“Women’s Rights are Human Rights”

By Gar Michaels

This piece is in honor of women everywhere in the world on International Women’s Day…

And to my great, intelligent, intuitive, beautiful inside-and-out female friends everywhere…

And to my dear, departed mom, Estelle. Mom, may you rest in peace, wherever you are! You were a real, live saint to me and I love you.

Great women in American History — today is your time as we persevere against the lingering discrimination against women in our modern society.

Let it be known, lest anyone think this is a political candidate stumping speech, that I am an independent and political-party agnostic with regards to the United State presidential race.

In my opinion, gender discrimination has by far outstripped every other form of intolerance in our world. It has been the worst and longest-running form of cultural, socio-politico-psychological and religious discrimination in the history of mankind…womankind…humankind!

I want to acknowledge a few of the incredible, persistent women in our nation’s history along with their efforts, hard work and the backlash they faced in their fight for freedom, women’s equality, women’s rights and their desire to place women on equal footing with men in every aspect of our society. From Lilly Ledbetter and Beyonce chiming in for equal pay for equal performance; to Susan B. Anthony and Coretta Scott King championing for a woman’s right to vote; and of course Eleanor Roosevelt and Shirley Chisholm combatting discrimination in the workplace, it is women like these who have paved and are paving the way forward for their sisters in our society.

We must always be mindful that discrimination against women in the workplace, government, and in our culture continues to rear its ugly head today in modern times.

In the ’60’s and ’70’s, Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Margaret Mead, and Helen Gurley Brown (Cosmopolitan), helped to raise the consciousness significantly in our male-dominated society and it’s chauvinistic myth: “I’m a guy, so I’m better than you, honey!”

And they built on the amazing and tireless social activism and fight for gender parity by the great 20th-century social activist, humanitarian, and former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, with her signature “Never Give Up, Never Give In” attitude, for human rights.

I’d like to take this opportunity to name a few more amazing women in history who are some of my favorite feminists that made a difference in the history and the fight for universal women’s rights:

Harriet Tubman, Julia Ward Howe, Indira Gandhi, Marie Curie, Golda Meir, Anne Frank, Janis Joplin, Helen Keller, Amelia Earhart, Sally Ride, Madeleine Albright, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Emma Goldman, Margaret Sanger, Malala Yousafzai, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Madonna, and last, but not least, Joni Mitchell.

I’d also like to address women in power. Ask any woman who has been on the corporate “fast-track” ladder to success why said “fast-track” got derailed so quickly once she decided to have a family. Ask any corporate Board of Directors how many women have a place at their table. Ask any employee in corporate America, or on Wall Street, or in our banking system, about how many women are on their executive, decision-making teams. Ask any group of CEOs, how many women hold that position at well-known companies. Ask any member of the major religions (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism), what percent of our church and religious leaders are women?

What answers do you think you will hear?

You guessed it. That’s called “The Good Ol’ Boys Club of Corporate America!”– and I would know, I was in it.

Women represent the majority of the United States population at 51%  and, yet, they never even had the right to vote in a United States election until less than 100 years ago — WHOA! The American slaves got the legal right to vote before women did with the 14th Amendment in 1868. Even in the greatest democracy in human history, it took a constitutional 19th amendment, dubbed “The Susan B. Anthony” amendment in 1920 to grant women their suffrage, their right to vote. Unbelievable!

From the beginning women have been blessed with one of the most incredible, important jobs on the planet: Giving birth to children, raising those children and being loving mothers — the very job that promises our continuation of existence as the human race. And yet they have been punished throughout history, repeatedly, solely for being women — they have been punished economically, emotionally, legally and religiously.

The hypocrisy is astounding!

I’d like to share an excerpt that Susan B. Anthony, close friend to President Abraham Lincoln, wrote in her published 1855 journal called The Revolution:

“Where, under our Declaration of Independence, does the white, Saxon man get his power to deprive all women and Negroes of their inalienable rights?”

Good question!

To share an up-close-and-personal perspective and part of my feminist experience as a man, I once ran a company that I started from a scribbling on the back of a napkin and a family loan of $10K that I grew to $1 billion in sales. And I never could have achieved that level of success without my closest confidant and partner: a strong woman that was my wife!

I believe because of man’s genetic, physical power over women, men have been able to control the money, the power and the overall course of history since the beginning of recorded civilization. And neither Church nor State have done very much to alleviate this issue. Furthermore, our leaders in history, by and large, have done the opposite and have actually deliberately and constructively enabled and promulgated this inequality.

I believe women have been systematically discriminated against in every phase of our society and it has been ingrained into every child beginning at birth.

Going back to the time of Adam and Eve (or shall we say Eve and Adam) or the time when our consciousness began, from those beginnings, instead of mankind, how about we change it to HUMANKIND?!

Today we are still, in many sectors of our culture, as backward and discriminatory against women as we were 2,000 years ago at the dawn of Christianity. If you question this, I encourage you to check the statistics as I have.

Truth in Numbers:

Corporate America – Women CEOs are outnumbered by male CEOs 10:1.

Dogmatic Religion/Church – Male church leaders outnumber female church leaders, again, 10:1.

United States Politics & Government – Depending on local, state or federal level, men outnumber women, 7:1 — less than the other sectors, but still largely unequal.

And yet, more women are attending college today than men. But still, women today make, on the average, up to 25% less than men for the same job (and that number only increases for women of color)!

The fact is, bearing children shouldn’t knock you off the ladder of financial or corporate success and equal pay should be every American’s right for same job, male or female. Gender discrimination in the workplace (yes, this is still goin’ on, guys!), should be replaced with an unbiased system based on “meritocracy” similar to sports, regardless of gender, skin color, a parent, etc.

But unfortunately, the good ol’ boys club is still alive and well…

From America’s corporate boardrooms in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago…

To the seat of our bloated, tax-consuming, and burdening federal government in Washington D.C.,…

To the seat of the Catholic church and the Vatican, undeniably one of the wealthiest institutions on the planet, and, thereby, one of the greatest symbols of excessive consumerism, materialism and greed.

Guys, women are cool! Women are unique! Women have a deep desire to be heart…and they need to be heard!

Who cares if you disagree? You are not me. Who made you king of anything? ” — Sara Bareilles

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me!” — Aretha Franklin

“I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire. ‘Cause I am the champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar!” — Katy Perry

Some final thoughts…

When making your choice for the new Leader of the Free World — vote for the one with an ideology and history of…

OPENING UP

ACCEPTANCE

EMBRACING

COLLABORATION

TEAM-BUILDING

INTEGRITY

TOLERANCE

INCLUSION

ADVOCATE FOR AN OPEN SOCIETY

And most importantly…

PEACE

Do the right thing in 2016! Get out and vote for the candidate whom you believe best embodies truth, openness, equality, transparency, integrity and of course, an advocate for women.

Peace, Grace, Love, and Namasgar,

-Gar