Aren’t you scared?
Scared of what? Scared of dropping the bike or of someone attacking me? Either way, both could happen regardless of my gender. I’ve done a lot of challenging things in my life. And you know what? Very few of them have been limited by my physical strength or anything related to a biological limitation associated with my gender. But you know what has limited me? Societal norms and expectations of what I’m supposed to, or allowed to, do.
Ever since stopping in Seneca Falls, NY to visit the Women’s Rights National Historical Park after leaving Lake George, I’ve been mulling over how I would write about the experience. Given that Title IX is hitting its 50th anniversary this week, it’s fitting to highlight what still had to be legally addressed when it was passed into law in 1972, 124 years after the historic meeting at Seneca Falls in 1848.
On July 19-20, 1848, one hundred women and men, assembled in the Wesleyan Chapel, the very site of this National Historical Park, and held a convention where they signed to support the Declaration of Sentiments. The Declaration was modeled after the Declaration of Independence and reiterated that BOTH genders are endowed with unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It outlined 16 facts that illustrated the oppression of these rights by the government and the patriarchal society, such as inability to participate in government through voting or representation, lack of property rights in marriage, inequality in divorce law, inequality in education and employment opportunities, etc.
Title IX, Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, June 23, 1972
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
It’s amazing to think that this assembly and highlighting of inequalities between the sexes happened over 170 years ago, when it had just been during my military career that significant strides in women’s military service had been made. It’s only been since my original enlistment in 1989 that women have been allowed to serve on combat ships, aircraft, and finally, in all combat units and military occupational specialties. Yet, despite all these advances, the Army uniform for the most formal of military functions still does not have a pant option.
Yep, you read that correctly.
In 2022, females who now pilot combat aircraft, command infantry units, graduate Ranger school, get assigned to special operations units, or most importantly, deploy to combat zones and die for their country, must wear a long skirt for formal events that call for the mess dress uniform. Oh, or they have the option to wear civilian attire if they don’t like the long skirt option.
But, it’s just a fashion choice, no big deal, right?
As the women and men who gathered in Seneca Falls, NY back in 1848 realized, it’s all a big deal.
Taking a cross country motorcycle trip as a woman in the United States in 2022 is no big deal, but being prohibited from wearing pants in uniform at a formal military function as a female warrior in today’s Army in 2022, from my perspective, IS a big deal.
No matter how this post made you feel, I do hope that it prompts you to take a closer look at the obstacles faced in the pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by you or the women in your life. Not just the laws and regulations that may be creating obstacles, but the societal norms and expectations that may be keeping women from living their best, authentic lives.
Now, time for me to throw a leg over the bike and scoot on down the road. Maybe a girl or woman will see me and get a wild hair to color outside the lines too!
SIDE NOTE: I did a post with the same title, based off a song written by Gwen Stephanie and performed by No Doubt, back in 2014 on an old blog about being a girl riding a motorcycle in “today’s world”. You can read it HERE if interested 🙂