Thursday, March 16, 2006

National Women's History Month

In honor of National Women's History Month, I'd like to tell you about the changes in women's rights in my lifetime. So far. I'm 56, and I do hope there will be more for me to see.

Most young women probably don't realize how things were for us a few decades ago. I'm not making these things up, so read on:

At one time or another in job interviews, I was legally asked:

Are you married?
Do you have any children?
Do you plan to have any children?
Are you pregnant now?
Do you take birth control?

Men could smoke in the office; women could not.

Women could not wear slacks to work.

Men were addressed as "Mr." - women by their first names.

If a woman was unmarried, she was assumed to be looking for a husband.
If she was not looking for a husband, she was a "Career Girl," or worse, a lesbian.

If a girl got pregnant in high school, she was expelled.

Out-of-wedlock pregnancies were not openly acknowledged. Usually, a girl would be sent by her parents, or a woman would go, to another state, country, or city, where she would wear a wedding band and say that her husband was in Vietnam. Single, unmarried mothers would wear a wedding band and say their husbands were killed in Vietnam.

Abortions were illegal. (Get ready to march in the streets over this one, sisters.)

I was a legal secretary, and when I typed the Notary's acknowledgment for a woman's signature, I had to add the words, "that she read the above document, and it was explained to her."

Women could not get credit in their own name.

Women did not make the same salaries for the same jobs as men (not that women could even get many of the same jobs as men.) Women were told, legally, that was because "men have families to support." Employers cannot use that excuse today, but women still do not make as much money as men in the same jobs.

I'm sure I could think of others, as soon as I hit "Post." For the women of my age group and older, please share your experiences.