Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ain't No Place I'd Rather Be

As Christine Stansell writes, women got a constitutional amendment permitting them to vote because of this one guy in Tennessee:
Nine Southern states joined by Delaware forced ratification to a halt, one state short. Only Tennessee was left, and the opposition had good reason to think it would line up with the rest of the region. But after a nine-day special session in the heat of August 1920, a legislator pledged to the nays jumped ship — he later said it was because his mother told him to — and the 36th state was in.
She adds:
Today the country is again divided over how far the rights of citizenship extend. In the controversy over same-sex marriage, the prospect of constitutional protection calls up truculence from one part of the country, approval from another. How remarkable, then, that a parallel conflict — one that similarly exposes the fears and anxieties that the expansion of democracy unleashes — is now largely lost to memory.
No mystery there: Culturally speaking, women's rights are still in the back of the bus. Based purely on what I observed and felt throughout the 2008 primaries, pundits and journalists were far more excited about the historic portent of electing an African-American president compared to electing a woman. By the same token, while we're perpetually fixated on race, we don't focus fully on the shame of gender apartheid that lasted until just 90 years ago nor, therefore, on the means by which it was finally brought to an end.

Race is arithmetic. Gender is algebra. Sexual orientation is calculus.

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