Over 200 women, and a handful of men, came together at Milliken Auditorium on the NMC Campus in early October, 2017, for a free showing of "Equal Means Equal"--the definitive documentary film on the status of women in America.
The Leelanau League of Women Voters and sponsoring organizations (see below) had tables in the lobby outside of the auditorium that were buzzing with conversations about getting educated about women's issues, and getting informed on how to help with these specific causes. Each group represented their organization's efforts to deal with an essential aspect of some of women's basic human needs like reproductive access, infant care, safety from harm, legal rights, voting rights, education and more.
These were a perfect segue to the film itself which pulled together the following seemingly disparate issues to show their collective, calamitous impact on women's lives. I picked only one each of many gut-wrenching statistics.
Female Poverty -
"Of the 100 million Americans living in poverty, 70% are women and the children who depend on them."
Wage Discrimination -
"Compared to white men, white women working full time, based on median annual full-time earnings, earn 78 cents to every dollar a man earns. African American women make 64 cents, and Latina, 54 cents."
Female Incarceration -
"Up to 90% of the women in jail for killing men had been battered by those men."
Domestic Violence -
"There are more shelters for animals in the United States, than safe havens for battered women. On a single day in September 2014, nearly 10,000 abused women were turned away from shelters or legal resources because of a lack of funds."
Rape and Sexual Assault -
"Rape has gone viral. Young girls sexually attacked are videotaped and their assaults posted online. In some tragic cases, schoolgirls taunted after their ordeals have committed suicide to escape the humiliation."
Foster Care and Child Sex Trafficking -
"... perhaps the individual ultimately responsible for child sex trafficking is the predator known only by the innocuous name of “John.” And these Johns are legion. The most profitable day for pimps to traffic young girls is the Super Bowl. Men pour into the city, where they may not be known, ready to pay for underage sex. An adult man can pay for sex with an underage girl—and she’s the one who may end up in jail. ...In many jurisdictions, Johns simply pay a fine and attend a class to have their records wiped clean."
Reproductive Health Care -
"99% of American women have used contraceptives."
"In the first quarter of 2014, legislators in 38 states introduced 303 provisions seeking to limit
women's access to reproductive health care."
Pregnancy Discrimination -
"Motherhood Penalty: 4% decrease in salary per child."
"Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978, yet pregnant women, especially those in low-wage and physically demanding jobs, are routinely fired or forced off the job."
International Women's Rights -
600,000,000 women live in nations where domestic violence is not a crime. There are 130,000,000 victims of genital mutilation around the world. "Since the United Nations adopted 'the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women' in1979, all but seven of the 193-member states have ratified it. The United States has not.
Through statistics and personal stories, the film "proves that society is a war zone for women." (The Village Voice) "The overwhelming truth of the mistreatment of women must be stopped." (50 year old male.)
"96% of Americans believe men and women are equal and that they should be guaranteed equality in the Constitution. 72% of Americans believe women already have equal rights under the Constitution."
"But they don't. Although parts of the Constitution, for instance the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, may appear to safeguard women against discrimination, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has gone on record insisting this isn’t the case.” He says: "Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t,” he said in the January 2011 issue of California Lawyer. “Nobody ever voted for that.”
Note: the only folks voting in 1868 when the 14th Amendment passed were white men. "Every constitution written since the end of World War II includes a provision that men and women are citizens of equal stature. Ours does not." ~ Ruth Bader Ginsburg
We need the U.S. Constitution to recognize the truth that all people are created equal. To do that,
we need to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.
How can you help? First of all, watch this documentary and share it with as many people as you can. Keep sharing it. Go to www.equalmeansequal.com , push a button on each topic, and get educated on all the issues. The site will direct you further as to how you can keep on helping. Donate. Volunteer. Don't be afraid. Speak up and act. The time is now.
"Our story involves the collaboration of many women and men who believe that equality is the first step towards a more balanced world, a world where women participate fully and equally with men in all aspects of society and bring their distinct and important qualities to bear on creating a more just, humane and sustainable future for the world. “The time is now for women to use their voices and to demand equal rights under the law without equivocation, without apology, and with full knowledge that not only is this the right thing to do, it is what must be done”.
— Kamala Lopez, Director Equal Means Equal
NOTE: This free showing of Equal Means Equal is made possible by contributions from area groups and individual sponsors, including the League of Women Voters Leelanau County, Zonta Club of Traverse City, American Association of University Women of Traverse City, Northwestern Michigan College, Woman2Woman TC, Planned Parenthood, Women’s Resource Center, Northwest Chapter of the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health, Reproductive Access Fund, Traverse Area Women Lawyers Association, League of Women Voters of the Grand Traverse Area and Traverse City Human Rights Commission.