WOMAN'S SUFFRAGE AND ABOLITION MOVEMENT

TIMELINE

1980-1995

August 1981
Sandra Day O'Connor becomes first woman justice of the Supreme Court.

August 1981
Gallop poll shows 63% of Americans favor ratification of Equal Rights Amendment, but does not predict ratification because of great opposition in South, Midwest, among Republicans, and older Americans.

November 1981
National Organization for Women (NOW) organizes series of rallies in support of ERA with former first ladies Betty Ford and Lady Bird Johnson leading the notables.

18 January 1982
Former Presidents Carter and Ford issue a joint call for ratification of ERA.

January-May 1982
Georgia, Oklahoma, Virginia, Illinois, Florida, Utah, North Carolina all reject ratification.

30 June 1982
ERA extension comes to a close; ERA dies.

6 September 1991
At their annual Tailhook Convention on the third floor of a Las Vegas hotel a group of drunken, abusive Navy pilots form a gauntlet in a hallway where they force 83 females (some officers) to pass, mauling, fondling, stripping off the women's clothes, and assaulting them.

Thirty-year-old Lt. Paula Couglin takes on the Navy by filing a complaint over her treatment at Tailhook.

Tailhook scandal exposes cultural and generation gap between old-guard Navy admirals who say "what's the big deal?" and are convinced that any women who were sexually assaulted must have "welcomed it."

October 1991
Americans sit riveted to televised Senate Judicial Committee hearings of Conservative Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas; he is accused of sexual harassment by University of Oklahoma law professor and former employee Anita Hill.

The focus of the hearing quickly shifts from qualifications of Clarence Thomas to the ruthless, misogynist interrogation style of the all-male Judiciary Committee who appear oblivious to the very real issue of sexual abuse in the workplace as they go to extremes to belittle and discridit Anita Hill's testimony.

For three days the country focuses on nothing else; soon the phrase "They just don't get it!" becomes popular short-hand to describe the Senate's attitudes.

Political scientist at Oregon State University, James Foster believes Hill-Thomas hearing is a pivotal event in American history:

"I saw a group of pampered privileged white men closing ranks against a black woman. The hearings took on a symbolic significance for issues of race and gender that cut to the heart of American society."

Fallout over the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings includes the following:

August 1992
Republican Nomination Convention in Houston spews forth particularly hostile rhetoric against women.

Pat Robertson, head of the Christian Coalition, lashes out at Iowa's proposed state ERA during keynote speech. He says feminism "encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians."

Reporting on the convention, columnist Molly Ivins writes "...the Republicans spent much of their time peddling fear and loathing, but it was more silly than scary, like watching people dressed in bad Halloween werewolf costumes...Many people did not care for Pat Buchanan's speech; it probably sounded better in the original German."

November 1992
Many women, unhappy with the Republicans' public attitudes toward women, treatment of Anita Hill, and the Bush Administration's dismal record on woman's issues, decide to vote a gender line; this election is touted as "The Year of the Woman."

The election results:

January 1993
Despite election gains, women are still in monority in government:

President Clinton appoints three women cabinet members: Janet Reno, Donna Shalala, Hazel O'Leary and Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg.

February 1993
New Senator Carol Moseley-Braun (D-IL) rattles Senate colleagues by demanding that they not renew design patent for United Daughters of the Confederate whose logo incorporates the Confederate flag. Moseley-Braun argues the federal government should not sanction such a flagrant symbol of slavery.

19 August 1993
Columbus (Ohio) Police Chief James Jackson denies charges he is sexist and says his career has been dedicated to advancement of women and minorities; the misunderstanding arose from his remarks 20 April at the A.M.E. Chuech at 639 E. Long Street when Jackson said:

"....Ladies....I know...about women's lib, but the Bible still says, and it always has, that the man is head of the household, and you are his helpmate. You don't lead him, you follow. You don't want to do that, then get out of the way. You know, God says for the sake of our children we must have these priorities."

8 February 1994
Navy Judge Captain William Vest throws out remaining charges against 3 Navy fliers accused in Tailhook scandal ruling that the top officer in charge (Admiral Frank B. Kelso) witnessed the drunken debauchery at Tailhook, lied about his knowledge of it, and manipulated the initial investigation such that the evidence was not reliable.

Two years after Tailhook where 83 women were molested by 140 Navy officers, not one of the 140 was ever court-martialed; only 50 were ever given any kind of administrative discipline; the message: "Tailhook 91 -- They got away with it!"

"This is outrageous!" states Karen Johnson, national secretary of NOW and retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel.

16 February 1994
After a 37 year career, Admiral Frank B. Kelso retires "early" because of Tailhook:

"This issue.... won't go away. The lightening keeps striking all the time so I think it's best for the Navy to give it another leader."

Not appeased by this retirement, Rep. Patricia A. Schroeder (D-CO) leads 14 other Congresswomen in signing a letter to House Armed Services Committee Chairman demanding "immediate review and action" of Navy's Tailhook investigation. She writes

"This investigation of Tailhook has been mishandled from its tawdry beginning to today's embarrassing finale with Defense Secretary William Perry defending chief of naval operations Frank Kelso."

26 August 1994
Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch article marking the 74th Anniversary of Woman's Suffrage states: "trends in voting show a widening gender gap and a rise in women who vote" however, some groups do not vote:

These women feel disaffected, say voting "is a waste of time...an exercise in futility"; do not believe they can accomplish anything through the political process.

November 1994
Republican Party's "contract with America" scores big in the election; this election is touted as "Year of Angry White Males"; large gender gap appears in voting patterns:

November 1994
Nancy Putnam Hollister (R-Marietta) becomes first woman elected Lieutenant Governor of Ohio.

16 March 1995
Mississippi finally ratifies 13th Amendment. In years following the Civil War, state lawmakers were angry that Mississippians had not been reimbursed for the value of freed slaves.

26 August 1995
Seventy-fifth Anniversary of Women's Suffrage celebrated nationally!

-------------------------------------------------

The 19th Amendment:

"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

NEXT: WHY DID IT TAKE SO LONG......?


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