I have my personal gratitude list ready – well, in progress. I’m not sure it will ever come to an end. But listening to an interview with a woman at the Democratic convention yesterday, I was moved to celebrate the changes that I’ve seen in my lifetime relative to the position of women in the United States. So, here’s a list. (No doubt I’m off on time-line, and I’m open to other comments and corrections.)
First, not in my lifetime, but in my mother’s. She had already given birth to my big brother before she was allowed to vote.
- When my daughter was 13 in the area of New Haven, Connecticut, she was ready to graduate from her Pediatrician to a “grown-up” doctor. She wanted a woman, but there were no women doctors available. Women were not allowed to do residencies at the hospitals there. In fact, I remember how excited some of my own women clients were when women physicians finally became available.
- Mail carriers were called “Mailmen” because they were all men.
- Firefighters were called “Firemen” because they were all men.
- Police officers were called “Policemen” because they were all men.
- Lawyers were men. The fear was that women entering the profession would reduce the incomes. I think maybe that was proved true. (Se 58% below)
- Accountants were men. See above.
- Nurses were women. Some longed for men to enter the profession to raise incomes. (see 58% below.) I believe that has happened. Some will tell you the profession has changed.
- Bank tellers were all men, unless they were women training the men for higher positons.
- One of our SCSU graduates (more than one, I’m sure) had to leave her job as a teacher when her pregnancy began to show.
- Women newspaper reporters were pretty much confined to the “Women’s Pages.”
- When I had just received my PhD, I was interviewed for the New Haven Register because I was president of our local Lutheran Church Women. They published a photo of me with something I had cooked. Though I was proud enough of my academic accomplishment to mention it more than once, that fact was not included in the description of my important activities.
- I believe there were no women TV anchors. If there were, they were so rare that I didn’t see them. Why? Women’s voices were “too weak—wouldn’t represent authenticity and power.”
- Women radio reporters were extremely rare, if any. Why? See above.
- Women foreign correspondents were next to none, if any. Why? See above, and below.
- Then there was Ella Grasso who served as the 83rd Governor of Connecticut from 1975 to 1980. She was the first woman to be elected governor of a U.S. state without having been married to a former governor. Letters to the editor during her campaign were filled with fears that she would be irrational during that “certain time of the month,” or permanently disabled if and when she was menopausal.
- Women generally could not own property in their own names. When I became single after 20 years of marriage and went looking to buy a house, the gentleman agent took me to a few highly undesirable places, telling me I couldn’t expect much more as an unmarried woman. I changed real estate agents.
- Most libraries at the time wouldn’t give a married woman a card in her own name, requiring her to have one in her husband’s name.
- When my marriage ended in 1976, most businesses were willing to give me a credit card in my own name since I was now single, but J.C. Penney refused. I haven’t done much shopping there since.
- Women’s income was 58% of men’s.
- There were some interesting side effects as businesses and government acted to bring about some balance. When I was first employed at SCSU there was an imbalance in favor of women who could retire at age 50, while men had to wait until they were 55. Balance was finally achieved when the retirement age for women was raised to 55.
- And there was the decision by the Southern New England Telephone Company to open all jobs to both men and women. Only a few women immediately applied for the higher-paying pole-climbing jobs, but many were the folks who were surprised to hear a man’s voice saying, “Operator.” (That’s the old days with old fashioned phone service in case you don’t remember.)
- While office managers struggled to remember that middle-aged women were not “girls,” cigarette makers opined, “You’ve come a long way baby.”
- I suspect and hope there will be additions in the comments on this posting – as well as corrections.
- One almost final note: When I had completed everything toward my Ph.D. at Boston University and was working on my dissertation, I moved back to Connecticut with my new husband. One of my professors gave me a letter of introduction to a researcher at Yale. I was granted an interview. Not having heard back from him for a while, I called to inquire and was told the Secretary’s job had been filled.
- One final note. I wasn’t aware that there was anything wrong with many of these factoids. The fish is the last one to notice she’s swimming in water.
- The hook in the mouth once one gets to see the water may be painful, but certainly the changes that have been made for women over the span of a few decades are causes for gratitude.
- p.s. I’m grateful for amazon.com who got a new charger to me by overnight delivery.
Away for the weekend, I forgot the charger for my computer, so I’m behind, and squeezing in what I can while I’m still on battery. I’ll be back soon with my gratitude list, and thanks for the ones that have been posted. In the meantime, check out this related link.
Many years ago now, my friend and colleague Barbara McEwen, a physiological psychologist, made me aware that I didn’t fully understand the meaning of “The Survival of the Fittest.” Like so many people, I thought it meant that the winners were the ones who managed to beat the competition and pass on their genetic material. Barb pointed out that cooperation is every bit as important as competition, evoking my reaction of “Of course, why didn’t I know that,”
Sadly, Barb is no longer with us to see the influence of people like her. But, fortunately, scientists are now exploring the implications of humanity’s cooperative side, with an emphasis on human goodness. Right now I’m reading a collection of articles by scientists who are exploring this side of humanity. They don’t deny what we can’t avoid seeing — the competitive side of our heritage. But it’s not the only side. (In fact, right now it seems to me that’s the major battle going on politically and throughout the world: selfish competition vs. compassionate cooperation.}
The book to which I am referring is edited by Dacher Keltner and Jason Marsh,”The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness.”It’s a selection of articles from the magazine “The Greater Good.” It’s one of three magazine I need in my life to offer the positives over the noise and stress of today’s communications.
I’m not going to review the book here, or try to summarize the kinds of things that have been studied. I just want to mention two of them: gratitude and forgiveness.
As for gratitude, I’d like, ironically, to start a competition. Who can provide the longest list of things for which one is grateful.
As for forgiveness, I’m going to break down and summarize, bit by bit, the content of my own “Forgiving One Page at a Time.”
So be prepared, I’m about to start compiling my own gratitude list and share the numbers, not necessarily the content.
Forgiveness will be next.
Tell me, does that sound like a good plan?
I don’t want to take your attention away from my previous blog, and even the one before that, but I’ve managed to get this great photo of “The Library” at Petra from my son. For those of you who have read “Mrs. Job,” or its later update “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses,” I hope it’s of interest to see this Petra landmark. Remember that Petra is basically Edom where the biblical Book of Job is located.
I’ve been working on her, and finally convinced my favorite editor to offer her services to others.
She pays careful attention to grammatical and spelling detail, but more than that she grasps immediately where your writing is going. Sometimes she sees more clearly than I do what my intention is. Furthermore, she keeps at me until I’ve approached perfection.
Majoring in History, she was recruited into the English department at Saint Olaf, graduating cum laude with a double major in 2009. Since then she’s developed experience in a number of venues, currently as an Interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg. She’s now prepared to move on in September to a Master’s program in Public History at the University of York in York, England.
Full Disclosure: I’m talking about my granddaughter. From the time she could hold a book, or even listen to one, she has been an avid reader. From the time she could hold pencil to paper she has been an absorbed writer. In fact, true confession, she rarely set her notebook down, even when holding it was impolite at the dinner table – and we let her get away with it.
If you are self-publishing – or hoping to enlist a traditional publisher – this is a good opportunity to get some professional help at newcomer prices. Right now KJ is offering to work on a sample of your first 1,000 words free of charge. You’ll receive an initial evaluation with the price to be charged if you and she are a good fit.
And, maybe just as important, she’s looking for help in getting started, so working together you could help each other, maybe even for a more special price.
If you would like to work with KJ, send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll connect you.
She is developing a web site even as we speak. I’ll supply the link here on my blog once it’s up.
See amazon.com or Goodreads.
I loved this book from the title to the last page of author explanation! I really appreciated the way Affinito takes the well-known story of Job and gives it clarity and realism through the eyes and voice of his wife. It is the story of Job, yes, but it is also the story of growth of change, of commitment, and of love. This is a book I will return to again and again as the themes are important and universal, the characters alive and real, and the messages profound.
I can hardly wait to get back to “My Father’s House.” I have ‘til 1986 to go.
Since my accident, the process is a little different. Sitting at my computer eventually becomes too painful for my back, so I have to choose one of two ways to relieve it. I can lie down on my love seat with my feet elevated. That works very well, but it’s hard to stay awake. Or I can walk – these days outside in the lovely weather we’ve been having, or indoors on the treadmill. I suspect that’s the healthier method. Either way, it takes time away from writing.
So, why tell you this? It’s my excuse for being so remiss at caring for my blog.
Today, though, there’s something quick I want to tell you. Sometimes when I’m on my back I stay awake enough to read something. Right now it’s “The Compassionate Instinct: The Scientific Roots of Human Goodness” by Dacher Keltner, Jason Marsh, and Jeremy Adam Smith. It’s a collection of articles from the “Greater Good” magazine – the kind of thing I need to read to stay alive in this age of anger, cruelty, and violence.
I’m reading it on my Kindle which creates a bit of a problem, because I still haven’t learned how to cite a quote. But I think it’s OK here to include one short one. In pointing out the other way to understand human beings, not as competitive fighters or fearful victims, but as cooperators as well, they describe the other option as “…not to fight or flee, but to approach and soothe.” Then they go on to provide supportive scientific evidence.
I wish my colleague and friend, Barbara McEwen, were still with us to see this development. I learned from her many years ago that survival depends just as much on cooperation as on winning the battle. A physiological psychologist, her major interest was in oxytocin, a major player in the more positive side of our personalities. Don’t worry, that’s as far as I’m going with this little lecture. Just a chance to remember her.
This plays into the observation of “mirror neurons” which lead us to experience other’s emotions. Last night I took note of my doing just that while watching the end of “Wheel of Fortune.” The winner had solved a tough final puzzle with minimal cues and ended up with a big win, a huge smile, and a happy family hugging him on stage. And I noticed myself. I was feeling and looking as happy as a clam.
That’s the kind of thing we’re capable of. Let’s not forget it in the midst of all the negativity, and the assumption that the best thing to do to protect ourselves is to kill the other guy. I hope there are occasions for each of us when someone else’s joy gives us a happy jolt.
By the way, and totally off the subject. I was reminded again recently in conversation with a friend, of two important rules of therapy: (1) avoid triangles; (2) Use no more words than necessary.
I don’t think I have a triangle in this posting, but maybe I’ve used more words than necessary. I don’t want to spend a lot of time editing, though. While I am still sitting in comfort, I want to get my father through the entry of the United States into WWI.