Ruta Sevo: Make women’s history-Occupy the voting booth

Women won the right to vote nearly 100 years ago, yet only about half of millennials (those born between 1980 and 1995) voted in the last presidential election. If all millennial women voted in 2012, they could make a difference.

Much is at stake. The birth-control pill came into widespread use in the 1960s and dramatically changed the lives of women for the better. Now, still, half a century later, male politicians and legislators want to restrict access to birth control, sending us back to darker ages: constant fear of pregnancy, shameful and deadly sexually transmitted disease, increased need for abortions, and, generally. second-class citizenship.

Viagra for men is freely available while women’s sexuality is to be controlled and discouraged.

Ninety-nine percent of American women have used birth control. Ninety-eight percent of Catholic women have used birth control, despite of the disapproval of the Catholic Church. Will you let this right to sexuality and ability to plan families be taken away?

This is not the only issue at stake for women. There is fair pay. Even one year out of college, women with equivalent qualifications earn less than men, and the gap widens thereafter. Flexible student loans and Pell grants for college. Health coverage for young adults up to age 26 on their parents’ plan. Gay rights in the military, in child adoption and marriage. Paid sick leave for full-time employees.

As we grow up we realize we are living in a shared house with a lot of rules, big and little. There are rules about barking dogs, how clean the kitchen needs to be if you feed others, disposal of garbage. Someone decides whether guns and Viagra should be easy to get, and whether to make it hard to get birth control. They decide that alcohol is OK with minor restrictions, but marijuana is scary. They set speed limits, offer or do not offer financial aid for college, define clean water and require licenses for business.

If you have traveled to a poor country, you may have seen a crew out on the streets picking up bodies of beggars who died in the night. There are no speed limits and traffic is a jumble of animals, scooters, bikes and black-fuming trucks. Someone can rob you in the street with no consequences, because there are either no police or ineffective police. Someone can take your money by lying or kidnapping. Restaurants are not inspected. There is no safety net for the old and sick, and those who have no family may have to survive by begging or selling vegetables on the sidewalk.

We make our world by electing our rule-makers, aka legislators. Once elected, they decide whether to fund education or give tax breaks to the rich. They can choose to regulate banks so that people are not given bad loans that lead to foreclosure. They can say they are choosing “small government” and “personal liberty,” and yet find the resources to inspect every social service that provides health counseling to women, and to control women’s services out of existence. They may at the same time require only token checks on the purchase of guns. Basically, they decide what needs a rule, and what needs to be controlled.

We will not get rid of government in our shared house because most of us agree that we need to protect health, provide security and maintain order. But we can choose what kind of government we get: one that is kind to the unfortunate and tries for fairness, or one that considers the poor to be deficient and unworthy. One that gives people with disabilities a chance to develop to their best potential, or one that abandons their promise, not believing in it. One that tries to maximize the potential of all students, or one that lets the rich get richer, filling the best schools. One that gives women a fair chance for equality in the pursuit of happiness.

Your right and privilege is less than 100 years old. Occupy the voting booth, and get your family and friends to do the same. Register to vote, pay attention to the date and hours of the election, read about the candidates and the values they represent, and vote in the 2012 elections. Then you will be heard.

Ruta Sevo is an independent consultant and a member of the American Association of University Women.

uva basketball team of destiny

Team of Destiny: Inside UVA Basketball's improbable run

Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.


Augusta Free Press content is available for free, as it has been since 2002, save for a disastrous one-month experiment at putting some content behind a pay wall back in 2009. (We won’t ever try that again. Almost killed us!) That said, it’s free to read, but it still costs us money to produce. The site is updated several times a day, every day, 365 days a year, 366 days on the leap year. (Stuff still happens on Christmas Day, is what we’re saying there.) AFP does well in drawing advertisers, but who couldn’t use an additional source of revenue? From time to time, readers ask us how they can support us, and we usually say, keep reading. Now we’re saying, you can drop us a few bucks, if you’re so inclined.


augusta free press
augusta free press
augusta free press news