Monday marked the 100th birthday of Girl Scouts. What an incredible accomplishment for a superior organization. All month, I've been thinking about how far we've come.
In 1912, women weren't allowed to vote in any but five states. That right didn't come for another eight long years. (Comparatively, eight years is long enough to birth a child who grows old enough to complain how uncool his parents are.)
In 1912, women were considered the property of men and relied on fathers and husbands to survive. Employment, if any, was domestic: cooks and servants. Social classes were paramount. The movie Titanic was staged in 1912, lest we forget the scene where the poor Irish mother quietly rocked her two babies to death.
At the same time that Juliette Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scout meeting, Congress was holding hearings into the 10-week strike of 25,000 textile workers in Lawrence, MA. The strike that started in January that year crippled a $45 million New England textile industry.
According to the Lucy Parsons Project, nearly half of all the workers on strike were teenage girls. The strike was to improve factory conditions that caused 36 percent of the workers to die by age 25.
Clearly, we have come a long way since then. General working conditions, child labor laws, employment opportunities and unionization have all improved. In some ways, not so much.
Women warehouse workers, for example, still face many inequalities and sexual harassment, according to a from the South Suburban Move On Council.
And still, women are making 80 cents to the men's dollar, so says the U.S. Department of Labor. In fact, the past 20 years have only seen a five-cent fluctuation — no real improvement.
After a century, the women of 2012 hold only 17 percent of the Congressional seats and 23 percent of the statewide elective executive offices, according to the Center for American Women in Politics.
After 100 years, the swine-like a "slut" and a "prostitute" for her opinions on insurance coverage of birth control.
Then last week, I heard a judge begin a hearing about unpaid rent by asking the young female tenant how many children she had, and by how many different fathers.
Wiser minds than me advised not to read anything into that line of questioning; the judge could have been trying to see if she were squandering child support instead of paying rent, my friend said.
Perhaps. But I think that's crap. His "Honor" didn't ask about her employment, debts, or income. He asked only who she was sleeping with. My bet is that judge listens to Rush Limbaugh.
The Girl Scout Law pledges honesty, fairness, responsibility, courage, self-respect and consideration. It is a great organization that I hope lasts another hundred years.
Perhaps by then, women will have achieved 50 percent representation in government and 90 percent pay.