When this country was created, women were not equal citizens. Even now, one hundred years after receiving the right to vote, this gap in rights and autonomy exists. So here are three reminders of how desperately your vote is needed, and what to do the day after tomorrow.
Ownership. The right to own and control property is powerful, a fact that has long been recognized by those seeking to retain power for themselves at the expense of others. It was not until the twentieth century that married women were allowed to keep their own wages. We still see the legacy of these laws, with women and people of color continuing to be hugely behind in terms of wealth. And we see it in the discrimination these same groups have in the financial services industry, where women find it twice as hard as men to raise capital.
Working Capital. And speaking of capital, access to capital may be the second most powerful force after ownership. If you do not own it outright, you can at least borrow the capital to put it to good use for your business. It still blows my mind to think that it was not until the 1970s that women were able to get credit cards, and it was only in 1988 that all states were required to allow women to obtain loans without a male co-signer. 1988! We saw this dynamic play out with the PPP, where female-founded businesses received smaller loan checks.
Equal Rights. Even today, there is no guarantee in the Constitution that women in the United States be treated equally. The provision often cited in support of women's rights is the Fourteenth Amendment, which requires states to provide their citizens equal protection under the laws. This provision, however, was never intended to apply to women. At the time the Fourteenth Amendment was passed, women still did not have the right to vote. So long as there are “originalists” on the Courts, who choose to base certain rulings on their interpretation of the founders’ original intent, women’s rights will always be in jeopardy. Note that the founders certainly never intended women to be on the courts, so let’s call it convenient originalism. You can consider this a pitch both for the Equal Rights Amendment and Hulu’s Mrs. America.
Not everything is decided by an election. Regardless of what happens tomorrow (or whenever the results are confirmed), we each have the power to make change for the better. It is that power and that possibility that will continue to exist, and will continue to drive us, the day after tomorrow and every day after that.--Jessie Gabriel