From an early age I noticed that the women in my family had more challenging times navigating the world than the male elders in my family, and later, more than me, my brothers, and my male peers. It was appalling to witness my Mama, sisters, nieces, and daughter not being given basic human rights and opportunities afforded to men in all sectors of life like the workplace, educational and religious institutions, and even in the home.
I was shocked that women were not allowed to study at certain educational and religious institutions, simply for being women. One of my sisters could not get into Columbia University because she was a woman. They did not accept women until 1983!
Women not receiving the same pay for the same job as men is incomprehensible. My beautiful Mama worked for the telephone company for many years. Starting work there in 1971, she did not receive a comparable salary to men until the 1990s. As a divorcee, she worked so hard to provide for her family. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research reported in 2021 that women who worked year-round in full-time jobs in the U.S. were paid just 83 cents on the dollar compared with men. The wage gap has narrowed since 1960, however, there is still a significant disparity.
It is heartbreaking to note that gender-based violence towards women strikes virtually every family at one time or another. It, unfortunately, made its way to ours through the years. Mama’s brief first marriage, before marrying my Dad, was abusive. The stories are painful. That man, in a drunken rage, would hit her every chance he got. He would even have one of his sisters beat Mama up to “keep her in line.” She literally had to flee for her life. This was in the late 1940s and early 1950s when women barely had any rights within law enforcement or in the courts in small town America.
A couple of my sisters, once in abusive marriages, would show up at the family home with cuts, bruises, swollen lips, and black eyes. As a man who admires and respects women, seeing them beaten down physically, verbally, and emotionally, pierced my heart to its core. The emotions and pain that flooded my soul at seeing my sisters’ beautiful faces beaten that way, are indescribable. Mentally and emotionally, it broke me. How can a man hurt a woman like this? How?
Male chauvinism and sexism did not exist in our family home. When Mama and Dad got divorced when I was a young child, it was all-hands-on-deck for household chores. There was no room in our home for the “Leave It to Beaver” mentality that women and girls are homemakers, men go off to work, and boys go to paper routes to earn money. Mama taught all her boys how to cook, clean, wash dishes and clothes, sew and be respectful towards women and girls. And because Mama’s favorite childhood chore in the 1930s and 1940s was chopping wood, the girls were taught to mow lawns, trim trees, and show respect to everyone. Mama taught us all to show respect to everyone. Mama taught us all to work ethics and survival skills. My siblings and I rode dirt bikes, climbed trees, made mud pies, and collected bugs. And a sister and I had the coolest Raggedy Ann and Andy doll collection you could imagine. One sister loved toy cars and trucks. Girls and boys in my family were equals.
On road trips, I would yell from the backseat “Are we almost there?!” When given the stern pat reply of “almost,” I would sigh and mumble mockingly “yeah, right, almost.” And so, as I matured and aged through the years, championing women’s rights along the way and asking, “Are we almost there?” -- the reply that rings out is “almost.” I seem to have mastered my mumbled mocking reply, yet it is always seasoned with faith and hope.
All my senses are still keenly aware that the battle rages on. Those vivid images are reminders that quicken me to the realization that there is still much more work to be done in obtaining full equality for women. Empowerment Self Defense (ESD) has been such a huge leap in the right direction. It is vital that women acquire violence prevention training, teachings, and tools to learn how to identify and address gender-based violence to protect themselves. If only ESD and MyPwr App were readily available for my Mama and sisters all those years ago, perhaps they would have been spared some of their suffering. I am, however, incredibly grateful, and thankful that women today have more options. I will always stand with women, and I am proud to say I am a feminist!
Dale David Honor works in the Marketing Department at MyPwr Ltd. as a Content Writer/Blogger (SEO). He is originally from Denver, Colorado, and Los Angeles, California, having moved to Jerusalem, Israel in 2004. He brings years of experience in Content Writing, Media, Public Relations/Public Information, Marketing, Domestic Intergovernmental Relations, and Event Planning. Dale is also a professional actor, singer, puppeteer, and writer (script, playwright, creative, business, poetry). He's performed on stage and on television through the years and once created, produced, and hosted his own cable TV access show in America.