When Hillary Clinton declared herself the presumptive Democratic nominee on June 7, to say she made history is an understatement. Most people are aware of the gravity of this accomplishment — she is the first accepted female nominee of a major American political party, after all — but the real impact of that history-making moment becomes clearer when placed in a larger context of the women's rights struggle in the U.S. From women's suffrage to Roe v. Wade, a look back at what women couldn't do in previous years shows just how far we've come.
Life was tough for women in previous generations: depending on the decade, women not only faced the all-too-familiar threat of rape and violence, but also couldn't vote, access birth control or abortions, or sue for workplace discrimination. Add to this the ever-present issue of racism against women of color and the historical lack of legal protections for the many women who experienced it, and a stark comparison to our modern experiences of sexism and racism begins to take shape.
Below is an infographic detailing exactly what American women couldn't do on June 8, the day after Clinton declared herself the presumptive Democratic nominee, in previous years and generations. It's eye-opening to see just how much women have been through to get to this historic turning point.
Although much of this timeline takes place before Clinton's birth in 1947, some of the historic events happened during her lifetime, such as women not being able to bartend in 1950; not being able to use birth control while married in some states until 1960; and not having any legal protection from pregnancy discrimination until 1975.
Clinton's presumptive nomination goes beyond symbolism and will have a serious impact on the way women will operate in politics, government, and the private sector. The stark contrast between this record closing of the gender gap in American politics becomes even starker when considering the historical precedent of women's rights — such as the fact that women couldn't open their own law firms until 1971 and couldn't attend military service academies until 1976.
In the U.S. and throughout the world, women still have a long way to go before gender becomes a non-issue. Whether it's including trans women and more women of color in the broader context of women's rights, or continuing the fight against anti-abortion laws and activists, Clinton's win (and potential larger win in the near future) is an incredibly important step in the way to full equality for women.
Images: Tina Gong/Bustle (2)