hello welcome back to the people’s
historian. I’m Jason Kishineff each episode we’ll
read about 30 minutes of a history book adult history book my high school a
three book and we’re reading a people’s history of the United States well in
chapter 19 just about to start won’t you join us let’s dig in Helen Keller had
said in 1911 we vote what does that mean and Emma Goldman around the same time
our modern fetishes universal suffrage after 1920 women were voting as men did
and their subordinate condition had hardly changed right after women got the
vote the measure of their social progress can be seen in an advice column
written by Dorothea Dix that appeared in newspapers all over the country the
woman should not merely be a domestic domestic Drudge she said a man’s wife is
the show window where he exhibits the measure of his achievement the biggest
deals are put across over luncheon tables we made it dinner the people who
can push our fortunes the woman who cultivates a circle of worthwhile people
who belongs to clubs who makes herself interesting and agreeable is a help to
her husband Robert and Helen Lind studying Muncie Indiana in the late 20s
noted the importance of good looks and dress in the assessment of women also
they found that when men spoke frankly among themselves they were likely to
speak of women as creatures pure and morally better than men but as
relatively impractical emotional unstable given to prejudice easily hurt
and largely incapable of facing facts or doing hard thinking a writer in early
1930 who sting the beauty business started off a magazine
article with the sentence the average American woman has 16 square feet of
skin he went on to say that there were 40,000 beauty shops in the country and
that 2 billion dollars was spent each year on cosmetics for women but this was
insufficient American women are not yet spending even 1/5 of the amount
necessary to improve their appearance he then gave an itemized list of the annual
beauty needs of every woman 12 on oil treatments 52 facials 26 highbrow clubs
etc it seems that women have best been able to make their first escape from the
prison of wife leanness motherhood femininity housework beautification
isolation when their services have been desperately needed whether in industry
or in war or in social movements each time practically pulled the woman out of
her prison in a kind of work parole program the attempt was made to push her
back once the need was over in this lid two women struggle for change World War
two had brought more women than ever before out of the home into work by 1960
36 percent of all women 16 and older 23 million women worked for paid wages but
although 43 percent of women was school-aged children worked there were
nursery schools for only 2% the rest had to work things out for themselves
women were 50% of the voters but even by 1967 they held 4% of the state
legislative seats and 2% of the judgeships the median income of the
working women woman was about 1/3 that of a man and attitudes toward women did
not seem to have changed much since the 20s there was no overt anti feminism and
Society in 1964 wrote feminist and sociologist Alice Rossi not because sex
equality has been achieved but because there is practically no feminist spark
left among American women in the civil rights movement of the 60s the signs of
a collective stirring began to appear women took the place that they
customarily took in social movements in the front lines as privates not generals
in the Office of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Atlanta a
Spelman College student named Ruby Doris Smith who had been jailed during the
sit-ins expressed her anger at the way women were relegated to the routine
office work and she was joined in her protest by two white women in SNCC
Sandra Hayden and Mary King the man in SNCC listen to them respectfully read
the position paper they had put together asserting their rights but did not do
very much Ella Baker a veteran fighter from Harlem now organizing in the South
knew the pattern I knew from the beginning that as a woman an older woman
and a group of ministers who were accustomed to having women largely as
supporters there was no place for me to come and have into a leadership role
nevertheless women played a crucial role in those early dangerous years of
organizing in the south and we looked on with admiration many of these older
women like Ella Baker and Amelia pointed in Selma Alabama and mama dolly in
Albany Georgia younger women Gloria Richardson in Maryland and now ponder
and Mississippi were not only active but leaders women of all ages demonstrated
went to jail mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer a sharecropper and
rule Mississippi became legendary as
organizer and speaker she sang hymns she walked picket lines
with her familiar lip as a child she contracted polio she roused people to
excitement at mass meetings I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired
around the same time white middle class professional women were beginning to
speak up a pioneering early book strong and influential was Betty Ford Anne’s
The Feminine Mystique just what was the problem that has no name what were the
words women used when they tried to express it
sometimes a woman would say I feel empty somehow incomplete or she would say I
feel as if I don’t exist sometimes a tired feeling I get so angry
with the children it scares me I felt like crying without any reason for Dan
wrote out of her experience as a middle-class housewife but what she
spoke about touched something inside all women the problem lay buried unspoken
for many years in the minds of American women
it was a strange stirring a sense of dissatisfaction a yearning that women
suffered in the middle of the 20th century in the United States each
suburban wife struggled with it alone as she made the beds shopped for groceries
Matt slipcover material ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children
chauffeured Cub Scouts and brownies lay beside her husband at night she was
afraid to ask even of herself the silent question this
is all but on an April morning in 1959 I heard a mother of four having coffee
with four other mothers in a suburban development 15 miles from New York say
in a tone of quiet desperation the problem and the others knew without
words that she was not talking about a problem with her husband or her children
or her home suddenly if they realized they all shared the same problem the
problem that has no name they began hesitantly to talk about it
later after they had picked up their children at nursery school and taking
them home to nap two of the women cried in sheer relief Justin though they were
not alone the mystique did furred and spoke of was the image of the woman his
mother wife living through her husband through her children giving up her own
dreams for that she concluded the only way for a woman has for a man to find
herself to know herself as a person is by creative work of her own in the
summer of 1964 and McComb Mississippi at a Freedom House a civil rights
headquarters where people worked and lived together the women went on strike
against the men who wanted them to cook and make beds while the men went around
in cars organizing organizing the stirring that Fernan spoke of was true
of women everywhere it seemed by 1969 women were not more 40% of the entire
labor force of the United States but a substantial number of these were
secretaries cleaning women elementary schoolteachers sales women waitresses
and nurses one out of every three working women had a
husband earning less than $5,000 a year one of the women who didn’t have jobs
they worked very hard at home but this wasn’t looked on as work because in a
capitalist society or perhaps in any modern society where things and people
are bought and sold for money if work is not paid for not given a money value it
is considered valueless women began to think more about this fact in the 1960s
and Margaret Benton wrote about it the political economy of women’s liberal
liberation women doing housework for people outside the modern economic
system therefore they were like serfs or peasants
she said the women who worked in the typical woman’s job secretary
receptionist typist sales person cleaning woman nurse were treated to the
full range of humiliations that men and subordinate positions faced at work plus
another set of humiliations stemming from being a woman chives that their
mental processes sexual jokes and aggression invisibility accept his
sexual objects cold demands for more efficiency a commercial guide to
clerical time standards printed a question and answer column
question I’m a business man and my secretary seems to move entirely too
slowly how many times a minute should she be able to open and close a file
drawer answer exactly 25 times times for other open and close operations our
point zero four minutes for opening or closing that folder and point zero to
six minutes for opening a standard Center desk
or if you’re worried about her chair activity clocker against these standards
got up from her chair point zero three three minutes turn in swivel chair point
zero six nine point zero zero nine minutes when somebody actually vote
something like that a woman factory worker and New Bedford
Massachusetts in nearly 70s and a medium-sized corporation whose
president’s dividends from the corporation in nineteen seventy amounted
to three hundred and twenty five thousand dollars
wrote in an organizing newspaper that ninety percent of the workers in her
department were women but all the supervisors were men a few years ago I
was suspended for three days from work because my children were still young and
I had to take time off work when they were sick they want people who keep
quiet we owe on one another and our very good little robots the fact that many
have to take nerve pills before starting their day and a week doesn’t go by that
there aren’t two or three people who break down and cry doesn’t mean a thing
to them she added but times are changing and from now on more people will speak
out and demand from their so-called bosses that they be treated the way the
bosses themselves would like to be treated
times indeed were a change in around nineteen sixty-seven women in the
various movements civil rights students for a Democratic Society anti-war groups
began meeting as women and in early 1968 and a women’s anti-war meeting in
Washington hundreds of women carrying torches paraded to the Arlington
National Cemetery and staged the burial of traditional womanhood at this point
and later to there was some disagreement among women and even more
meant on whether women should battle on specifically women’s issues or just take
part in general movements against racism or capitalism but the idea of a feminist
focus group in the fall of 1968 a group called radical women attracted national
attention when they protested the selection of Miss America which they
called an image that oppresses women they all threw bras girdles curlers
false eyelashes wigs and other things they called women’s garbage into a
freedom trash can a sheep was crowned Miss America more
important people were beginning to speak of women’s liberation well I wish they
went into that sentence for a sheep was crowned Miss America
give me an literally right but then howard zinn would be insulting
the person that was crowned some of the New York radical women shortly afterward
formed which women’s international terrorist conspiracy from hell Wow and
its members dressed as witches appeared suddenly on the floor of the New York
Stock Exchange a leaflet put out by which in New York said which lives and
laughs in every woman she is the free part of each of us beneath the shy
smiles the acquiescence to absurd male domination to make up our flesh
suffocating clothes are sick society demands
there is no joining which if you are a woman and dare to look within yourself
you are a witch you make your own rules which in Washington DC protested at the
United Fruit Company for the hope that one name comes up again for the
corporation’s activities in the third world and its treatment of its women
office workers in Chicago had protested the firing of a radical feminist teacher
named Marlene Dixon poor women black women expressed the universal problem of
women in their own way in 1964 Robert Coles interviewed a black woman from the
south recently moved to Boston the spoke of the desperation of her life the
difficulty of finding happiness to me having a baby inside me is the only time
I’m really alive that was her talking on me
without talking specifically about their problems as women many women among the
poor did it they had always done quietly organized neighborhood people live right
in justices to get needed services in the mid-1960s ten thousand black people
in a community in Atlanta called Vine City joined together to help one another
they set up a thrift shop a nursery a medical clinic monthly family suppers a
newspaper a family counseling service one of the organizers helen howard told
girdle earner about it i organized this neighborhood organization two men and
six ladies started it that was a hard poll a lot of people joined in later for
about five months we had meetings pretty near every night we learned how to work
with other people a lot of people were afraid to really do anything you were
afraid to go to the city hall or ask for anything you didn’t even ask the
landlord for anything you were afraid of him then we had meetings and then we
weren’t afraid so much anymore the way we got this playground we
blocked off the street wouldn’t let anything come through we wouldn’t let
the trolley bus come through the whole neighborhood was in it took record
players and danced it went on for a week we didn’t get arrested there was too
many of us so then the city put up this playground for the kids a woman named
Patricia Robinson wrote a pamphlet called poor black woman in which she
connected the plot problems of women with the need for basic social change rebellion by poor black women the bottom
of a class hierarchy hero2 for not too heretofore not discussed places the
question of what kind of society will the poor black woman demanded struggle
for already she demands the right to have birth control like middle-class
black and white women she is aware that it takes to to oppress and that she and
other poor people no longer are submitting to a present in this case
genocide she allows herself what to have nots in the wider world than their
revolutionary struggles she has been forced by historical conditions to
withdraw the children from male dominance and to educate and support
them herself in this very process male Authority and exploitation are seriously
weakened further she realizes that the children will be used as all poor
children have been used throughout history as poorly paid mercenaries
fighting to keep or put an elite group in power through these steps she has
begun to question aggressive male domination and the class society which
enforces it capitalism in 1970 Dorothea Bolden a laundry worker
in Atlanta and mother of six told why in 1968 she began organizing women doing
housework into the National Domestic Workers Union she said I don’t think
women should have a voice in making decisions in their community for
betterment did I say I don’t think I think women
should have a voice in making decisions in their community for betterment
because this woman in the slum is scuffling hard and she’s got a very good
intelligent mind to do things and she’s been overlooked for too many years I
think she should have a voice women tennis players organized a woman fought
to be a jockey won her case became the first woman jockey women artists
picketed the Whitney Museum charging sex discrimination in a sculptors show women
journalists picketed the Gridiron Club in Washington which excluded women by
the start of 1974 Women’s Studies programs existed at 78 institutions and
about 2,000 courses on women were being offered at about 500 campuses women’s
magazines and newspapers began appearing locally and nationally and books on
women’s history and the movements came out in such numbers that some bookstores
had special sections for them the very jokes on television some sympathetic
some caustic showed how national was the effect of the movement certain
television commercials which women felt humiliated them were eliminated after
protests in 1967 after lobbying my women’s groups President Johnson signed
an executive order banning discrimination in federally connected
employment and in the years that followed women’s groups demanded that
this be enforced over a thousand suits were initiated by now the National
Organization for Women formed in 1966 against US corporations charging sex
discrimination the right to abortion became a major issue actually let’s stop
there we’ll talk about the right to abortion in the next episode thank you
for joining me I hope you’ve enjoyed reading please hit that like and
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Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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