You might have seen a lot of celebrations recently about women gaining the right to vote 100 years ago. You've probably also seen news about the Equal Rights Amendment or even seen women standing outside the Utah Capitol dressed in 1800s garb with green and purple sashes with the words, "Votes for Women" across their chests. If you've missed all of this, here's a bit of history that's relevant today:
Suffragettes were the militants of their day (early 20th century) who fought for the right to vote in public elections. They were most visible in first-world countries because they had the best media coverage of their marches, heckling, hunger strikes and civil disobedience. Women were brutalized by police and arrested for organizing and then held hunger strikes in prison. It was an ugly time for women and the men who loved them, and after decades of protests and perseverance, Congress ratified the 19th amendment in 1920 giving women the right to vote. Huzzah! Utah has a different legacy, though. Women in the Utah Territory were first granted the right to vote in 1870, one year after Wyoming women received the same right. That lasted until 1887 when women were disenfranchised yet again until 1920.
Now, Utah women are rising up in hopes to change the Constitution to say that women are guaranteed equal rights regardless of sex (the Constitution's wording only uses the male pronoun). That battle started in the 1970s and according to recent polls, more than 70% of Utah women want the amendment ratified. This voting battle is happening all around our country now, so pay attention, people. Elect representatives who support the ERA!
When I started my career in real estate, women had only recently been able to buy a home without a husband as a co-signer or get a credit card in their own name. Federal Fair Housing laws were passed in 1975 that struck down sex discrimination in lending and home buying, but even into the 1980s, it was still hard for women to get loans. And God forbid, if two women wanted to buy a home together? Most lenders could barely stand the thought of loaning to lesbians or even to a mother and daughter. They had to grant loans to women by law, but many files got pushed to the bottom of the stack. I had one client back then who was lesbian, Black and unmarried, who the lender put through the ringer. Her home loan finally was approved, but it seemed like it took 10 times longer than other clients I was working with (male or female). Through the feminist movement in the 1970s and the wave of vocal advocates for women's rights, we can buy homes and get credit on our own today.