RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) Is history repeating itself? Some say recent abortion legislation, and a renewed birth control debate, have rekindled the women’s rights movement in the commonwealth.
Tracy Sears went to the Virginia Historical Society (VHS), to see what those who deal in the past have to say about the events of the present.
The VHS thinks a women’s rights movement could be reemerging. Politics provoked such movements in the early 1900s, 20s, the 60s, and the 70s.
The Virginia Historical Society is documenting what has been happening following recent legislation in the General Assembly, and the comments made nationally in response.
The real beginning of the gender equality movement was in the 1970s, and while it’s still unfolding today, over the past few months we’ve seen several Virginia women become more vocal and more passionate about the rights they believe are being threatened.
“For over 400 years Virginia women have been an important part of our history,” said Frances Pollard with the VHS.
There was the women’s suffrage movement in 1920, the civil rights era in the 60’s, “and then in the 70’s you began to see feminism as a national and state movement come to fruition.”
All of these eras are documented at a VHS exhibit called “The Virginia Experience.”
While it may be a reflection of the past, it’s also telling of the future.
“Women are tired and we’re not going to take this anymore,” said Katherine Waddell, a former state delegate.
Both nationally and here at home, women, many who’ve remained silent over the past few decades, say they’re taking a stand once again.
Women are holding protests and silent vigils because of legislation they consider an affront to women and their reproductive rights.
“It makes you realize that something has changed, something has happened to cause this,”
Waddell is among 11 women who’ve launched Women’s Strike Force, a bi-partisan coalition that has recruited thousands of new followers over past few weeks. [WEB EXTRA: Women’s Strike Force looking to back pro-choice candidates]
“In fact the Women’s Strike Force has been asked if we could go national- if we would go into other states,” said Waddell.
Others, however, don’t see recent events as a threat to women.
“It’s a war on the family- it’s not a war on women,” said Don Blake, President of the Virginia Christian Alliance.
He said that the legislation gives women more rights, by helping them to make informed decisions.
“It disturbs me to see members of the Virginia Senate say we’re going back 200 years to the Stone Age,” said Blake. “The ultrasound is raping women- these are all lies.”
Yet many women say they see truths in their beliefs, and hopes in their actions.
“What I anticipate seeing is historians and grad students coming here for years to come,” said Pollard.
The VHS is collecting artifacts and documents from events that have unfolded over the past few months here in Virginia, to add to the exhibit.