Mitch McConnell unintentionally but aptly summarized the women's equality movement when he recently chastised Elizabeth Warren: "She was warned. It was explained to her. Nevertheless she persisted.” His words instantly became a rallying cry.

Mitch McConnell unintentionally but aptly summarized the women's equality movement when he recently chastised Elizabeth Warren:  "She was warned. It was explained to her. Nevertheless she persisted.”  His words instantly became a rallying cry.
Other slogans have arisen over the years. Abigail Adams penned one of the first. "Don't forget the ladies" was her request to her husband who helped create the Declaration of Independence.  Her words went unheeded, and only men were declared to have been created equal.
"You've come a long way, baby” was a popular 1968 cigarette advertisement. I turned 21 that year and was  happy to know we had arrived.  After all, wasn't having our own cigarettes proof enough of  equality?
Fifty years later I recognize that, yes, we have “come a long way, baby,” but progress has been sporadic, with myriad obstacles. Ironically, threats to equality are as pernicious now as they ever have been.
Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972, thanks to Representative Martha Griffiths who was born in Pierce City, Missouri. The Amendment collapsed because it was ratified by only 35 of the required 38 states. Missouri went half way with our House of Representatives voting for ratification but our Senate opposing it.
Another Missouri woman, Phyllis Schlafly, helped to defeat it, claiming that equal rights would spell calamity for America. Evil connotations were attributed to the women's rights movement. Feminism became a dirty word.  This radical rejection of equality was just another chapter in the fitful saga of women's progress.
Women have had the right to vote since 1920, though Mississippi didn't ratify the 19th Amendment until 1980, a symbolic snub. Not until 1981 did Sandra Day O'Connor become our first female Supreme Court judge. We await our first female president.
In l980, Florida elected the first woman Senator who wasn't following her father or husband in to the seat. Almost forty years later, less than 25% of Congress and state legislatures are female.
Sally Ride was the first  U.S. woman in space in 1983. Jerre Cobb, however, was the first in astronaut training in 1953 before the woman's program was canceled. It took 30 years to get a woman launched.
Only married women could get a prescription for birth control until 1972. Abortion became legal in 1973, but states have given veto power to husbands, fathers, and even child abusers and rapists. The campaign to overturn Roe V. Wade and to limit access to contraception is stronger today than ever.
In 1972, I was a teacher and was disciplined for wearing a pantsuit to work. That seems  ridiculous today. Yet, we now have a President who expects female staff in the White House to “dress like a woman.”
These are a few examples to show that we have "come a long way, baby" even without  a Declaration of Independence that "remembered the ladies” or a Constitutional Equal Rights Amendment. But progress is disproportionate, the glass ceiling has not been breached, and we face a regressive backlash that is eroding hard-won rights. But Mitch McConnell said it well: though we have been warned and had it explained, we will persist.


Sherry Buchanan wries a column for the Neosho Daily News