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We’ve come too far to go back — let’s move forward

I saw the documentary “RBG” a few evenings ago at the Varsity Theatre. Much food for thought in this excellent documentary and I feel it’s recommended viewing for all Americans right now. I marched for NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) in the ‘70s as a young woman and thought I was pretty much up to speed on feminist issues (and, yes, I am proud to call myself a feminist if that happens to mean, among others, equal pay for equal work). But I had no idea of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s breadth of accomplishments and how integral her efforts, arguments and victories in her career as an attorney before the Supreme Court has been to my own quality of life as an American woman.

Did you know that until the mid-1970s it was legal for a man in America to rape his wife? Before the Credit Equal Opportunity Act in 1974, American women could not apply for credit. I remember after my parents’ divorce, my own mother telling me — with no small amount of anger and frustration — that even though she had worked full-time during their marriage, she had no credit record of her own to begin her life as a divorced, employed woman with a teenager at home.

Since the early ‘70s, there is much that young women have been able to take for granted. I say “young women” because we were not the earlier wave of feminist warriors who came a few years before us: Shirley Chisholm, Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinem and many, many others who marched and dared to be “strident” in order to change laws that should never have been on the books in the first place.

These are basic rights, after all. One line in “RBG” stands out. It is a quote attributed to 19th-century feminist and abolitionist Sarah Grimké: “I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.”

And now, what do we have looming before us? The specter of a Supreme Court that will be obscenely skewed toward obliterating these rights. How will it feel to live in a country where a woman does not have sovereignty over her own body and reproductive rights? How would men feel if they could not buy condoms or have a vasectomy or support their partner in her choices — without risking prison or infection and possible death from a botched, illegal procedure?

We cannot allow ourselves, men and women, to be complacent. Ashland is not yet affected by the dire consequences of these reactionary policies in the same way other demographics across our land will be and already have been. But I have no doubt that we will all be affected.

Is it not incumbent upon us to embolden our resolve and to become engaged, if we are not already? There is a candidate on the November ballot opposing such reactionary policies that seek to keep the “heel” on women’s necks: Jamie McLeod-Skinner.

If you, like me, believe that women deserve the same basic rights as men in this country, then I encourage you to go to her website and see what she has to say.

She will have my vote. Not because she is a woman. But because she is intelligent, and a far better choice than Greg Walden who, time and time again, has proven his allegiance to those promoting archaic and oppressive views.

The place is here; the time is now. If you put your ear to the ground, you can surely hear the thundering hooves coming in our direction, loud and clear.

Author, TV presenter and world traveler Susanne Severeid is an Ashland resident who enjoys making time for the important things in life — including mocha. For more, go to www.susannesevereid.com. Email her at susannewebsite@olypen.com.

Photo by Beatrice Angela JacobsSusanne Severeid