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Why did I not know that?

Like many people, I have been unaware of the complete history of women and their struggle(s) for rights in this country. I know we won the right to vote in 1920 but I did not know that “on November 2, more than right million American women voted for the first time� (Manifesta Timeline). It still shocks me that for hundreds of years women were living in this country, contributing what they were allowed to contribute but were still not seen as first-class citizens. According to the Manifesta timeline, “in 1860 – New York’s Married Woman’s Property Act gives wives the same right to own property that is enjoyed by their husbands, and gives women the right to joint custody of their children�. Women were not allowed the custody of their children? How did the government think children were born? Did the father pick them up at the butcher shop?

After being in this class and reading these excerpts, I wonder why I did not know this information before. I have taken your average World History and American History courses but feminism and the movement for equal rights for women was rarely, if ever, mentioned. There was maybe a section saying how we “were given the right to vote� but no real description of how long women fought to get to that point. Also, I have never read much in my history books about the women’s movement in the 1960s – 1970s and in some aspects that is just as important because it is closer to our generation. Did you know that because she was “appalled by the lack of sex toys and the number of female clients who don’t have orgasms, sex therapist Joani Blank opened Good Vibrations in San Francisco� in 1977? Probably not because the people who write our history books did not want us to know that women are just as sexually curious as men and we also have needs that need to be fulfilled. The only way to get this information out there is to have different sources and people write our books. If we have the same authors, we will learn the same information and learn nothing new. Apart from books, our beliefs of women’s rights are also constructed by our public/private school system and the media. I learned about safe sex in school and how abstinence is “the best choice� but I did not learn about sexual health, especially for women. Furthermore, films show men “pleasuring themselves� and it is usually seen as a joke and part of growing up (i.e. “American Pie� and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High�) but for women, that topic is rarely addressed. Why?

I am very proud of the women who have come before me and I know I would not have the rights that I have today if it weren’t for them. I just hope that my generation can take it another step further: improve sex education and discuss sexual health freely with our friends and future children and not have it be “wrong�.