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American Association of University Women honors Lodi rights pioneer

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Laura DeForce Gordon

Posted: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:58 am, Tue Oct 11, 2011.

The melody of “Amazing Grace” echoed softly across Harmony Grove Church’s cemetery as the rain began to lightly spatter across the gravel and gravestones Monday morning.

Led by Pat Stump, co-president of the American Association of University Women, 20 women with umbrellas, picket signs and yellow flowers in hand marched two by two towards the graves.

Like their ancestors before them, the women of AAUW would march in honor of their right to vote, rain or shine.

No words were spoken as each member of the AAUW approached a grave marked by two vases of flowers, a flash of color in an otherwise wet, gray graveyard.

Ruthie Right leaned over and patted the top of the tombstone of one of California’s pioneer suffragettes, Laura DeForce Gordon.

Gordon, a Lodi resident in the early 1900s, has become somewhat of a historical icon for Lodi AAUW members.

At her gravesite Monday, 15 women read off facts about Gordon, who during her lifetime paved the way for women to be able to vote, practice law and even become reporters.

Among her various accomplishments, Gordon was the first female lawyer in California and the first woman in the state to run a daily newspaper — The Stockton Daily Leader.

In conjunction with celebrating Gordon’s life work, AAUW members celebrated the vote for women’s right to vote, which took place 100 years ago Monday.

On Oct. 10, 1911, men across the state of California took to the voting booths to vote for or against their wives’, sisters’ and mothers’ ability to vote.

California was the sixth state to pass women’s suffrage, ahead of states famous for the suffrage movement like New York and Illinois.

Lodi AAUW member Suga Ann Moriwaki said women like Gordon led the charge in having the nation accept a new era of equality.

Moriwaki added that by allowing women to vote, a new type of diversity was brought to the voting booths, despite the fact that many men at the time did not think women’s ideas or beliefs were entirely credible.

Once the dedication ceremony at Gordon’s grave was completed, the group of women picked up their signs and marched together back out of the cemetery, some humming along to the tune “Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be?”

Gathering under a tree to shelter themselves from the rain and sip some coffee, AAUW members said even though they were glad to celebrate 100 years of voting rights, equality between men and women still had a ways to go.

Pay equity, for example, was an issue many of the women at Monday’s event said still needed to be resolved.

AAUW member Sally Spenker said inequality in pay has been allowed to be passed down through generations and that even though women have fought against it, it is a problem that is still prevalent in today’s society.

“We have made some progress,” she said. “But we need to make more strides in the right direction.”

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  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 8:13 pm on Tue, Oct 11, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    AAUW member Sally Spenker said inequality in pay has been allowed to be passed down through generations and that even though women have fought against it, it is a problem that is still prevalent in today’s society...

    Teachers, government employee, unions, businesss women (Oprah), and many other occupations are equal pay when comparing jobs. For example, high school English teacher gets exact same pay no matter male or female.

  • Jerry Boggs posted at 6:34 am on Tue, Oct 11, 2011.

    MaleMatters Posts: 1

    Re: "Pay equity, for example, was an issue many of the women at Monday’s event said still needed to be resolved."

    It won't be resolved until pay-equity advocates consider:

    No legislation to date has closed the gender wage gap — not the 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, not Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, not the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, not the 1991 amendments to Title VII, not affirmative action (which has benefited mostly white women, the group most vocal about the wage gap), not diversity, not the countless state and local laws and regulations, not the horde of overseers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, not the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.... Nor will a "paycheck fairness" law work.

    That's because pay-equity advocates, at no small cost to taxpayers and the economy, continue to overlook the effects of female AND male behavior:

    Despite the 40-year-old demand for women's equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of "The Secrets of Happily Married Women," stay-at-home wives, including the childless who represent an estimated 10 percent, constitute a growing niche. "In the past few years,” he says in a CNN report at http://tinyurl.com/6reowj, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.” (“Census Bureau data show that 5.6 million mothers stayed home with their children in 2005, about 1.2 million more than did so a decade earlier....” at http://tinyurl.com/qqkaka. If indeed more women are staying at home, perhaps it's because feminists and the media have told women for years that female workers are paid less than men in the same jobs — so why bother working if they're going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman.)

    As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Because they're supported by their husband, an “employer” who pays them to stay at home.

    Both feminists and the media ignore what this obviously implies: If millions of wives are able to accept no wages and live as well as their husbands, millions of other wives are able to accept low wages, refuse overtime and promotions, work part-time instead of full-time (“According to a 2009 UK study for the Centre for Policy Studies, only 12 percent of the 4,690 women surveyed wanted to work full time.” http://bit.ly/ihc0tl), take more unpaid days off, avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (http://tinyurl.com/45ecy7p) — all of which lower women's average pay. Women are able to make these choices because they are supported or anticipate being supported by a husband who must earn more than if he'd chosen never to marry. (Still, even many men who shun marriage, unlike women, feel their self worth is tied to their net worth.) This is how MEN help create the wage gap. If the roles were reversed so that men raised the children and women raised the income, men would average lower pay than women.

    See “A Response to the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act” at http://tinyurl.com/pvbrcu



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