many politicians, but the fact remains that birth control is a necessity for the majority of women and, as such, is a very personal decision.

The fight for equality has been constant, with huge steps being made and celebrated at times, just to discover another major challenge ahead.

Tomorrow is another stand strong

This is a part of human evolution. Women and men have worked long and hard for their voices to be heard. For justice to be served. For their children's rights to be considered. We have made incredible strides, but we can never get lackadaisical.

The same is true with all human rights. Just because some great milestones have been achieved the last thing to do is let off the pressure. Human rights must have constant supervision, so that we don’t slip backward, as is apparently so easy to do.

America is Great. America can be even Greater.

Encouraging standards, and a healthy self-respect, would be a good start. As every parent knows, we must treat others with respect if we expect to be treated with respect.

If our new Administration would like to enjoy the respect and adulation of the Country’s citizens, then it seems a remedial task of extending the same. And if that doesn’t come easily, this group of passionate marchers would be pleased to explain the benefits for a happy, healthy America.

As it stands, it seems more than likely that there will be more Women’s Marches to come. Remember what Abigail Adams said, "We are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation."

That's right Abigail, Stronger Together!



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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.