The Overthrow of Roe c. Wade shook the foundations of our country and there are more shakes to come.
Roe was monumental and it was the result of the 20ewomen’s liberation movement of the last century.
The many significant changes of the women’s liberation movement are not woven into our national narrative (I have yet to see a public park named for the women’s liberation movement) because the history of the women’s liberation movement n has never been properly taught in public school textbooks. or study program.
My generation bridged two Americas: before and after Roe. A life of constraint against a life of freedom.
Life was very different before Roe.
Who remembers young women being told that they couldn’t be admitted to a university because the admissions department arbitrarily decided that there were enough women enrolled?
Who remembers that female university students were regularly ridiculed by men for taking up space? Male students were blatantly critical of female students because it was generally thought that a female’s place in the student body precluded a worthy male from attending. It was assumed that a woman was in college just to find a husband. Freezing atmosphere, indeed.
Who knows that the first version of intersectionality was written by the Combahee River Collective or the first book on women’s health care was self-published in newsprint by feminist women who called themselves The Boston Women’s Health BookCollective?
I was eleven years old in 1973 and I was changed by the women’s liberation movement: I knew that I had the right to self-determination. I knew I could plan my life and decide when I wanted to start a family. I felt like I belonged in the world that previous generations of women didn’t have.
And today, that sense of self-determination includes trans and non-binary people.
I recently traveled to the University of Pennsylvania on a college tour for my teenage daughter. Much to my delight, I came across Jenny Holzer’s “125 Years” permanent art installation honoring the women of Penn. Chiseled into the granite pews and curbs, words rose and fell like waves telling the diverse stories of the women’s experiences at Penn. Here is one from Sally Schwartz Friedman
“I have fond memories of being a woman. One of the most vivid: Houston Hall, The Student Union no doubt for all, where a huge room was reserved for men only! I remember standing wistfully at the door of this room listening to someone play the piano and never wondering why I couldn’t come in. How weird now and how wonderful that when my daughter came to Penn in 1982 such rules strange did not exist.
The women’s liberation movement and the laws it helped create created new ground for Americans.
Our liberty and freedom are more than just carved in stone, they are innate.
Teaching the details of the women’s liberation movement in our schools is essential for a free society.
Six Supreme Court justices overturned Roe. Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. was one and, interestingly, he was a member of Concerned Alumni of Princeton, shortly after graduating in 1972; a year before Roe v. Wade is decided.
Concerned alumni of Princeton members complained about the admission of women to Princeton (they were admitted in 1969) and they published a magazine which, according to the New York Times “consistently accused the administration of having a permissive approach to student life, promoting birth control, and paying for abortions.
We live in deeply troubled times, but to be sure, I know we will overcome today’s problems because we have the successes of the women’s liberation movement behind our backs and the result will be as monumental as Roe v. Wade himself.
Jennifer Hall Lee is a member of the Pasadena Unified School District Board and speaks only for herself. She is co-creator of the Women’s History Month Assembly within the PUSD. She lives in Altadena.