Monday, November 7, 2016

A bigger design, headed by an "H"

Susan Faludi’s piece in The New York Times (Oct 30, 2016) reminds me that change is a looooong time coming—assuming it comes at all. Hillary is pilloried for being smart, feisty, persistent, you name it. One thing is indisputable: Hillary Rodham Clinton has had a plan for decades.

Back in the day, when I served as (apparently) the first woman co-editor of uPenn’s yearbook, the Record, the editorial group documented current pressing issues—most of which haven’t changed. When we discussed Women’s Lib, the male photography editor gleefully noted that his friend could do a cartoon of an Amazon holding up a couple of vanquished men. Hardy har har. We ran the cartoon—and I made sure it was was positioned between a quote implying liberated women are neurotic and my editorial riposte. In its review, The Daily Pennsylvanian stated my essay was too soft. It was. But I stand by every impassioned and prolix word of it—however bad the writing and the typography seem today.

I also stand with Hillary, flaws and all.

In case you’re feeling strong, the text is below. In case you want to see snaps of the pages of the ancient artefact, I can post them.

• • •


Not all Women’s Lib members are neurotic. Or ugly. Many people who consider Women’s Rights as an important issue which has been glossed over for centuries, scorn critics’ labels and look beyond the stereotypes. Despite such understanding by some, however, the stigma of a liberated woman as a Charlotte Atlas, raging Fury, and wearer of jockey shorts remains. While the misconceptions provide occasionally amusing cartoon material, they miss the point.

Liberated females don’t all want to unsex themselves. They simply wish to point out that women are much stronger mentally and physically than many people wish to admit. Men often seem to hate the thought of being outdone by “the weaker sex.” If a female performs in a superior manner, she is metamorphosed into a freak or amazon since girls supposedly aren’t capable of such feats. A woman’s place is in the home—or at least out of obvious competition.

Women’s Liberation complains that women have been stifled by the traditional concepts and roles  of females. By raising consciousness, the movement sensitizes women to such facts:

—To many, girls, exist only for marriage, and once married, life’s problems will come from burnt meals. The idea that after marriage a woman is a mere auxiliary rather than her own thinking being, is inane.
—In employment, women with college degrees are often put into clerical or secretarial positions. Other more stimulating jobs go to less “risky,” less “emotional” male family heads. The female family bread-earners are ignored.
—Females applying to professional schools are often told their chances of survival are slim because they will probably marry. Men admitted to professional schools, on the other hand, often marry and depend on their wives for support.
—Women who have lasted through rigorous academic training and become holders of M.A.’s or Ph.D’s, are paid lower salaries than male counterparts.

The basic issue is much more than equal pay for equal jobs, however; it is equal treatment for equal capability and performance. By demanding such right, women do not necessary condemn the age-old roles of wife and mother. Like any other human, women need people—the other sex included—in order to interact as a complete being [sic]. The women do, however, condemn generalizations that place them in categories such as passive, scatter-brained, indecisive, and useless outside the house. Women’s Lib is working to obliterate the inaccurate definitions of what a female is and can do. Perhaps by dispelling old myths explicitly defining femininity and implicitly defining masculinity, women will liberate a few males as well.

—Beth Tondreau


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