Before the war on women continues down the path recently begun by Virginia’s Republican men and a Republican candidate for president, we might do well to review what life was really like for women before the Civil Rights Era and the Women’s Movement.
My first memory is being told by the bank manager where I worked part-time while in college, that my male counterpart (who had barely passed high school with a D average, whereas I was the school valedictorian) deserved twice my wage per hour, because he was a man and I was a woman. No other reason needed to be given.
Shortly after that, I took a course in Business Law at the University of Texas, where I read a chapter on contracts with this subheading: “Morons, the Mentally Ill and Married Women are Incompetent to Contract.” Everything a married woman owned was in her husband’s name. He was allowed to beat her physically with impunity. There were no women’s shelters. Divorced women were scorned and denied credit access. Job applications required a photograph before being considered for an interview, and hiring often took place based on how attractive the woman was. During an interview you were grilled as to your husband’s job and status, your own plans for pregnancy and if not married, why not.
In spite of all of this, I excelled at the University, graduating with honors and obtaining a position with an Insurance Company that soon promoted me as the first woman supervisor of a department — at half the salary made by male supervisors. The reason given by the Human Resource Manager was (and I quote) “Women should not make that much.”
Now, if you are a younger woman who has been told that “radical feminists” ruined this society, ask yourself honestly: Do you really want to go back to 1963? Is that a better world than the one you live in now? Women voters outnumber male voters. Take charge of yourselves and choose. At least we gave you that choice.
S. Ann Robinson