Women, Equality, and Discrimination
June brings the start of the yearlong centennial celebration of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote.
I find myself reflecting on the ideology and people who advanced women’s equality and those who affected the development of my personal beliefs.
I’m grateful to have been raised by an incredibly strong mother draped in grace and Southern charm and a father who supported her every endeavor. My childhood was immersed in lessons of timeless principles, and I became a “conscience conservative” at a very young age.
Other than the poignant newsletters from Phyllis Schlafly that my mom would share and the columns of James Kilpatrick and Walter Williams that my father would enthusiastically rip from the newspaper and give to me, I didn’t read much about the intellectual underpinnings of conservative thought.
Rather, my Christian upbringing caused me to understand the hope and opportunity that freedom provides to every man, woman, and child, regardless of skin color, age, or gender. Belief in the infinite value and limitless potential of every human life — including the preborn, the elderly, and the infirm — was as natural to me as the need to breathe. The fact that God sees all people as equal has always been obvious, as is the right of human beings to live as free people.
I attended a small college, then known as Troy State, where I was introduced to the magnificent writings of Russell Kirk, M. Stanton Evans, and Max Rafferty (the latter two also taught there.)
The intellectual underpinnings of the modern American conservative movement struck a chord deep within me. I was smitten. It was riveting to discover, contrary to what the media still proclaims, that it was the principles and leaders of conservative thought that formed the foundation for giving women equality under the law.
From Susan B. Anthony, who recognized that all human beings are created equal regardless of age, race, or gender, to Ronald Reagan, who appointed the nation’s first female U.S. Supreme Court justice and first female UN ambassador, conservatives and the Republican Party have led the way in advancing women.
Today, President Trump continues to advance capable women, appointing them to high positions and relying on others as his closest advisers (Kellyanne Conway, Mercedes Schlapp, Brooke Rollins, Ivanka Trump, and Sarah Sanders, to name just a few).
The laws of our nation guarantee equal pay and equal work, and women currently enjoy every protection and advantage under the law as do men. Yes, discrimination of women still exists. Although laws create the legal protections and offer remedies when we are harmed, laws do not change the human heart.
When the condition of the human heart causes people to treat us wrongly, Christianity requires that we respond with truth in a spirit of love, even while we allow God to work on our own hearts in places where we are blind or weak.
There is still often a tendency in business and politics to choose money and power and even maleness over commitment, experience, and dedication to our cause. And the sadness of that reality sometimes disappoints me in very personal ways.
Oftentimes when women are pitted against successful men, we are told — despite our age, experience, accomplishments, and vision — that we still have much to learn, as if our male competitors have nothing to learn themselves. It’s an unintentional slap by most, but it still stings.
Women are not immune from discriminating against other women, either. Yes, there will always be female schemers and “back stabbers” in the ranks of liberal and conservative circles.
But the girlfriends in the conservative movement who truly love each other, support each other’s dreams, and watch each other’s backs far outnumber the professional maneuverers and manipulators.
Until humankind reaches perfection (never, in other words), men and women will hold some sort of discriminatory thoughts toward someone else at some point.
This is faulty human nature; this is sin.
It is God’s nature that commands us to keep fighting for His justice, practice His forgiveness, and to tell the truth, but always do all of the above in a spirit of love. God created all humans in His image, equal to each other. It’s our duty to continue on the path to fully believing that and doing all we can to reflect that reality in our own lives and culture.
Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at [email protected]