There used to be an ad for Virginia Slims cigarettes when I was growing up. Its tag line was, “You’ve come a long way, baby.” And there was always an sepia tone photo of a Victorian woman trying to hide the fact that she was smoking a cigarette, while in color there was some young, modern woman with a big wide smile, smoking.
The irony of the cigarette and the “baby” aside, by that time women had come far. We’d been able to see ourselves in unexpected places through women like Shirley Chisolm, Fannie Lou Hamer, Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Audre Lorde, Indira Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto, Cherríe Moraga, and Gloria Anzaldúa. And our reproductive rights seemed to be almost certain–at least in certain states. But these days, there is backpedaling and surprisingly more and more debate around contraception and abortion rights. There is progress too, but just not as much as was anticipated at this hour. In some ways it seems we are still fighting for our rights to our own path, to our own bodies, just like our grandmothers did. All over the world.
In March Celebrate: Women’s History Month, Irish American Heritage Month, South Africa: Human Rights Day (March 21st), Bangladeshi Independence Day (March 26th), Cesar Chavez Day (March 31st)