Steve Cotler

Steve Cotler

Women’s Rights: Seemingly a Low Priority

Following up my previous post on this topic, today I sent the  letter below to the editor of the Finger Lakes Times in Seneca Falls, NY:

The struggle for women’s rights has an extraordinary history, and the struggle is ongoing.

My wife and I, on a recent vacation in the Finger Lakes area, made a special pilgrimage to the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls. We were appalled to see the embarrassing state of the Visitor Center.

The exhibits, while attractive and well maintained, were woefully out of date. Not one of the exhibits is current. It appears that the information presented to the public has not been updated since 1993—nothing about a single female leader in any field for the last 16 years. How humiliating!

I inquired and was told by Park staff that funding has never been available to update the data presented. If that is the case, then why keep the Visitor Center, filled as it is with obsolete data, open?

In an effort to publicize this travesty more widely, I wrote to all 17 women senators who currently sit in Congress. I also made a contribution to the Friends of the Women’s Rights National Historical Park, a non-profit based in Seneca Falls, but that organization seems to be moribund; my check has not been cashed, my letters of inquiry have not been answered.

I am a continent away. You live in the cradle of women’s rights. On behalf of women of the 21st Century, please remedy this embarrassment.

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Update 1/7/09:  I received a phone call this morning from Marilyn Tedeschi, president of the Friends of the Women’s Rights National Historical Park. She assured me that her non-profit is not moribund. She is hand-delivering my comments to the superintendant of the WRNHP today.

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Update 1/16/09:  The following is excerpted from a letter dated 1/9/09 from Marilyn Tedeschi, president of the Friends of the Women’s Rights National Historical Park:

The Friends and also the Park could not agree with you more regarding the frustration over malfunctioning and outdated exhibits. When I spoke to Lee Werst, the chief of interpretation for the Park, regarding your letter, he looked up a project request he wrote in January ’07 for approximately $1 million to refurbish the Park’s second floor. The [funding] would be for 2011! I tell you this to give you a small understanding of what it is like to work with the Federal Government.

I enjoy your spunk and hope it opens a few eyes.

5 Comments

  1. Emily says:

    Not one response from any of the 17 female senators? Even your own two? Even the one from NY? Atrocious.

  2. Abi says:

    OH I’m so disheartened! I think you should send those Senators each a follow-up with a copy of your letter above.

    Keep us posted.

  3. lailani says:

    I get auto-responses from politicians from every email letter I send, but I’ve never put a stamp on one and mailed it. Maybe they don’t know where their local post office is.
    That, along with their non-response in general, worries me greatly.

  4. Marie Fabian says:

    What about writing to some of the male senators? Why should it be the responsibility of just the women? I would hope that in this day and age we would hold the male senators to a higher standard than one that assumes it should fall to the women to care about women’s issues.

    • Steve says:

      Of course it is not just up to the female senators. I chose to write to the 17 women, thinking that they would be more responsive. Maybe I was wrong. Send a note to your male senator(s)—assuming you are not a resident of California or Maine, both of which have two women senators—copy me, and I’ll post it here.

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