Tuesday, August 17, 2010


70s feminists Pictures, Images and Photos

In 1970, residuals from the tumultuous sixties still lingered, especially in traditionally established institutions. And what could be more traditional and established than the US military? I married an Air Force man, and almost immediately found myself in the midst of wonderful grounds for extending the protests that were so much fun and exhilarating from the previous decade. I wasn't exactly radical, but I definitely had not escaped the influence of the feminist movement which, not surprisingly, had tremendous appeal for me.


"Dora," he called out authoritatively. "Is there sugar in my coffee?" Silently, Dora, my grandmother, stopped washing dishes, walked to the table, where the sugar jar rested in plain sight and easy reach of my grandfather. Dora docilely and silently put a teaspoon of sugar in his coffee...then stirred it for him!!! This ritual, amongst others even more symbolic of man's domination, took place several times a day in the home where I grew up.

If you had known Dora, you'd know that docile is not a word one would ever associate with her. She was feisty, almost aggressive and she was not short of words, which she never seemed to filter or delete due to possible offensiveness. She was outspoken and didn't seem to care what response her opinions elicited.

"Get yourself a good education, so you never have to depend on a man to support you," was her repeated and greatest advice for me. Now, I see it as a reflection of her own life's regrets. An intelligent, efficient, energetic woman, who maybe completed the 3rd grade, knew how restrictions were imposed on a woman with few resources. Yet, in spite of her self-assured personality, Dora never questioned why she should sweeten and stir coffee for a perfectly able man.


"Consciousness raising groups aimed to get a better understanding of women's oppressions by bringing women together to discuss and analyze their lives, without interference from the presence of men."

Back in the 70's I attended numerous consciousness raising groups. Concurrently, I read several books on assertiveness and consequently, not only was my feminist conscience raised but my audacity became grandiose. If ever there was a gesture that demonstrated anger, rebellion, determination, political awareness and wisdom it was this - I burned my bra, metaphorically speaking. I stopped wearing one. At the time, it was the symbol of true feminist conviction. (I can be nothing, if not honest, so I must tell you that no one even noticed my act of revolt because I was skinny as a rail and as bosomy as a twelve year old boy. Now, if I did that today, I suppose many would find the act revolt-ing.)

To my husband's dismay, since he was constantly just under the wire of being in trouble due to my exploits, I persisted in organizing and belonging to groups that were diametrically (I thought) opposed to the status quo in the Air Force. One of the highlights of my anti-establishment days was the organizing of a consciousness raising group ...for men. A friend and I thought it was a great idea to introduce men to our cause and we actually got one man to attend. He was a young airman, who I thought kept staring at my bra-less though boyish bosom and agreed with everything we said.

I don't know how much, if any, effect we had in making the Air Force a less sexist place for what they accurately and distastefully call "dependents", but at least I know I fought hard while I was there.

The Air Force man I married happened to also be a Latino man, reared by Latino parents, who ingrained in him some Latino values that didn't go with my new advanced ideals. Though I don't think sexism is necessarily strongest in men of the Latino persuasion, my most challenging battle within my feminist quest was in my own home. Luckily (for him), hubby never expected me to stir his coffee. This battle actually turned out to be easy, and hubby embraced feminist principles without much resistance. Unfortunately, he still forgets every so often that a woman is not biologically designed and destined to clean house.


I think the battle of the sexes still persists, though on a different level, but much work still remains. Yet, I know progress has occurred and I am happy to see women in many roles that were previously restricted to men, as well as in roles that are specific to women - like being a stay at home mom. Freedom is about being able to make choices. Most of all, I am glad that my young sisters seem more comfortable with their gender, relaxed, freer and more confident that they can and should do whatever is within their capacity not only as women but as human beings.

Suffragette Pictures, Images and Photos

Even if your choice is to be conservative, I suppose all of us women can agree to be grateful to the suffragettes that started the struggle which culminated in women's right to vote. Women's Suffrage day is on August 26th marking the 90th anniversary of women's vote.
It was after reading an article by Gail Collins of the New York Times, that I thought of writing about the plight of women and my own minor contribution to the current level of liberation.
What I found most interesting and funny in her article, "My Favorite August", was the story she told about Harry Burn, a 24 year old Tennessee member of the House who was staunchly against the amendment giving women the right to vote. However, he received a letter from his mother prior to submitting his vote, which determined the fate of the amendment. On August 18th, 1930 Mr. Burn "jumped up in the Tennessee Legislature, waving his mom's note from home". The letter had advised him to "be a good boy and help" the suffragettes. "I know that a mother's advice is always the safest for a boy to follow," said Mr. Burn in explanation for his sudden political change of heart.
This story reinforces for me what I knew all along - that it is important to include men in the fight for all freedoms, and that a woman's influence is more powerful than most men suspect. (wink)


  1. Interesting post! The subtle differences still exists but am amazed that even with the times, travel and education certain duties or actions are still done by us women and the men are still afraid to handle it!

  2. Reminds me of the old saying, "she rules with a iron hand in a kidd glove". We owe much to the suffragettes but it was the women of the 1960's and 70's who recognized the problem couldn't be successfully fought legally - but rather knew that society's consciousness had to be change and fought the good fight from that angle and made huge strides. I guess the August of 1930 is every woman's favorite August - but let's hope a new favorite date of any month is right around the corner.


  3. we the "weak sex" are in fact, the strongest one: we can multitask, our pain threshold is higher, our senses are sharper and our instincts wiser...yet, some women confuse equality with acting like men. Your post is a good reminder of the freedom we have now and how we should use it. To never depend on a man but to colaborate.

  4. "kept staring at my...boyish bosom..."

    When It comes to bosoms, I say vive la difference. The only kind of breast I don't like is the one that that was artificially "enhanced."

    My wife has either been our only wage-earner or else our primary wage-earner for nearly all of our 39 years together. In return, I do almost everything else. I find it quite natural to get up from the table to get things for her and to pamper her in other ways that many people would associate with male oppression if she were to do them for me. Yet, I don't feel the least bit oppressed because waiting on her is what I WANT to do. If I were a woman, maybe I would feel very differently.