The People's Budget – A Sane Third Way
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How Did the Women's Movement Affect Your Life?

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Regarding the link about face aging technology showing up on the Facebook walls of some of you yesterday: that most definitely was not from me. It was spam. Being Facebook illiterate, I have no idea how it happened or how to prevent it. (I gather, from the news media, that Facebook is frequently subject to these attacks.)

The only reason I have a Facebook account - and the only thing I use it for - is as a secondary distribution point for this blog for Facebook users who asked. I'll be rethinking that now.

Inequalities remain – women still lag in the paycheck, for example – but overall, “we have come a long way, baby.” I think, sometimes, we forget that.

For at least 30 years, young women have known from the cradle that they can grow up to be doctors and lawyers and corporate chiefs just like men.

That wasn't so for us who are elders now. We are the last generation to know what it was like for women before the dramatic changes resulting from the mid-20th century women's movement.

When I started working in the late 1950s, women had few choices beyond teacher, nurse and secretary. I could not get a credit card in my own name, buy a house or sign most contracts.

The few women who attended college then were said to be there for their MRS. degree and that was a joke only the first time you heard it. Many of those young women dropped out as soon as they married part way through their four years.

For those of us who went to work instead of college, it was legal for employers to pay us less for the same jobs men did. Men needed more money, the reasoning went, because they had families to support. Sometimes employers did not hire qualified, young married women because they might become pregnant before long and in those days, most women became full-time mothers.

If a woman wanted or needed to end a pregnancy, there was nowhere to go but a back-alley abortionist who was, with rare exceptions, not a physician operating in unsanitary conditions. Many women died.

You all know the story of how it began to change for women. In 1963, the publication of The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan kicked it off. It astonishes me now, given what a turgid read the book is, how many of us read it and how inspired we were.

Thousands of women joined ad hoc study sessions with friends (remember consciousness raising groups?) often in secret because husbands, in those days, had the power to control what their wives read.

Life didn't change overnight. Even though my husband and I would surely have been bankrupt if we had relied on his financial skills, he got the credit rating when we divorced in 1971, and no company would give me a credit card although it was, by then, legal for me to have one in my name alone.

It took a long time for the language to change too. As late as 1975, women of all ages were still called “girls” and the honorific, Ms., for those brave enough to use it, remained suspect.

During the long years of transition, there were impassioned arguments about whether men should open doors for women and if they should still walk next to the curb (or was it the building?) when with a woman – uh, girl, whatever. It seems so silly now.

I clearly recall the first time I actively stood up for one of my new-found rights. At the local television show where I worked in New York, I had been asked to train a man who had been promoted to producer.

A few days later, quite by accident, I saw our show's paychecks laid out on a desk in the production manager's office as he prepared to distribute them that week. The producer-in-training's check was about a third larger than mine.

I was livid. What came rushing to mind was a similarly unfair situation when I was 18, working at an insurance company and heading up a small department of four people.

One day I was called into the company president's office and told to train a new girl for my job. Oh, no, he said, there was nothing wrong with my work, but the new girl had a college degree.

Later I learned that she was also the president's daughter's best friend. If you were a girl in those days, 1959, and if you were as young as I was then, you didn't argue with your boss, especially if he was a man.

But I immediately took the week of vacation I was owed and found another job within a couple of days leaving the new girl on her own. (I told you the other day I can be mean.)

Back to that TV show in the mid-1970s. I took my fury home with me that night to ponder my options. Then, in a closed-door meeting with the production manager, I calmly explained what I had learned about our salaries, noted that I was far more experienced than the new producer and that I expected an adjustment in my weekly check.

It was amazing how quickly my salary was raised and not only that, my next check contained an additional amount equal to six months of the raise.

Although the federal equal pay act was a decade old at the time, it was still widely ignored and women had only recently begun to sue in situations such as mine.

I was immensely proud of standing up for myself this time instead of skulking off without a word of protest at being wrongly treated. It was one thing, within the women's movement, to write letters, to march, picket, carry signs – all important in reaching the goal. This, however, was personal and I had done it myself, for myself. And I had won.

But it was bigger than that too. Mine was only one small act of resistance to the status quo of women (more politely and quietly, by the way, than I would handle it today). But in cities all across America, millions of others were standing up too for their own and others rights and each one helped make a difference in changing the world we live in.

Nowadays, our personal physician or lawyer is as likely to be a woman as a man. Women today can be soldiers and astronauts and truck drivers and anything they can imagine. The number of women CEOs and senators and representatives is growing - not enough yet, but we are gaining on parity and any woman can aspire to be president, even ones who are unqualified – just like men.

That wasn't true when we were little girls, but because of us, our generation, little girls today can grow up to be anything they want to work for. Sometimes I am awed when I think about what we accomplished. It's never easy going against entrenched culture.

So here's today's assignment: Tell us about your experiences with the women's movement. How did you become aware of it? How did it impact your life in the early days? How do you think your life has been changed because of it?

Men aren't off the hook for this today. Many of you did join us and certainly your lives have been changed too.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Shao Zhu


In 1961, I couldn't go to my state university, Rutgers, because it was male only. I didn't want to go to Douglass.

In 1972, I couldn't open a bank account in my own name.

In 1975, I couldn't get a car loan without my father or (ex-)husband as co-signer, although I was gainfully employed with two college degrees and a child.

I started at the bottom in the newspaper business and clawed my way up, working elbow-to-elbow with younger men who had poorer educations and no experience. The only difference was I made less and got fewer benefits.

Early 60's, I nabbed a summer job in a fancy mall high end jewelry store.

Tasks included dusting all the expensive vases, doo dads, shelves, while wearing high heels.

Not just high heels. Come on, I wasn't rich, but I wore clothes.

One day the manager hired another teenage girl, one who dressed way sharper than I did, had perfect nails, anchor woman hair and wealthy parents.

The only thing Sue dusted, was the stool she sat on behind the counter, in case it had cooties.. while she waxed strong about her boyfriends.

"And then he kissed me."

From day one, the manager treated Sue like a princess. One day she leaned over on her stool and bragged to me that her weekly salary was $44.00...

My puny pay was $30.00 a week, but I didn't tell her that.

After dropping her stealth bomb tidbit, I went home and bawled to my dad. He too was ripped.

"Go back there and ask for a raise," he ordered. We even role played how it should go down.

Next day, back at the store..

I knocked on the manager's door..

"come in."

I looked him in the eye, stated my case politely...

The manager (who spent most of his time taking long boozy lunches in the mall restaurant) responded this way:

"Sue is going to university next year. You, on the other hand, are not."

What a slimy creep!

Story short, I found a better job and quit, but before doing that, I quietly placed the fake dog turd my brother bought on the boardwalk in Wildwood inside the $300 gold leaf vase in the store window.

"Na na na na, hey hey, good bye."

The manager ended up being fired for boozing on the job.

I ended up sweeping floors in the pen?

Hold it.

Erase that.

I ended up a Teacher and a Journalist.

Ronni, you can solve your problem with the hacked Facebook account quickly. Here's how:

Also, in respect of Facebook, once you've done the above, you should change your security settings to encrypt them. Go to account/account settings/account security and select the secure browsing option. This will then show as a shaded 'https' section in your browser bar at the top, similar to what you'd get with online banking.

After getting out of the service in late 1968 I started working for a heat sink manufacturer, an electronic component used in machinery. I had a conversation with a rough looking woman in her mid-forties about how she stood at the milling machines just like the men did but made about 60 cents to the dollar men did.

It opened my eyes about other issues. I was already out of sync with the status quo as one raised in the Catholic church and not understanding how any christian could stand by and allow blacks to be treated as 2nd class citizens.

The issue of unequal pay for women doing the same job as men was a force that drove home my developing nascent liberal leanings but it would be several years later when I entered junior college and went on to earn a degree in Sociology that would fully develop what has become my permanent stance on social issues

The women's movement made my life possible. Period. LGBT rights are an offshoot of women seizing full equality, though sometimes some of us forget that.

Besides, thanks to the women's movement I was able to work in construction for 15 years, an experience which changed much about how I see the world.

This is such an interesting topic. How far we've come, indeed. My perspective is from Britain, where among my friends at least, Germaine Greer's The Female Eunoch was more influential than Friedan.

I really identify with what you say about the paucity of career choice for those of us born in the '40s and '50s (I'm a 1953 baby).

I'm probably the last of that generation not to go to university because although it was by then beginning to be accepted for women, it didn't occur to any of us from lower middle-class families to go if we didn't have a specific career in mind. I remember one of my school friends went to university because she planned to be an architect and this was HUGE news in my all-girls school.

My early working days were spent as a secretary, and I clearly remember a very rigid male/female divide. Males were the bosses, females were the secretaries.
Although I've crawled up the career ladder since then, have held senior human resources positions and had a hundred people reporting to me, to this day there are more men at HR director level than women, and HR is to some extent seen as a female ghetto.

But the whole situation is so much better, in the West at least.

The women's movement and those wonderful, wonderful CR groups gave me the confidence to decline proposals of marriage from men I really didn't want to marry, to explore my sexuality and to live as a single woman.

(We had a great magazine in the UK called Spare Rib. At its height, there was page upon page of directories to local CR groups.)

One of the most vital realisations for me was the whole thing around the importance of financial independence, something women take for granted now.

Another lesson we took to heart was how easily humour can be used against us. Remember all those jokes from right-wing media about bra-burning hairy-legged feminists? That spawned a whole group of women who used phrases beginning "I'm not a feminist but...".

It's why to this day I believe we need to reclaim words like crone.

Great topic, Ronni.

Virginia and Tess...
Thank you for the Facebook information. I've purged my account of everything but bare necessities to post TGB there and turned off all information sharing.

What astonished me is there were 14 active apps - not one of which I ever heard of.

I can't relate a personal experience with feminism impacting my life, but it did do so in subtle ways.

When I was a girl the goal of almost every female was to get married and have children. And if you weren't married by the age of 21 you were destined to be an old maid. How quaint that is now.

The complete subjugation of women has been eliminated, thanks to Betty, Germaine and the others who picked up the mantle. There are still inequalities, but the culture for change is so much better that in my youth.

The day is barely begun and already there are terrific, interesting comments and observations.

This post is soooo much shorter than what I could have made it - I could probably do 20 posts on what 20th century feminism has done for us so I'm glad to have you all here to add to what I've said.

Tess touches on an important point I often think about: our generation was never encouraged to think about future careers when we were little girls. It was just assumed we would become housewives and mommies.

No one asked us, as they did with little boys, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

I recall a favorite game with my girlfriends when I was somewhere around eight or nine or ten: Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. We were powerful women in that game who could take care of ourselves, everyone else and vanquish our enemies.

From that, I think we can say we had it in us innately to reach for more than what "they" told us we could be.

Some memories I have are of being discouraged to keep my maiden name, having to call the boss "Mr." while I was called by my first name, hearing men complain of "reverse discrimination" when women were promoted.

What concerns me today is that there appears to be a backlash and young women are all over the internet with Mommy blogs touting the virtue of staying home with kids. They complain they were in daycare while their Mom's (like me) worked.

And finally, after feeling I won the sex discrimination war, I find myself facing the age discrimination one. We live in interesting times.

Ronni, you have hit on a very tender subject.

In 1954, at the age of 17, I entered Engineering School at West Virginia University, the only girl in the school, as I recall. Even my counselor advised me against it and tried to convince me to become a math teach, but I had scored so high on the entrance exams that he couldn't stop me. By age 18 I had an ulcer from the cruelties of the teachers and my "fellow" students.

Ran off and married an old high school friend in the Air Force stationed near Boston just to get out of West Virginia and away from the horrors of college(it was the only way out in those days.
Immediately left him, took my last $11 and got a room in downtown Boston, signed up for night classes at the Cambridge School of Radio and Television Broadcasting, while working at Jordan Marsh selling "women's better dresses", and never looked back

And like you Ronni, I could post a 500 page book on my experiences in advertising/broadcasting since then -- including the adventures I had in the 1960s working in the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta.

Our daughters and grandaughters (and our sons and grandsons) can't even imagine what it was like then. And I'm sure that our predecessors like Margaret Sanger felt much the same way.

It has been a loooong and hard fight, but I sure feel better about the whole thing today than I did in 1954!!

I was raised in that typical "jello mold"; graduate from college, get married, have a family, stay home and entertain your husband's business associates. But after 33 years of that and a divorce, I found there were lots of other wonderful things women could do if they only had the nerve. Thankfully I did, but many more of my friends languished in their old, boring unchallenged ways.

When I reached college in 1970, the old stereotypes about women were dying, but not dead yet. I must have been a genetic feminist, because even as a kid, I hated the TV characters who bawled and batted their eyelashes to get their husbands to do what they wanted. All through college and entering the workforce, the different expectations and stereotypes about women persisted, and it was a constant uphill slog against those second class citizen beliefs. Thanks to the women's movement, I did learn pretty early that I could exercise choice; about where I lived, what I spent my time on and how (and with whom) I lived. That early understanding of empowerment still reverberates in my life today as I live in touch with who I am at the core, and not according to some crazy stereotypes. My nieces' lives are so different, and I am very grateful for that. They knew they could do much different things with their lives, got sports scholarships to attend college and often seemed fearless in ways I could not imagine when I was their ages. The changes have been so powerfully for the good - which I still believe as my aging body twinges from knee and ankle injuries playing pre-Title 9 basketball with out the proper gear!

Great discussion. I think Alice is right, there is a backlash among younger women. Not just the stay-at-home mom blogs (which I am in two minds about - our lives should be, after all, about choice), but the emphasis on looks and celebrity.
Until quite recently I worked with a colleague - a bright, funny and well-educated woman - who was desperate to get married at all costs and desperately feared her 30th birthday.

I think it impacted what I taught my daughter maybe more than my own life since I got married pretty young, but I can't say it had anything or didn't have anything to do with women's rights that I did.

One of the things I did with my daughter was play with her in ways that taught her other ways to be a woman (did the same thing with my son). One specific example is she and I played Barbies and she was furious when I had mine be a truck driver. It was a life lesson though as was the fact I could and was the one laying a flagstone, concrete patio. She followed the pattern when she was a field archaeologist and with the farm work. Some of the city boys were shocked when she could leverage a hay bale better than they could. I had had a mother who did the physical stuff also; so it taught me the same way-- women can do it all if they want (might have to work smarter not more muscular sometimes though).

None of that was an issue of income disparity which impacted other women so much more but just that a woman can do the tough jobs.

What amazed me about the issue of women's rights was when I was doing some research on voting and it really came home to me when I realized my mother who was born in 1912 was the first generation of women born with that right. The very idea that women would not have the right to vote amazes me, but I am sure there are those who'd take it away today if they could when they ridicule the reasons behind female voting as not having the depth behind that of males.

When I was five or six, around 1950, my friend Carol held tea parties and fake weddings. She was bossy and that was okay. Just a few years later she loaned me books from her Cherry Ames collection. About that time I was also reading a bunch of orange bound biographies that included books about Clara Barton, Dolly Madison, Betsy Ross, and lots and lots of males. My friend Steve and I progressed to reading Landmark books which were very exciting tales of men and their accomplishments, from wars to great inventions. Not many women appeared in the Landmark series. My friend Carol was mostly off playing with the girls by then.

Between high school graduation in 1963 and dropping out of grad school in 1970, I learned a lot about how things should be, but purging the prejudices I'd grown up with wasn't as straight-forward as talking the talk about gender equity, liberation and racial and sexual equality.

Over the last forty years I think I've done better and better in terms of understanding, accepting, and promoting equality, but I still have a way to go before I'll be able to honestly say I've let go of all the trash I grew up with.

My parents didn't talk about college for me, just for my brothers. And when (on the verge of flunking Driver's Ed for the second time), I asked my father to help me practice driving, he said to me "You don't need to learn to drive. You can walk to high school, and when you get married, your husband will drive you to the grocery store." That's close to an exact quote, and my father was a teacher.

When I was nineteen and newly married (to an IQ of 90), I lucked into a CR group. I was the youngest and the only one without a college education. At first, I wasn't sure what they were unhappy about--I mean marriage is everything, isn't it? But, I really liked these intelligent, witty and strong young women. They definitely gave me the idea that a woman could do more than motherhood and housework. --And that depending on a man for your happiness could be problematic.

A couple of years later and divorced, I worked as a waitress (another job good enough for women) to raise my son and put myself through college. I then (in my forties) earned a Ph.D. in Microbiology and went to work. For the first time in my life, I was no longer economically fearful. I could get a job with decent pay and good benefits. I did not have to depend on a man or a rotten boss for my financial well-being.

The young women I see at the University are so different than most of the older women. They are more confident and aggressive in going after what they want. I think that's because they always knew that they could. Feminism definitely has made a difference.

Okay, I'll blame not going to college, but what is a "CR Group"??

Being 51, I was growing up during the feminist movement.
Honestly, my first realization was in grade school and watching the Virginia Slims commercial "You've come a long way baby, to get where you got to today! You've got your own cigarette now baby, you've come a long, long way!"

And, as with Tess, we were lower middle class and college was not something you thought about unless you had a specific career in mind. My parents couldn't afford anything and I certainly wasn't going to go into debt just to keep going to school...and for what? I didn't know. Plus, my dad kept hounding me to be a secretary since "you'll always be able to find work"

I've known since grade school that I would always keep my last name if I were to get married (though it never happened ;-) and I LOVED when the term MS. came out.

The life changing book for me, though was The Women's Room. It blew my mind!!

Remember Bea Arthur in Maude? How hip and liberated she was! Or so I thought. A cable station has started replaying Maude and I watch them when I get home from work. WOW! Not all that liberated. Yes, she talked back to her husband but when they got into shouting matches, Walter would eventually yell "MAUDE, DOWN!" and like the obedient dog, she would immediately sit down. Ahhmazing...

CR--Consciousness raising.

After 11 years of a failed marriage and four children I found myself a single mother with lots of responsibility and a job working nights. I knew I had to get a job on day shift. I asked my boss to transfer me into the area where computers were just then entering the business world and he gave me the standard line. "We have to save those jobs for the men. They have families to support and you can always get married again". I guess he didn't notice there was a dearth of men who wanted to take care of four children fathered by someone else. I left that job. A year and a half later moved back to the Midwest with my children. When I applied for a job here, I got a choice between my old job and a job in the computer room. Grabbed the computer job with both hands. Studied, watched, and worked hard. Was on call 7/24/365 for many years. (From 1968 to 2001 when I retired) Worked my butt off to learn more and move up. Made a great living doing something I loved (and still do) and the couple of times I was able to see pay scales, mine was pretty equal to my male fellow employees. I survived by just being one of the boys.
Too many times women ask for special favors - can't be on call, hours need to be 8-5, got to pick up the kids.
Pager??? Absolutely not.
This gives the misogynists reason to discriminate in many ways. It is wrong, but men still have the power and see no reason to give it up. I had hoped that the younger generations would see the wisdom in equality and some do but I don't see that happening in any large degree although some of us are lucky enough to have spouses and male friends that have moved quite a way in that direction. Lately I see a lot of whining about how the role of the male has been usurped by women leading to gender confusion. I hope that all we women of earlier generations have fought for is not lost by default because today's young women think the battle has been won. It has not as you can see by the latest pay scale fracas and the refusal of the Supreme Court to support the women who were discriminated in at least 2 recent lawsuits. (Walmart and Ledbetter)

You stirred everyone up. Look at that.

I was raised by a lawyer and architectural engineer in a day when the architect could only be a draftsman. My life came full circle when I was helped to graduate from college by a woman who couldn't be hired to teach with her post doc in chemistry, but they'd hire her to teach biology.

In the middle of those two experiences, not only did I discover "Colored only" signs in the south, I discovered that I couldn't get a credit card in my name only. That really made me angry. I threw away my bra, ignored the world of prejudice and rotten thinking and proceeded to live as if. Even in the sixties, artists painted second after feeding the family and coming home from work. Creativity was on the back burner no matter how talented you were. Birth control was a faint shadow on the horizon, and once they appeared in their little butterfly packages, however too strong they were, we were free at last.

I fell into every gap known to womanhood. Alcohol and drugs aided my creativity but took away years of my life. Only after my kids were gone, my addictions were dealt with could I go on to college and graduate into a career at age 50.

Now at 70, I am still living as if....just slower. :)

Oh, The "Women's Room" ! That was also, to me, a powerful book.

When I went to college, graduating in 1970, if you didn't teach or become a nurse, you needed to be able to type and take shorthand. Well, I wasn't strong enough to teach or be a nurse, and I got married and so, there I was, typing and taking shorthand in spite of a BS degree. And when I moved from a very good job, I was advised to cash out my retirement because I would certainly never work for the government again because I'd have children...meaning my pension will never be what it should be.

My "ah hah" moment, though, was when I was working as an aide in a school back in the 90's. An 8th-grade girl walked up to a male student who was leaving school because he was sick. She spoke to him a moment and then said, "yes, you'd better go home. Your breath really stinks." That, to me, illustrated the freedom to speak for themselves that young women have compared to when I was that age.

I was born in 1950. My dad died suddenly in 1961. My mother was 36 with two young children, no debt and a stable income (my dad was still on active duty when he died). She could NOT get a loan on a home. Finally, people we kind of knew (teachers at my elementary school) agreed to carry the note. She bought out their equity -- $7,000, nearly half of what she had from my dad's minimal life insurance -- and her hand shook so hard when she wrote the check her signature didn't look at all familiar (I loved it when she told that story). She paid that house off and kept us safe and never remarried.

My mother collapsed into a deep, terrified depression after my dad's death. I decided at that time I would never allow myself to be in her position. I would be independent, make my own money, never have to ask my husband for money to buy a skirt or shoes. To have to ask meant he could say no and humiliate me. Make me grovel. I was very afraid of that.

When I was a high school soph, I and some other athletically inclined girls asked our gym teacher, Miss Ford (lesbian, like all my other gym teachers) if we could play team sports with other schools. Miss Ford said no, because the coach wouldn't be able to go in the girls' locker room.


My high-school counselor urged me to go to a state university to get my teaching certificate "to fall back on." I come from a rough town, maybe all she could hope for was to keep us out of prison. It NEVER OCCURRED to me when I was in high school that women could be doctors or lawyers; I just had no idea.

When I worked in a ski area in the West, I and some other athletically inclined young women asked the legendary Norwegian who'd brought skiing to the Rockies in the late 1930s if we could jump in the gelande (a ski-jump competition that uses natural terrain to jump off, in this case a snowed-under mine dump). He said no, because it would ruin us for childbirth. (And it's only this year that women FINALLY got the Olympic ski jump go-ahead).

I woke up not with Friedan (she was kind of old and too wealthy for me to relate to) but with Erica Jong's Fear of Flying and Germaine's Female Eunuch, especially. I loved Gloria Steinem for saying she would never marry (OK, she gave in at 66) and Katherine Hepburn for saying she didn't have kids because she knew she'd never be home for them.

I didn't have kids, either, because I didn't want to be a single mother (my mother and a couple of friends who had babies at age 20 and then divorced were horrifying enough examples) and I didn't work on learning how to be married nor did I ever seek out men who wanted to marry me.

I didn't want to marry because I didn't want to divorce. That sounds silly, but it isn't. I've just been through a divorce and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. Though now I have a better idea of how to be married.

I got married at 53 to a man who could quote poetry but not wield a hammer. I had worked as a solar water heating installer in San Francisco and got a home repair manual and a cordless drill for housewarming presents when I bought my first home in 1993. I could manage the basics. He said he blamed his father for not teaching him how to be handy. My jaw dropped. Guess who took care of our house?

Women today call themselves girls but never feminists, ewwww. Oh well, at least they have choices, even if they don't appreciate how that came to be.

Now, I come to this Web site for tips on how to proceed with my third age, or whatever you want to call it. I'm learning a lot, Ronni, and once again I say, thank you for provoking our thoughts.

Probably the biggest lesson my mother taught me was not to rely on a man for money.

My mother became pregnant with me in 1950 when she was in her third year of college. She dropped out to marry my father.
Her life became a sad succession of marriages always partly for love and for financial help.
Mom always had a job, but they were jobs that did not challenge her good intellect.
Before she died at age 61, she was proud to see that both of her daughters had decent paying careers that would provide them a good retirement pensions.
I have been married twice, but in both marriages I have managed the finances. I do not need a man around to pay my way in life.
I feel very sad when I think of the struggles my mother had.
Shortly before her death from lung cancer, she had earned a degree in nursing. She was able to work at a career for a couple of years. At least she had that.
She died single and unfulfilled. Men had dominated her life.

I am turning sixty this year. I got really lucky in terms of the women's movement.

Sadly, though, most young women of today believe that a man in their life is the big goal to happiness.

I believe they are wrong.


WOW -- great responses to this searing question. So many women remember the days of being treated as second class which came with searing anger at the system, culture, or prejudice, whatever one wants to call it. I experienced much of what the folks are saying in the comments. --- barbara

The book for me was "Sisterhood Is Powerful" by Robin Morgan. I remember being the first "professional" woman hired into an office that was all Bosses (men) and Secretaries (women). The men were all Mr. Lastname and the women were all Firstname. The secretaries brought the bosses coffee on trays (I kid you not.) The head secretary refused to call me by my last name. I was outraged by the whole sexist system. It amazes me to think I lived through that crap.

I'm a day late. I should submit my story in the Storytelling Place. It's too long for here. I'm just so thankful for the sacrifices and the guttsiness of all the women and men who made it possible for me to raise four daughters with choices. Being 75 now, Ronni, I can definitely appreciate being the last generation to be kept in my female "place".

Marvelous topic and great posts - almost all of which I can relate to - had to leave work when I got married in 1958 in Scotland - when I tried to register for work I was asked what was the point I would soon be pregnant - too true to be funny - years and six children later I was sitting up in bed in Australia -reading Germain Greer's the Female Eunuch - I laughed till I cried. I eventually achieved my dream of going to university helped by a wonderful man with a vision - a Prime Minister called Gough Whitlam who brought in sweeping social changes and provide tertiary scholarships for mature aged women. He was soon dumped by an electorate frightened by his vision. But thousands of lucky women went on to careers and a fully realised life because of his - and of course, their own efforts. We've travelled far but the journey isn't over yet.

I'm 35, and everything I have in my life was possible because of the women's movement:
-I have two master's degrees, both of which my husband paid for (I believe in the pre-feminism days, women often worked multiple jobs to cover their husbands' tuition);
-I don't have children by choice; and
-I have a husband who was raised by a feminist and is an amazing person and partner in every way.

I am grateful to the women's movement and always will be.

I loved your post. I just want to nitpick for a second and note that 87% of counties in the US do not have a licensed abortion provider, which means that 36% of American women live in places where back alley abortions or long trips to other locations are required if they need to terminate a pregnancy.

Before the equal lending for women was tagged on to the equal opportunities act, I got laughed out of the bank when I tried to get a mortgage as a young, single woman. After it was added, banks couldn't treat me more enthusiasm. I owe my becoming a homeowner at 23 to the women's movement.

The movement had little effect on me. I already knew, being well-taught by my family, that inequalities of any kind in society should be resisted.

So once I gained the power, I hired and promoted a great many women, and made sure they got wages equal to anyone's.

I somewhat resent comments like "Men aren't off the hook for this today."

Perhaps those who were denied equal rights for centuries might better recognize the efforts of the "powerful" who helped them gain equality.

Oh for god's sake, gabbygeezer. Of course that means men are not off the hook from responding just because the topic is the WOMEN's movement. That's obvious from the context.

My way around unequal pay was to become a transit driver with a "Union" to protect me. Saw lots of "attitude" from the riding public...many of thwem still promoting "male drivers". The few of us females hung inthere & slowly changed some minds. We were role models for many female children of other drivers.

The women's movement taught me that if a person was ill-equipped for parenthood birth control would pretty much solve that issue. I am so grateful that when I was a young woman I had choices...and when I see young women having children they shouldn't be having yet..I wonder, didn't they learn in school what I did? That makes me a little judgmental, I guess..but birth control remains a most amazing "right"...I cringe when young people bring offspring into the world without a good plan. Hooray, Margaret Sanger.

Birth control yes -- it wasn't easy to get for the unmarried, I finally got it a month too late. Abortion also wasn't legal. Having a baby "out of wedlock" was frowned upon, my mother told me social services would legally take my baby if I wasn't married (not true). And you couldn't stay in college or attend as a single mother. this was all before 1970. I tried for an illegal abortion but it didn't work out. That was scary as hell. My unplanned offspring, by the way, has a college degree (so do I), a Master's too, married in his 30's and is doing quite well. I'm glad I had my kids, glad for the freedom young people have now, thanks to the women's movement. I hope we don't go backwards.

I was lucky that for my freshman year of high school, the superior science and technology magnet school decide to allow girls to freshman year. There were even protests that they were letting "girls" into Lane Tech (as it was called back then)

The Female Eunuch and The Women's Room did it for me, not to mention the contraceptive pill for a feeling of real liberation.

My father always encouraged me in education, dreading the lot of women in our working-class milieu who were consigned to factories. Alas, I couldn't perform at the optimum time, being a late starter, so did 13 years of secretary/PA until the light switched on that I would only ever be a handmaiden in a job like that. Better late than never, I started Uni. at aged 30 and didn't look back.

Sorry I'm late to the party, as ever!

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