I, and many mothers of my generation, thought that when our daughters came of age, they would enter a world of unprecedented equality, with autonomy over their own bodies and life choices, and the guarantee they would be paid according to their value in the workplace, not by virtue of their genitalia. So how does reality stack up to that twenty-year-old belief?
To borrow from a movie title from those early 90s, reality bites. Not only haven’t rights and opportunities for women in this country improved, they are on the decline. The world our daughters are inheriting looks like the one in which our mothers or even our grandmothers came of age. In 2011, the year my daughter graduated from college, state legislatures enacted 83 laws to restrict or even eliminate access to abortions. In the first three months of 2012, 944 bills were introduced in state legislatures related to reproductive health and rights, targeting access to birth control as well as abortions.
Not content to limiting their attacks on women to the female body, several states have moved onto the workplace, with Wisconsin Republicans leading the charge to eviscerate federal statutes, including the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, that require equal pay for equal work.