I asked a historian of women’s issues, “In the 1920’s, and recently, there were great strides for women’s rights. Why did it fade away?”
The answer got was not one I expected. “It didn’t. The media merely stopped reporting it.” Whether it is Tiananmen Square or Washington Square, if people can communicate, they can rally around a cause. When there is a coup, what’s one of the first things the leaders take over? Radio and television stations. In China, Internet phrases are banned. “Tiananmen Square” itself is forbidden speech. This nation’s founders added the First Amendment to the Constitution which, among other things, guarantees freedom of speech, the right to petition, and the right to peaceably assemble. In Ben Franklin’s day there was no mass media-certainly not on any real scale. It was “one if by land and two if by sea,” merely lanterns in the Old North Church that alerted the locals of how the British troops were coming. The ways of communicating were few and limited. William Dawes and Paul Revere rode through the night on horseback, shouting that “the Red Coats are coming!” And from that comes our Second Amendment as Minutemen picked up their firearms to go out to fight. Freedom of the press, when all was said and done, was rather equal. It was who had the best and latest information that mattered. A century later that had all changed. The massive press started to grow and by the time of Citizen Kane, multimillionaires could get their message out, but the ordinary citizen could not. The mass press could paint a picture that was hard to change, at least by an ordinary citizen. The radio came out. At first it was seen as the great equalizer, but soon the airwaves were clogged and government stepped in. Soon radio stations and networks, owned by large corporations, ruled-right into the days of television. Mass media is not nefarious; merely limited. Our political leaders speak in sound bites not because they are as stupid as we might cynically think, but because that’s what the media mechanism can handle. Or as Dr. Emmett Brown in the film “Back to the Future” says in 1955 when he sees the camcorder of 1985 and is amazed to learn that Ronald Reagan is President of the United States, “No wonder your president is an actor: he has to look good on television.” Blogs have leveled that playing field. The right of people to peaceably assemble is no longer limited to the town square. Nor can messages that resonate be quashed by tanks that roll through town to disperse a group that has peaceably assembled to ask for change. It will prove a more daunting task to silence women’s voices or to make out that women actually believe they have all the rights they need. Free speech - an American right; a human right - can thrive when people have the means to speak their minds and rally for a cause. The revolution has come and women are finally plugged in. It’s called Blogs.