posted on May, 11 2009 @ 02:05 AM
Feminists did a great deal to widen the choices available to women.
We have more respect, better pay, more recourse to help when abused, and much more freedom.
As a student in the 50s/60s, I was not allowed to study science past year 10. No physics, calculus or chemistry for me, because I was female. The
principal and my parents co-operated in preventing me taking those classes. There was no-one to help me, such discrimination was perfectly legal. Thus
my urge to become a doctor went down the drain.
On leaving school I worked as a tracer. A tracer was a draftman's assistant. Women could not attend the drafting course, instead we had the much
shorter tracing course, and ended up doing the same job for less than half the pay.
After my first pregnancy started showing I could no longer work as a tracer because of being a married women. There was also the notion that a
pregnant body signified having had sex, and was therefore shameful, and must be hidden. Many places refused to employ married women. I pointed out
that I was not married, but that only made things worse.
Alone, and pregnant, I tried to get work through the employment office. Their response to my queries about jobs they had displayed was, "Oh no,
these are for workers". By workers, they meant men. The jobs for women were long hours, some 7am to 7pm, with wages far lower than the men's.
However they refused to put me on their books or refer me to even one of those crap jobs at first, because I had turned up for my interview in a new
woollen fashionable slacksuit. I had to go home and change into a dress before they would give me an interview.
After being abused and tricked out of pay by three different employers I got a job with Hanimex, in Sydney. There I worked on the factory floor for
$30 a week, and wore dowdy clothing and a scarf over my fair hair to escape the attentions of the womanising supervisors, who were all male. If one of
them took a fancy to you, you either screwed him when summoned to his office, or you lost your job. Annoyingly my speed, (trying to work fast was the
only way to survive the monotony,) drew attention to me, and I had to leave.
There was nothing I could do legally about this in those days.
My landlord dropped in one day, a haggard old creep who smelled like Limburger, and offered me $1 a week off my rent if I agreed to screw him whenever
he felt like it. Otherwise he would evict me. I knew of other women in the block who had felt they had no choice to agree, and promised him that we
were all going to tell his wife if he kept this up. This worked, but if it hadn't, we'd have had no legal redress.
Even today, with our position in society so much better than it was, young women tend to be indoctrinated with the notion that looking nice and being
nice is what they are to be judged on, while men tend to be judged on their achievements.
Not all women are cut out to be mothers.
I love mothering, but I'd hate it if that was all I could do.
I expect that if Alice Walker had not been working "fanatically" at Womens' Liberation she would have been working just as hard at something else.
As it was, she, and others like her, have changed Western society to the extent that many will have trouble even imagining what it was like for a
woman like me in the old days.