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Ten things women couldn't do before the 1970s

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
#1
The following is from the Ms. magazine blog. I know I'm old, but this was within my lifetime. It's pretty amazing when you think about it:



10 Things American Women Could Not Do Before the 1970s


In the 1970s, Irish women could not own their own home or even go to a pub. They could not sit on a jury or refuse to have sex with their husbands. We learned all this in Irish Central’s charming post, “How things have changed – ten things that Irish women could not do in 1970s.” And that made us wonder, what were things like for women in America before the ’70s?
So while we still have a long way to go to secure total equality for women, let’s take a moment to celebrate how far we’ve come. Before the 1970s, an American woman could not:
1. Keep her job if she was pregnant.
Until the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978, women could be fired from their workplace for being pregnant.
2. Report cases of sexual harassment in the workplace.
The first time that a court recognized sexual harassment in the workplace was in 1977 and it wasn’t until 1980 that sexual harassment was officially defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
3. Be acknowledged in the Boston Marathon.
Women could not don their running shoes until 1972!
4. Get a credit card.
Until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act in 1974, women were not able to apply for credit. In 1975, the first women’s bank was opened.
5. Refuse to have sex with her husband.
The mid 70s saw most states recognize marital rape and in 1993 it became criminalized in all 50 states. Nevertheless, marital rape is still often treated differently to other forms of rape in some states even today.
6. Compete as a boxer in the Olympics.
It wasn’t until the 2012 London Olympics that women could compete in boxing in the Olympics. This was marked with the amazing victory by Britain’s Nicola Adams.
7. Get a divorce with some degree of ease.
Before the No Fault Divorce law in 1969, spouses had to show the faults of the other party, such as adultery, and could easily be overturned by recrimination.
8. Celebrate International Women’s Day.
In 1980 President Carter declared one week in March to be National Women’s History Week, including International Women’s Day on March 8th.
9. Have a legal abortion in most states.
The Roe v. Wade case in 1973 protected a woman’s right to abortion until viability.
10. Read Ms. Magazine!
Ms. was launched as a sample inset in New York Magazine in 1971.
 
#2
1. Keep her job if she was pregnant.Until the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978, women could be fired from their workplace for being pregnant.
"Could be fired" isn't the same as WILL be fired.

If a women WILL be fired when she's pregnat, then indeed she "could not do" that while working. But if she could in some job, but not other jobs, then she practially "could do" that. Just not guaranteed in all jobs.

(I wasn't here in the 60's and 70's so I don't know if a women WILL be fired for getting pregnant. But my recollection of the snipits I heard, it was not true in all jobs)

The same for many of the bullet points. Women "could do" quite a few of those 10 things. Just not guaranteed to do so in all circumstance.
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
#3
The point is, abc, that is was legal to fire a woman for being pregnant before. This isn't the case today, as it shouldn't be. I think this is a positive development, don't you? :smile:
 
#4
The point is, abc, that is was legal to fire a woman for being pregnant before. This isn't the case today, as it shouldn't be. I think this is a positive development, don't you? :smile:
I totally agree there's a lot of positive development in women's right since the 70's. Heck, there's a lot of positive development since the 80's too!

But my beef with is the gross exaggeration implied by the catchy title "... could not do".

It's plain wrong. And it also over-shadows some of the REAL "could not do" such as boxing in the Olympics (or for the later developments such as women serving in combat, which is institutionalized discrimination)
 

Jenny

Angel Diva
#5
Women weren't allowed to run in the Olympic marathon until 1984, either. I think the arguments were much the same as the recent ski jump arguments, too. It's tough being so fragile and dainty, isn't it?

I'm just enough younger than you, Ski Diva, that many of these things weren't on my radar. Title IX was passed at just the right time for me, so other than playing on the boy's basketball team in 7th grade, I've never really known that I wasn't able to do what I wanted to do. And they got a girls' team the next year, because the Athletic Director hated us being on the boys' team.

I DO remember the Olympic marathon, though!
 

bounceswoosh

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#6
My German mother married my US father and they both moved to the US in the early 70s (must have been - I was born in 77). She was absolutely floored that she couldn't get her own credit card without her husband co-signing for her. Women in Germany were far more independent at the time (now?) - a fact she hammered home with many such stories.

Dad remembers being pleasantly surprised, while living in Germany I guess in the late 60s to early 70s, that the local women would make eye contact while walking past him. He reports that US women tended to lower their eyes and look away.
 

bounceswoosh

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#7
Women weren't allowed to run in the Olympic marathon until 1984, either. I think the arguments were much the same as the recent ski jump arguments, too. It's tough being so fragile and dainty, isn't it?

I'm just enough younger than you, Ski Diva, that many of these things weren't on my radar. Title IX was passed at just the right time for me, so other than playing on the boy's basketball team in 7th grade, I've never really known that I wasn't able to do what I wanted to do. And they got a girls' team the next year, because the Athletic Director hated us being on the boys' team.

I DO remember the Olympic marathon, though!
Fragile. Dainty. Two words absolutely no one has ever used in conjunction with me =)

A high school classmate went to the same college I did. He was upset at Title IX because, as a result of it, the college cancelled the men's wrestling program. It was clear to me at the time that the blame rested with the college. Now, though, I see it as more complicated. The budget has to come from somewhere. As a society, we're not at a place where women's sports bring in the viewership that men's do.
 
#8
A high school classmate went to the same college I did. He was upset at Title IX because, as a result of it, the college cancelled the men's wrestling program. It was clear to me at the time that the blame rested with the college. Now, though, I see it as more complicated. The budget has to come from somewhere. As a society, we're not at a place where women's sports bring in the viewership that men's do.
High school and college sport isn't there to produce high caliber entertainers (male wrestler or pro football players). Those program were "suppose" to offer opportunity for young athlets to train to be their best in their own discipline, male or female.

As such, women should have equal opportunity at those programs. And yes, even if at the expense of what men USED TO have when they were the monopoly. If I maybe so bold to declear, (some of) the money has to come from reduced men's program!

Let's face it. You and I working in the office IS taking the spot a man would have if we're not allowed to work like some long time ago. So what? You and I are here to stay in the work place.
 

Jenny

Angel Diva
#9
Yeah, if people are using fragile and dainty about me then there's definitely a *tone* involved. That's why I like them so much!

I still kick myself every once in a while because I didn't buy the tshirt that said "delicate flower" on the front. We actually use that phrase from time to time, just because it makes us laugh . . .
 

num

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#10
High school and college sport isn't there to produce high caliber entertainers (male wrestler or pro football players). Those program were "suppose" to offer opportunity for young athlets to train to be their best in their own discipline, male or female.

As such, women should have equal opportunity at those programs. And yes, even if at the expense of what men USED TO have when they were the monopoly. If I maybe so bold to declear, (some of) the money has to come from reduced men's program!

Let's face it. You and I working in the office IS taking the spot a man would have if we're not allowed to work like some long time ago. So what? You and I are here to stay in the work place.
True, whenever rules/funding/whatever changes to equalize what had been an unlevel playing field, those who previously had the advantage end up losing things, and I acknowledge that it can suck for them. I think it's important to remember that their loss isn't the result of women gaining rights/funding/whatever, but that it's the result of the rights/funding/whatever having been imbalanced in the first place.
 

bounceswoosh

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#11
High school and college sport isn't there to produce high caliber entertainers (male wrestler or pro football players). Those program were "suppose" to offer opportunity for young athlets to train to be their best in their own discipline, male or female.

As such, women should have equal opportunity at those programs. And yes, even if at the expense of what men USED TO have when they were the monopoly. If I maybe so bold to declear, (some of) the money has to come from reduced men's program!

Let's face it. You and I working in the office IS taking the spot a man would have if we're not allowed to work like some long time ago. So what? You and I are here to stay in the work place.
Right. I agree completely. What I meant to say is: it's simplistic to blame Title IX, and it's also simplistic to blame the school. When budgets need to be reworked, inevitably someone loses out. That doesn't mean I think the budget shouldn't have been reworked. But if women's sports were more compelling to society at large, there would be more budget for women's sports naturally.
 

RachelV

Administrator
Staff member
#12
Right. I agree completely. What I meant to say is: it's simplistic to blame Title IX, and it's also simplistic to blame the school. When budgets need to be reworked, inevitably someone loses out. That doesn't mean I think the budget shouldn't have been reworked. But if women's sports were more compelling to society at large, there would be more budget for women's sports naturally.

Oh man -- this gets so much more complicated so fast, though. What % of women's sports being less compelling is due to having no recruiting, mediocre coaching, etc etc etc? Of course second rate programs are going to be less compelling, and how much of that is due to all the structural sexism garbage that's still floating around?

There are totally examples of women's sports being just as / more compelling than their male counterparts. The UCONN women's basketball team in the early-mid 90's was INSANE. Everyone loved them. Lady Huskies t-shirts were probably 75% of the state wardrobe during those years. ;)

In summary: I have no answers and this whole topic really gets to me.
 
#14
But if women's sports were more compelling to society at large, there would be more budget for women's sports naturally.
Oh man -- this gets so much more complicated so fast, though. What % of women's sports being less compelling is due to having no recruiting, mediocre coaching, etc etc etc? Of course second rate programs are going to be less compelling, and how much of that is due to all the structural sexism garbage that's still floating around?

There are totally examples of women's sports being just as / more compelling than their male counterparts. The UCONN women's basketball team in the early-mid 90's was INSANE. Everyone loved them. Lady Huskies t-shirts were probably 75% of the state wardrobe during those years. ;)
I'm not sure I agree with you on what defines "compelling" with regard to women's sports.

As I mentioned earlier, I do not believe the purpose of supporting women sport at the grass root level is to produce a few professional athletes so we can watch them on TV and buy their autographed t-shirts.

Personally, I believe having young girls participating in sport at a semi-serious level is to empower school aged girls so they can better compete more effectively with boys on equal footing, which later on in their life/career will be extremely important. Once out of school into the work place, women are judged largely for their hard work, their ambition and results. There's no women's division on the corporate ladder!

Of all people, I would have expect this group of divas to particularly aware of the importance of that aspect of sports. How often do we see new divas proclaim skiing give them the new found confidence, freedom and power? Even though we all know we won't be the next Lindsy Von, it doesn't make our participation on skiing any less "compelling"!

(In addition to that, there's the obvious health benefits of sport as well)

I think it's important to remember that their loss isn't the result of women gaining rights/funding/whatever, but that it's the result of the rights/funding/whatever having been imbalanced in the first place.
And our society realize restoring the balance is on the whole better for the society at large, even if some individual may have to lose the privileges they've been having under the imbalance. The mere fact of mobilizing 50% of the population to contribute their brain power (and muscle power) is pretty obvious.
 
#16
I think Montreal in the 70's was more forward thinking on women's issues. I was an alter girl in Catholic church in the 60's. I've still never seen that in the US. My first communion, in 1968 we received into our hand and I didn't see that in the US until around 1980. Women were in lay leadership roles in our parrish in the 1960's. On the other side of the coin, I knew girls who had safe, medical abortions in 1972. I also remember a Social Studies teacher making a negative comment about women's role in society (1972). I told my VERY traditional mother and she blew a gasket, confronted him, and he invited her to debate him live in class. She beat his butt big time! I also remember having to complete a wrestling unit in PE. I hated it! I didn't want to roll around on a matt with another sweaty girl. To be fair, I was small and always losing the match so that might have been part of the reason I preferred badminton. I always won at badminton. Truthfully, I grew up feeling pretty equal to the guys. I even beat my cousins in a "who can pee higher up the wall competition?" I was more flexible!
 

bounceswoosh

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#17
I'm not sure I agree with you on what defines "compelling" with regard to women's sports.

As I mentioned earlier, I do not believe the purpose of supporting women sport at the grass root level is to produce a few professional athletes so we can watch them on TV and buy their autographed t-shirts.

Personally, I believe having young girls participating in sport at a semi-serious level is to empower school aged girls so they can better compete more effectively with boys on equal footing, which later on in their life/career will be extremely important. Once out of school into the work place, women are judged largely for their hard work, their ambition and results. There's no women's division on the corporate ladder!

Of all people, I would have expect this group of divas to particularly aware of the importance of that aspect of sports. How often do we see new divas proclaim skiing give them the new found confidence, freedom and power? Even though we all know we won't be the next Lindsy Von, it doesn't make our participation on skiing any less "compelling"!

(In addition to that, there's the obvious health benefits of sport as well)


And our society realize restoring the balance is on the whole better for the society at large, even if some individual may have to lose the privileges they've been having under the imbalance. The mere fact of mobilizing 50% of the population to contribute their brain power (and muscle power) is pretty obvious.

I think we're talking past each other.
 

Kimmyt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#18
As I mentioned earlier, I do not believe the purpose of supporting women sport at the grass root level is to produce a few professional athletes so we can watch them on TV and buy their autographed t-shirts.
No, but having female athlete role models (professional or not) will help inspire young female athletes at the grassroots level. They are not mutually exclusive. Inspiration comes from that which we may not be able to achieve, as a child at least. Most of us as adults don't take on skiing thinking we can go to the Olympics, but if I had started ski racing as a child I probably would have my female ski role models and autographed posters on the wall.

In fact, now that I think about it, I only dabbled a bit in sports as a child, and I can't think of ever seeing or hearing of professional women's sports. Little boys say when they grow up they want to be a baseball player, but little girls can't even do that. Having a heavier media presence of women's sports would enable a little girl to be inspired to do some sport that maybe she wouldn't have been interested in before. How many little girls in the 80s were inspired to take up Gymnastics because of watching Mary Lou Retton at the Olympics? Those little girls probably got a lot of confidence from doing a sport that they saw their role model do on the worldwide stage....
 
#20
A quick nod of appreciation here by me, to my late, great mom, who was at the forefront of women’s rights in the workplace in the 1950's. The 1950's - when most women her age (and younger!) were at home baking cookies for their kids!

She fought for - and eventually WON - the right to have “revolving charges” (which is what eventually became known as credit cards) in her OWN name, based on HER income (which always exceeded that of my dad).

She rose to become CFO of an upstart (and wildly successful) corporation, having taken the CPA exam at age 48, on advice and urging of her boss (the CEO). Which she passed.

She hit the glass ceiling - hard - and fought for equitable salary.

I was a latch-key kid long before that expression was even coined - and darn proud of it > AND her! She was a true “pioneer!”

Thanks, mom. RIP, gone almost 10 years now.
 

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