I was chatting earlier today with a friend about how much the world has changed since we were young. It’s easy to forget about some of the strides our generation made in transforming the lives of women. The reforms for which we fought so hard to achieve were wide-ranging and far-reaching. We were successful in spearheading enormous progress in the areas of education, hiring practices, equal pay legislation, reproductive rights, divorce legislation, access to credit, and other opportunities.
Lest we forget, before 1972 and the passage of Title IX, several colleges and universities allowed only a precious few women into degree programs for “manly occupations” (i.e. most any studies that led to positions of authority and high earnings). Moreover, a number of these institutions of higher learning refused to admit women under any circumstances. Likewise, athletic scholarships to colleges and universities were offered to boys only. Young female athletes were never even considered as recipients for such valuable educational opportunities.
Not since 1973 have most American females, married or unmarried, had to fear legal repercussions for wanting an abortion during their first trimester. Prior to this date, unknown numbers of girls, young and terribly frightened, were forced to contemplate back alley, coat hanger operations to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Now, women have access to safe, medical abortions – assured in most states, at least, for the present.
Furthermore, prior to 1974, women were denied access to credit without obtaining a male cosigner. Females, therefore, couldn’t buy homes, start businesses, or use credit to make purchases without first getting the permission ofdaddies, hubbies, boyfriends, or other males willing to sign on the bottom line and vouch for them.
Although it is easy to forget how entrenched the repression of women was in our culture only a few decades ago, we can’t help but realize how the world has changed. The young women of today have a life and opportunities that we could never have imagined at their age. They have a myriad of careers from which to choose; they can rise to management positions based upon ability and effort; and they are, by legal and other means, in far more equitable marriages.
Yet, just like our generation neglected to thank our own parents for their sacrifices during WWII and the Great Depression, how hard they worked to provide us with treats like hula hoops, Barbie Dolls, trikes, bikes and birthday parties, our battles have largely been overlooked by those who benefited most.
So now, dear boomer sisters, let’s laud ourselves with kudos and one big, universal pat on the back. We’ve transformed the culture and will undoubtedly continue to do so. After all, who would expect less from the feistiest generation ever?!