Today is the 89th birthday of the American woman's right to vote. 89 years, and still, you have to wonder, what took so long? It is 2009, right? We are in the twenty-first century, so the calendar says. So how come Richard Engel of NBC News still has to report on women in Afghanistan who are in prison because they left violently abusive husbands, were shunned because they were raped, are in prison just because they are women? It is a matter of law that a wife cannot refuse sex to her husband on pain of imprisonment and that every 27 minutes (!) an Afghan woman dies in childbirth!!!! The report showed a nursery as part of the prison where the women can play with their children from time to time. Looking at the young, beautiful faces of these boys and girls it takes little imagination to fast forward 15 or 20 years and see those little girls as wife-slaves to men who were once beautiful little boys, beloved by their mothers. When will those toddlers be taught that women are worth so much less than men? When will those beautiful little girls learn that the boys they once played with in a prison nursery have the right to abuse, rape, shun and violate them?
How do we reconcile these images, these stories that we encounter day after day in so many places in this world with what we know to be right and what to be wrong? How is it possible that people can continue to treat each other with such barbarity?
Over the last several years polite people find it acceptable to downplay the revolution in the Western world of women's rights. Yes, some of the warriors were shrill, irritating, un-ladylike. Some were extreme and made us uncomfortable. But, look what they have accomplished: educated, intelligent women who are able to speak up for themselves and for thier children and state the obvious: we are all created equal.
What's taking so long?