Girl Talk: Teen Pregnancy

Gabby Silva shares her thoughts on teen pregnancy:

Latinas have had the highest rate on teen pregnancies since 1995 over all the major ethnicities in the country. Only 80% of teenagers do not receive any type of sexual education before they encounter their first sexual relationship. Lack of sexual education is problematic for Latinas, especially when 51% of Latinas become pregnant before they turn 20.

One out four teenagers that end up pregnant are in between the ages of 15 and 17 and eight out of ten of the teenage fathers do not stay with the mother. The list of disadvantages of being a teenage mom can be long, but it is important when it comes to having sexual relationships teenagers have the accurate information.

Teenagers do not see how drastically a baby can change their lives, especially with how a baby affects their education. Balancing an education and a child is incredibly difficult. Only 38% of teenage moms earn a high school diploma! Having to manage all the homework/study time while taking care of their baby also means less than 2% graduate with a college degree by the time they turn 30. Think it stops with the mom? NOPE! Their kids will also show low performance in school. In fact, 50% of the kids will fail a grade level.

There are serious and negative consequences for having a baby at such a young age, but it does not mean that every teenage mom is doomed to fail. But  having a baby should be a two people’s agreement, and not an accident where teenagers are going to be forced to support the baby.


Pope Francisco: Our First Latino Pope!

Pope-Francis-smilingOur current Pope, Pope Francisco, is the first Latin American Pope to grace the Vatican. Pope Francisco was born Mario Jorge Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, Argentina and worked as a nightclub bouncer before entering the seminary to become a Catholic priest. He then went on to become Archbishop of Buenos Aires, and when his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI resigned in 2014 he was voted into the papacy.

In office since the end of 2014, his election caused great celebration throughout Latin America as they cheered on the beginning of a new era, one in which the head of the Catholic Church and one of the most powerful world leaders, was Latino.

Many Latinos remember the moment they learned that a fellow Latino had been named as Pope. Maribel, 18, of Mexican descent and a devout Catholic, says that she recalls watching on television as Pope’s Francisco’s election was announced. She immediately jumped up cheering and screaming and her whole family gathered around to embrace and celebrate. “It’s not just because he speaks Spanish,” she says. “Latin America needs a Latino Pope who knows the problems in Latin America and how to deal with them.”

Laura, 19, says that she was shopping when she found out via text message, and that she left the store almost immediately to go to her parish Cathedral and give thanks for his election. There she found plenty of other Latinos gathered around praying a Rosary for their new Pope. She says, “I know the Pope is one of the most powerful figures in the world. Having him in office while bring more awareness and attention to our region of the world.”

But while most Hispanics were overjoyed that their new Pope was Argentine, others criticized Pope Francisco as ‘not Latino enough.’ An article published in Huffington Post: Latino Voices, entitled “Is Pope Francis Latino?” suggested that because the Pope’s parents migrated to Argentina from Italy before his birth, he is not Latino.

But why can’t Pope Francisco be Argentine just because his parents were immigrants? Latinos in the United States have heard this argument before, as others sometime criticize them as not ‘real’ Americans if their parents or grandparents came from elsewhere. But truth is, the Pope was born in Latin America, speaks Spanish, and is intimately aware of the culture and issues in the region. Discrimination against him based on the fact that his parents were immigrants takes away from the reality of the situation: Latin America has a Spanish-speaking Pope who was born and raised there and is dedicated to addressing their concerns. Pope Francisco himself has demonstrated his concern for Latin American affairs in his numerous critiques of income inequality in the region, and his urging of their leaders to adapt policies that support workers’ human dignity. He has also worked closely with the impoverished and marginalized peoples of Argentina. The world carefully watches and listens to the words of the Pope, and his repeated speeches and efforts concerning Latin America both revives cultural pride and encourages the rest of the world to heed the needs of the region.

Instagram & Your Self-Esteem

Is Instagram destroying girls’ self-esteem? Instagram, the newest social media to take the world by storm, is nothing but photos, with over 60 million new images uploaded everyday. Its popularity has ushered the era of the “selfie” into a whole new level of perfectionism. Before taking a selfie many girls spend a long time perfecting their hair, makeup and outfit. Then, they take dozens of photos of their own face, experimenting with different angles and lighting until they find an image to their liking. Then, they browse Instagram filters until deciding on the one that best flatters their features.

And those are just the regular girls. The Instagram “pros” as some call them take this art to a whole new level. Many are professional makeup artists who often utilize filters and airbrushing effects from apps outside of Instagram that will perfect skin and features even more. In fact, there are even apps out there that can change anything: eye color, size of eyes or nose, shape of cheekbones. Celebrities like Kylie Jenner are widely suspected of using such techniques to radically change their physical appearance in photos.

The “pros” that aren’t makeup artists are often professional fitness trainers, and they specialize in showing off their bodies. They too use body makeup and filters and the poses and lighting that most flatter their figure. Outside of Instagram most spend hours every day in the gym, and much of the rest of their time planning meals and eating accordingly.

Between the makeup artists and the professional gym rats it’s virtually impossible for a regular girl to emerge from the depths of Instagram feeling secure about her own appearance. After speaking to teenage girls about how Instagram affects their own self-esteem, the negative results are obvious. Most girls log off Instagram feeling discouraged about their own bodies, agonizing over perceived flaws and wondering how to ‘fix’ themselves, so that they can feel as beautiful as the Instagram “pros” with their hoards of fawning fans.

In fact, a study from University of Michigan that collected data about social media users found that those who spent more time browsing the virtual world were less happy than those who limited their exposure to social media. A similar study published in the research journal Cyberpsychology found that women who regularly post photos of themselves online feel the urge to compete for attention based on physical appearance. As a result, lack of ‘likes’ or comments on a photo causes self-esteem to plummet instantly.

“Instagram causes me a lot of anxiety sometimes,” Viridiana, age 15, says. “I’m always comparing myself to other girls wondering why they look so much better than me. Wishing I were more in shape. Or sad that I don’t have enough money to dress cooler.”

Laura, 17, echoes a similar sentiment. “Mostly I just wonder: why can’t I look like her?!”

Clearly unhappiness caused by social media is a common occurrence. So what’s a girl to do in a world dominated by social networks?

Follow people that you admire for their character.
There are three ways to keep self-esteem intact in an online world where people are presenting ‘perfected’ versions of themselves. One way is to limit time on social media and unfollow accounts that cause you to feel depressed or insecure. Instead of following accounts that make you doubt your self-worth look for those that inspire you to become the best version of yourself. Follow people that you admire for their character instead of their pretty face or fashionable clothes.

Remember no one looks as good in real life as they do online.
The second way to ward off self-esteem attacks is to keep in mind that no one looks as good in real life as they do online. At the end of the day no matter how much money we have or are how good we are with a makeup brush, we are all imperfect humans with skin problems and bad-hair days. The images on social media and in magazines are art, not reality.

Don’t just focus on outer beauty and focus on the importance of inner beauty.
Lastly, remember that appearance is but one aspect of who we are as humans. There are many ways to be beautiful. A toned stomach is attractive, but intelligence and kindness and passion are more so. The most beautiful people are able to endure and overcome hardship, and are compassionate towards others. While looks fade with age, those qualities will never lose their beauty. Laura says that when she starts to feel discouraged by images online or in a magazine, “I count my blessings and remember that I am surrounded by loving family and friends. I try hard every day to be a good person and work towards my dreams.” Now that’s beautiful!

Valentine’s Day: Friends Forever

The typical way to celebrate ‘V-Day’ is getting together with that one boy and watching a classic “chick flick” like The Notebook or The Vow, and buying an expensive dinner for the two of you that you secretly know you don’t like. What about when you don’t have a special boy and just want to celebrate with your friends? Or when you just really don’t want to go through another typical date and eat food you don’t like?

“This year my best friend and I don’t have boyfriends or a special someone and we’re pretty bummed out because everywhere we go there are cute couples all over the place making us feel bad,” said Sammy, 15.

The wild pink and red environment of people running around buying presents was making them feel blue and they decided to get together and throw something completely different for the occasion making everyone’s day a better one.

“We decided we weren’t going to let it ruin our day so we decided we are going to have a party with single friends; kind of like an Anti-Valentine’s thing. I’m just trying to make it a good day for my friends, no more crying over dumb reasons,” said Sammy.

There is nothing like hanging out with your girls sharing laughs and having fun, even when you already have that special someone.

“I have a boyfriend and he wanted to do something special, but I told him no because I wanted to do something with my friends,” said Carla, 17.

“I wanted to have a movie night, perhaps a sleepover, eat a lot of junk food, maybe do some pranks, and just have fun because I love my friends and I know that hanging out with my boyfriend isn’t going to be as fun as being with my girls,” she adds.

For Danielle, 20, she celebrates Valentines Day differently.

“I go to school in Lubbock, my boyfriend goes to school in Austin and other friends or family members are back home in El Paso, I have no one to celebrate Valentine’s day with,” said Danielle.

She adds she has made friends since moving out, but prefers to staining in with her roommate.

“I just don’t feel like going out, I’m just going to stay in with my roommate buy some food and off course, lots and lots of chocolate! This day makes me feel so sad and makes me miss everyone back home, but I don’t mind spending it with my roommate because we’re both girls, we can have fun and share stories together,” said Danielle.

Even though she is miles away from her loved ones she found a way to spend this red day with someone that will give her some company and share this day with even if it isn’t her special someone.

Whether you are celebrating with your significant other or friends, did you know that an average of 15% of the U.S women buy themselves flowers? A little self-love in the form of flowers is nothing to be ashamed about. We deserve something special now and then, and when we have no one to buy us any why not buy them ourselves?

BFF: Dominique & Bethany

BFF: Dominique & Bethany

Spending Valentine’s Day can be a nightmare for some people, but even though they know they don’t have a special someone to share it with there is always going to be your friends you can count on to cheer you up and be with you through the tough times. Go out with your friends, plan a movie night, eat junk food, stay in and share stories, have a party! Good friends will always be there, and if they spend this day with you, you know they’re keepers, you’ll be friends forever.

My Best Friend, My Mom

Girls at parkA mom is considered a blessing. Moms learn to love their child with a love that cannot be compared to anything, because this type of love is the type that will do anything for that little person. Part of her heart already belongs to you, but is already scared. She is terrified of someone hurting you, of losing you, and is scared of failing as a mother. A book with instructions on how to raise the perfect child does not exist.

Coping with an Overprotective Mom

 Right away, a mom has the urge to protect you to a point that is considered being overprotective. This might get annoying, but be patient and try to understand where she is coming from. There will be a moment in our lives where we have to try to understand them — even if we think they are being “overprotective.” You are trying to be more independent, but to your mom you will always be her bebé and she is worried about what will happen to you. When we grow up we often feel more independent, and want to do everything by ourselves. It will be natural for a mom to intervene and try to stop a decision we sometimes think is super important. Sometimes she will intervene so much the relationship will get to a point where a mother and daughter may not speak to each other. Talk to your mom to see why she is being overprotective, and listen instead of resorting to shouting.Try to see if you can take additional responsibilities and how you can gain her trust. Talking instead of shouting will not only strengthen the relationship, but you will be able to see her side of the story.

Alexis Bobadilla, 18, recalls the time when she used to fight with her mom. She was 13 when she decided to choose the wrong type of people. Her mom always tried to stop her from making mistakes that Alexis would regret in a future. Unfortunately, Alexis took her advice the wrong way, and decided to go against her mom’s will. When she became a senior, she realized that she was doing something wrong. She came to her senses and she was able to establish a great relationship with her mom.

“I just realized that I was wrong, and I needed to trust her more, and take her advice, now my relationship with her is amazing,” Bobadilla said.

Strengthening the Relationship with Mom

            Growing up we think we know everything, but we sometimes underestimate the knowledge of a woman who has been through everything. Having a great a relationship with your mom it is not always simple, but it is worth fighting for. You will eventually need your mom for advice; from boys to clothes or from school to raising your own kid, she is not afraid of guiding you. If you are having a difficult time getting along with your mom, try talking to her more to make her feel like you value her opinion. Having a healthy relationship with your mom not only affects you, but your family as well, because pride can be very toxic in a relationship.

          One of the best ways to strengthen the relationship with your mom is by greeting her every time she comes home; following the greeting with a simple question, such as “ How was your day, mom?” These little things are a good way to start a conversation, and speak about the things that happened in your day. Communication is the key in order to have a good relationship with your mom.

            Sometimes it is hard for a mom to understand that her baby is not longer a baby; moms get super attached to them, so when they are already all grown up it is hard for them to let go. Daniela, 21, relates to this. “My mom and I were close, but, as I grew up, I started to get away from her, and she resented it,” Daniela said.

            Yes, we do tend to become distant from our mom during certain times of our lives, but it is important to keep talking to her, and to always find a way to improve the relationship with her. The main reason to have a great relationship with our mom is because there isn’t a bond like the mother and daughter. Your mom may or not be your best friend, but there isn’t an advice like the one that your mother gives you. You will have your differences, but, like any other relationship, you must overcome the bumps on the road.

            Your mom will always be there for you no matter what happens in life. The hardest job is to be a mom. Your mom is one of the few people in the work you can fully trust, and will love you no matter what. Life is too short to keep fighting; try your best understand, forgive, and start over if you are having a rocky relationship with your mom.

You Are Beautiful

“My hips are huge!” Karen from the movie Mean Girls exclaims.

“Oh please. I hate my calves,” Gretchen replies.

“At least you guys can wear halters. I’ve got man shoulders,” Regina tells her reflection.

Scenes like these, though exaggerated, are happening in our very homes. Girls of all ages, starting as young as four-years-old, are being taught that the way they look is not good enough and should somehow be altered. Little girls, just past toddler age, are being put on diets and told that they won’t be “cute” until they lose weight. Four-, five-, and six-year-olds are covered in makeup and hairspray, stuck in frilly dresses, and put on stage to participate in beauty pageants. Rather than encouraging girls to change their appearance, we should teach them to appreciate what they were born with.

With shows like America’s Next Top Model and Toddlers & Tiaras as well as full coverage of things such as the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, it’s no wonder girls have distorted expectations as to how they should look. Truth is, it’s nearly impossible to look like supermodels Adriana Lima or Giselle Bundchen. Trying to imitate their look has just added numbers to the already growing statistics. According to the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, about seven million women suffer from an eating disorder.  Encouraging the stereotypes just causes even greater numbers of girls and women to be dissatisfied with how they look.

Remember that beauty comes in different forms. On the upside, celebrities such as Taylor Swift are often criticized for their tall and thin figure. “She’s anorexic,” and “Does she ever eat?” are comments frequently directed at her image. Many times, when women want to be empowering, they say things such as “Embrace your curves, nobody wants a stick.” Remarks such as these, as well-intended as they are, ignore the fact that girls and women are beautiful no matter what they look like; tall, short, thin, chubby, brown-eyed, blue-eyed, it’s all beauty. There isn’t a template that one has to fit in order to be beautiful. “I remind myself that nobody is perfect, not even those actresses and models,” Chelsea Villa, age 19, says. “We all have different hair, eye, and skin colors, with a variety of hair textures and body shapes, and to me, that’s real beauty.”

Focus on the things you like. Instead of pointing out flaws as we stare in the mirror, we should point out things we like. Something as simple as the shape of your eyes should be a cause to celebrate. No one has perfect features, but it’s important to know what features are perfect for you. Perhaps you don’t like your nose, but your high cheek bones are beautiful and you should remember that. If you’ve always wanted blonde hair but were born with dark brown, choose to focus on how rich your curls are rather than your dislike of the color.

Write positive messages to yourself. Leave them in places where you’ll be able to see them. “Good morning, beautiful!” written across your mirror can help bring a smile to your face and liven up your mood as you get ready in the morning. A post-it note with “Your dark hair really brings out your eyes” written across from it will be a great find as you dig through your pencil bag. It’s nice to hear from others that we look good, but it’s even better to hear it from yourself. Don’t be afraid to bring out the cheesy-overload!

Remember no one has perfect skin. No matter how beautiful and flawless someone’s skin looks, it’s guaranteed that at the worst time possible, they will get a pimple. Don’t stress out if you wake up and you have blemishes on your face. Rather than focusing all your attention on that, head over to your closet and wear whatever makes you feel good. Whether it is a flowered dress, a sparkly shirt, or your favorite band t-shirt, wearing something that you love and feel comfortable in will make you forget that you have some spots that weren’t there before. Learning to focus your attention to things you love about yourself is a great way to feel confident in your own skin.

Understand that beauty isn’t just what is on the inside. Most importantly, remember that beauty isn’t only made up of long legs, perfect hair, and luscious lips. Confidence, intelligence, and wit are beauty. Whether you look like a supermodel or not, as long as you think you’re beautiful and remind yourself of that every day, others will see your beauty as well.

Advice to Love Your Body

We asked our readers what tips they have to help other Latinitas love and appreciate their own beauty. Here are their top tips to love your body.

Latina teen posing for a picture

Everybody is beautiful and awesome in their own way.
Don’t feel bad about yourself. Everybody is beautiful and awesome in their own way. Exercise and eat better. This helps in many ways. Think positive thoughts. Take your mind off of it. Put on clothes that make you feel secure..
-Karen, age 13

Don’t let people get you down.
No one should judge. I really don’t care what people call me because I know who I am and what I do.  They’re saying that stuff because they’re jealous.
-Bella, age 14

You are beautiful and you don’t need anybody to tell you that!
The only person that you need to tell you that you are beautiful is you! The one thing that I have learned is that you need to be confident and you need to believe in yourself. It doesn’t matter who tells you, you are ugly or you’re not perfect. Those people do not matter. The person that should tell you what you are and what you’re not is you! Your imperfections are your beauties!! Believe in that!
-Sarah, age 12

Never put yourself down.
First of all, you have to tell yourself that your are beautiful and never let anything or anyone put you down. Always know that you are truly beautiful when you put yourself down and you don’t truly know it. Take this advice and you’ll know you’re truly beautiful when you do.
-Ivonne, age 11

Putting yourself in a positive attitude will make you look beautiful inside and out.
You should feel good about yourself no matter what other people tell you. Who cares what they say. Putting yourself down can really hurt you and will make others not like you.
-Mariah, age 13

Nobody is perfect.
First of all magazines are totally fake. This is what I do, I don’t really care about what others think or say about me.  God made everybody different for a reason. Just be yourself. It does not matter if you’re fat or skinny.
-Stephanie, age 11

You’re uniqueness is what makes you – you.
No matter what, you are pretty. Remember that all those models and superstars aren’t as beautiful as they seem. They need a lot of work done, and still, they have to go through more. All of our imperfections and flaws are wonderful. There’s no such thing as perfection. And trust me, everyone is insecure at one point or another. It’s just part of being human. But never forget to love yourself for who you are.

You shouldn’t change anything about yourself.
You’re beautiful on the inside and outside. Don’t let people say, “hey you’re ugly, go get a makeover.” No, no, no, you should feel comfortable how you look and feel.
-Bella, 14

Just be proud of who you are and how you look.
If you don’t like your hair, curl it or get highlights.  Because every girl in the universe is unique. They have their different styles. It doesn’t matter how you look because you’re beautiful on the inside and outside.
-Elena, age 11

Is Feminism Still Alive?

“Men underestimate women,” claims high school senior Jessica Gallardo. “Some women are mentally strong. We can overpower anyone,” she adds.

Gallardo is one of many teens that believe that women are capable of doing anything they set their mind to.

It’s been almost 40 years since the Women’s Liberation Movement occurred in the 1960’s and 70’s in the U.S. It was a time when women fought for gender equality and to break the common stereotypes of a women’s role in society . The changed views such as women are in charge of cooking, cleaning and taking care of the children while men work and provide for the family.

Still many teens and young adults believe that women and men are not equal. “I think things have gotten much better since the 50’s, but women still aren’t on the same level as men,” states Ytzel McDaniel, high school senior. “There are lots of double standards. And when Hilary Clinton wanted to run for president there were many comments of her not being capable because she is a woman.”

Since the feminist movement, women have made great accomplishments. Today, there have been a number of successful women that have had careers typically reserved for men including businesswomen, lawyers, doctors, engineers, mathematicians, scientists, and much more. In 1981, the first woman was appointed to be a Supreme Court Justice. In 2008, Clinton was a serious contender to the presidential nomination. In 2009, Sonia Maria Sotomayor because the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. In various countries including Chile, Brazil and India, female presidents have been elected.

Unfortunately, we have not reach complete equality in society. Men still earn more than women for the same job. Men still hold more political positions in the U.S. and we have yet to vote for a female President. While men are still the dominant figure in this society, not all men think it should be that way.

Justin Nelson, a male high school graduate and culinary art student believes that men and women should be paid the same. “They [some men] live off of fear and they know how strong and smart people are, black, Latino, women of all colors. They are scared to let women lead. It’s a shame.”

While some teens and young adults believe that men and women should be equal, some think that they aren’t and shouldn’t be.

Freshman college student, Arlene Alvarez believes that men and women shouldn’t be equal. She explains, “If we were equal to men, we would be eligible for drafts and all the other stuff that’s best to be done by men. It’s not that women can’t do it, but we were given child bearing parts for a reason. It has its advantages and disadvantages but ultimately things are the way they are for a reason.”

Yet, Alvarez does believe that women can hold professional jobs not typical for women such as engineering and thinks that we do not necessarily belong in the kitchen or as housewives.

It seems that there is common ground in the way teens and young adults view feminism. Everyone agreed that men and women should be paid the same for equal work, but the lines become murky when equality threatens to change men and women’s role in society.

By Sonia Rangel

How to Stop Bullying

What is Bullying?
Some young people are bullied because they are different in some way. Perhaps, it is the color of their skin, the way they talk, their size, or their name. Well, as you might know, bullying is occurring all around you. Not only is bullying physical, but it is mental and verbal as well. Gossiping and teasing are types of bullying, but some people think it’s fun to talk about others.

Why do People Bully?
Some people bully because of what happens to them at home. It can be the effect of problems or abuse by an older family member. Some people think that bullying someone else gives them power. For example, when someone hangs around with a few friends, they might want to bully a different kid to be popular. Bullying does not make you look cool. In fact, you just seem like a mean person who wants attention.

Are You a Bully?
It’s important to think about what bullying really is, and whether you are participating in bullying or not. Are you laughing when someone gets called a name? Are you gossiping about someone in your class? Make sure you think about these questions the next time you hear or see something that is considered bullying.

How do You Deal with a Bully?
Bullying can lead to pain, stress, and worst of all depression. Watching someone get bullied is hard, but being bullied is harder! In one way or another, everyone has encountered bullying. Either you have been, or you know someone that has been bullied. Have you ever heard the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” Well to me, it’s a lie. Words do hurt! Parents, teachers and adults can sometimes give advice or take care of the problem. My advice to you is: don’t let that bully have control over you! They are just trying to make you mad or upset, but don’t show them your emotions. It’s always a good idea to tell an adult, so tell someone; don’t keep it to yourself because if no one knows about the problem, nothing will get done to stop it.

Be True To Yourself!
Differences are a part of life, and it is fun to express our feelings and personality! The bad thing is when a bully comes along and judges our differences! It hurts, and that’s WRONG! Differences aren’t bad! We are who we are. None of us are the same! Imagine how boring it would be if we were all exactly the same. We can be ourselves. We can be different, crazy, girly or whatever! Being yourself is healthy. It will make you a happier and more positive person. It will make you happy if you are true to yourself. Make sure you make yourself happy before you make others happy, and respect others that may be different from you.

May 2011

Women Making History

When this country was founded, women had no rights. They were not educated and considered property to men. They were not allowed to vote or take part in politics. If they worked, they had little control over the money they earned. Women were completely dependent on men and confined by double standards. Since then, women have taken great steps in order to gain equal rights as women. Today, women are allowed to vote and run for office, earn a college degree, take on a career and are recognized as individuals. This is mostly due to the efforts of feminists who fought and demanded equal rights and continue the struggle for women’s equality.

According to Webster dictionary, feminism is “the movement aimed at equal rights for women.” There have been several movements in the U.S. supporting women’s rights throughout history. The women’s suffrage movement, a struggle that lasted 100 years, gave women the right to vote when the Nineteenth Amendment was finally passed in 1920. The movement started in the 1820s, before the Civil War but officially began in the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Martha C, Wright, and Mary Ann McClintock. At the convention, women declared they should be able to pursue an education and earn a living, but most importantly they passed a resolution which stated that “it is the sacred duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise.”

Suffrage Movement – Getting the Right to Vote
The most influential women suffrage movement leaders, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, continued advocating for women’s right to vote during and after the Civil War that freed black slaves and gave all male citizens the right to vote when the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments were passed. Although, the women’s suffrage movement died down during the Civil War, the campaign continued and gained strength. The National American Women’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA) was formed in order to seek an amendment in the U.S. Constitution and convince state legislatures to amend state constitutions. In 1910, the states in the west like Idaho and Utah began granting women the right to vote in the state and eventually on August 26, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment was passed. On Election Day, November 2, 1920, women voted for the first time in U.S. history. After the Nineteenth Amendment was passed in 1920, NAWSA turned into the present League of Women Voters. These women paved the way for women to have a political voice. In 1917, Jeannette Rankin, a Republican from Montana, became the first woman elected to Congress.

The struggle continued for women after gaining the right to vote since sexual discrimination continued. Women had unequal pay at work, were excluded from powerful positions and were still restricted to double standards imposed by society. During World War II, when men took off to fight in Europe and the Pacific, women took on the jobs that the men had left behind. They began working industrial and manufacturing jobs to supply arms and weapons during the war. Rosie the Riveter, a powerful propaganda icon, represented the women that worked in factories with its written message, “We can do it!” After the war was over and the men returned, women were forced to go back to their housewife duties. Women continued to be discontent about the inequality that continued and eventually the Women’s Liberation Movement gained strength.

Feminist Movement – Women’s Liberation
The Women’s Liberation Movement, also known as the Feminist movement occurred during the 1960s and 1970s. In 1963, Betty Friedman wrote “The Feminine Mystique,” a book about women’s unhappiness with their lifestyle, and suggested that women were still unequal. The book became a bestseller and began the “second-wave” feminist movement (the women’s suffrage movement being the first.) During this period, the civil rights movement was also going strong and served as a model for the Women’s Liberation Movement as women organized in order to fight for equality. In 1966, the National Organization for Women (NOW) was founded by Friedman in an effort to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) that would mean gender equality. The movement also supported welfare programs for pregnant women, infant care and birth control.

The ERA was passed by legislature and needed to be passed in 38 states within a seven year period in order for the amendment to become part of the U.S. Constitution. It was passed or ratified in 25 states during the first 9 months. The movement was strong and had many supporters as well as opponents. The opponents thought that the amendment would disadvantage women because it would threaten the traditional American family. Many of these anti-ERA supporters thought that feminists were angry, man-hating and hairy legged women which are common stereotype that still remain. The opponents also started a movement against the ERA and stopped the amendment from becoming a law. The ERA was 3 states away from becoming part of the U.S. Constitution. The feminist movement was still successful in raising awareness to gender inequality and empowering women to continue the struggle for equal rights.

Feminism Today
In 2011, the struggle for equality continues. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women make 75.5 cents to every dollar a man earns. Women are not equally represented in the U.S. government since most elected officials are men. Today, women only make up 17 percent of the U.S. Congress. Our society still emphasizes certain gender roles and behavioral norms that place limits on the expectations of women. NOW still continues to convince legislation to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. Following the steps of great feminists that have made great strides for women’s rights, women must continue the struggle to live in a fair and just society.