By Angela Valente Romeo
There is an adage that actions are stronger than words. Sometimes words are the action. Carlynne McDonnell’s book, “The Every Woman’s Guide to Equality” is one of those sometimes.
This Texas native now calls the Coachella Valley her home. The journey to this book is the journey of her story. Carlynne has a Master’s in Public Policy and has been working in the corporate, education and non-profit worlds for over 30 years. She is the founder of the nonprofit Change in Our Lifetime, which is dedicated to achieving equality for women. She is a sought after workshop leader and lecturer on women’s equality, leadership development, organizational strategy. The Every Woman’s Guide to Equality is her gauntlet challenging all of us, men and women, to understand that equality is not just the right to vote.
Carlynne has worked in several male-centric industries where discrimination in many different forms was present. “It was not so subtle, such as pornographic pinups taped around the office to lower reviews than male counterparts even though my work results had been as good or better than their work. It was things as being addressed as ‘hun’ in meeting with my colleagues. How many times was asked did I not want to have children and a home? I rarely heard men asked these questions or addressed that way. I continue to listen to the stories of how sex discrimination and harassment have ruined countless women’s lives, curtailed their careers, and then limited their opportunities for legal and financial recourse.”
For those of us grew up in the Title IX, Our Bodies Ourselves era, it is frustrating to hear the same arguments still being played out. “The discussion of equality is not new. We may have made great strides in certain areas for many who have been disenfranchised but women’s equality is still the pushed to the back. We are told, ‘You can vote, be happy.’ That mentality undermines any hope for real equality and reinforces the acceptance of inequality”
“Women need to seize the moment. Yes, women are attaining strides in many areas but the inequality within those strides cannot be dismissed. We cannot accept that men and women are equals when there is disparity in pay, in opportunities, in acceptance, in short just about everywhere. We are training the next generation to accept ‘close enough’ and not equality level. It is sad to me. More frustrating is to hear the words: the next generation will achieve these goals. Why? What is wrong with the here and now?” notes Carlynne.
The Every Woman’s Guide to Equality looks at inequality from healthcare to workplace to violence against women. “In 2013 the Violence Against Women Act was reauthorized to bring domestic violence from a private matter to a crime that police would investigate. Violent attacks should be investigated; so why the need for this act? By legislating this it reinforces that women need special protection. We need to be treated equally under the laws. That is true equality.”
“I find the term ‘domestic violence’ demeaning. It is familial violence. Violence against women resembles nothing domesticated. It is a $37 billion annual national tragedy that we must resolve and end now,” state Carlynne. “Women need to accept that we are a powerful voting and economic power. We can be embracing this power, create change for all women.”
Equality is not a concept that lives neither in a bubble nor only in the United Sates. It is a worldwide concern. With equality come many things – not the least of which is acceptance. Acceptance may lead to peace. Peace is a goal for all. The quest for equality is not a woman’s issue. “Equality is everyone’s concern. But to start with, women have reduced their ability to achieve equality by segregating themselves by race, culture, religion, and political affiliation. When women can unite as women first and foremost, without labels or categorization, we are ready to come to the table.”
How did Carlynne handle the pornographic pin ups? “I pinned up a few male pinups. Miraculously the pinups disappeared.”
The Every Woman’s Guide to Equality is available at www.everywomansguidetoequality.com, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.