In “The Future of Women on Earth May Be Darker Than You Thought” Annalee Newitz, editor in chief of io9.com, asks whether it is possible for women to lose it all again.
What I find interesting is that women have had these freedoms for such an incredibly short time. considering that humans have been creating systems of government for thousands of years, women’s suffrage is like a blink of an eye. In the United States, where I live, women couldn’t vote a century ago.That’s a thought that has struck me repeatedly this semester as we read through the authors in Available Means. The not-so-distant past was a radically different time for women. And the paucity of female rhetors for the majority of recorded history is undeniable. What proof do we have that the direction in which we are heading will remain stable?
In The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood offers a dystopian vision of the future in which women's rights have been taken away, at least in one country. The key to that was the discontinuation of paper money, allowing the totalitarian government to take away women's means to financial independence instantaneously through electronic means. I have an ebook reader. How hard would it be for all the books written by women to disappear from it? Or to have all the names of women authors changed to men?
[H]as my life been an historical exception rather than part of a major social change? It seems like these exceptions are the norm in women's history — all our stories of great women are about people who bucked the system and rose up for a time despite their centuries' versions of GamerGate [link added].
Newitz doesn't necessarily expect that women will have a darker future, but the thought is an interesting one. Especially when we have seen, again and again, the exceptional exception be the only woman mentioned in many periods of history, while the majority of women might as well not have existed for all the words written about them. "I worry that we are mistaking our experiences during this tiny historical moment for something bigger, making the classic error of imagining that our lucky lives are blueprints for what everyone else will get tomorrow."
The only way to ensure that the daughters and granddaughters who come after us continue to enjoy the same rights that we have today, or, better yet, more equality than many women experience today, is to make sure that women are not written out of the story again. We have to dig up those exceptional exceptions and provide the foundations upon which to continue building so that the structure cannot be toppled.