Last week, I visited the Statue of Liberty. As you do.
It was part of a three-day whirlwind trip to NYC with a friend. And for those keeping score at home, yes, this is how I used my frequent flyer miles instead of buying a Barbie house/chicken coop.
Anyway, we’d both seen Lady Liberty before but neither of us had actually been to Liberty Island. So, we braved the crowded ferry and got our audio guides and walked around what is truly a big statue.
The audio tour was bossy as hell. “Turn to your left. Look up. Now look away! Now walk three steps to your right! Now look up! I said look up! Doooo eeeeeeet!”
Combine all the directions with tourists who insisted on having their photos taken about every 10 feet so as to capture a different angle of the statue and, well, we were kind of over the whole deal.
The audio guide did drop a bombshell. And that bombshell was that when the Statue of Liberty was officially unveiled in 1886, no women were allowed at the ceremony.
According to wikipedia, the official line was that event coordinators were worried the fragile ladies would be crushed in the crowd, what with the strapping menfolk being so caught up in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. A group of suffragettes chartered a boat and had their own ceremony, cheering liberty being personified as a woman. Oh, and talking about how women should be able to vote.
It only took 35 more years!
So, today, I’m thinking about that men-only ceremony to fete freedom, of all things. And I’m thinking about my grandma, who was born before women had the right to vote. And I’m thinking about my mama and the misogynistic treatment she endured in the workplace. And I’m thinking about how a kid at school told me I was “just a girl” and so what I thought didn’t matter. And I’m thinking about a young friend who recently told me she’d had a similar experience. Now. In 2016.
But mostly, I’m thinking about how a woman is about to become a major party’s candidate for president of the United States. In some ways, it doesn’t seem like a huge deal – she got the most votes. She’s mega-qualified. Cool.
Except it is a big deal. It’s a huge deal. Because think of all the girls who now get to grow up thinking it’s not a big deal. Of course a woman can be president. It would be silly to think otherwise!
I’m proud. I’m sad it’s taken this long. I can’t believe half the human race is still treated like less-than. I’m glad we’re shifting, slowly but surely, to full-fledged people.