What will women do with the ’70s?

On Aug. 26, 1920, women of the United States won the right to vote. On that date, 50 years ago, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified by the last state and became the law of the land. This newspaper, founded 12 years earlier by Mary Baker Eddy, advocated ratification. Today, in saluting that milestone in civil rights, the Monitor asks men and women of different minds about this social revolution and the emerging role of women. Here’s what some of them are saying.

Sen. Warren G. Magnuson (D) of Washington

“Alexis de Tocqueville, summarizing his study of democracy in America in 1830, wrote that ‘the trend toward equality is the most inexorable force in all of history’....

“The victory of the suffragettes is now half a century behind us. Yet the implications of their struggle may be more significant today than at any time in our nation’s history. For the suffrage movement was not merely an effort to gain the legal rights of citizenship. It was a movement to gain the human rights of individuality and the right to free one’s personal development from statutory limitations and archaic social customs.

“It is this struggle for the human right to individuality that is the lesson and legacy of the suffrage movement today, not only for women, but for all elements of our society. To foster individuality, to allow true equality of opportunity among sexes, races, and generations may be a difficult and socially disruptive task. Certainly it will test our humanity and our ideals more rigorously than past struggles to extend the franchise. Yet to fail in this task ... would be to leave unfulfilled the promise of equality - not mere legal equality, but human equality - upon which this nation and this civilization are founded.”

Elizabeth Duncan Koontz, director Women’s Bureau, United States Department of Labor

“Freedom of choice, Americans say, is a basic right due every citizen. But they have not given it to Negroes, or to Indians, or to other minority groups. And they have not given it to women.

“Women are not asking for control of the world, or of the country. They ask only for control of their own lives. How is this possible as long as women are subject to the restraints imposed by limited educational opportunities, by barriers to their employment in responsible, well-paying jobs, by lack of supportive services such as day care for their children, and by attitudes that perpetuate discrimination?

“This is what the women’s liberation movement is all about. It has been going on since women began agitating for the right to vote. It has been part of the long struggle for the Equal Pay Act and the laws prohibiting sex discrimination in employment. It would be a mistake to deny the validity of the women’s movement or to underestimate the mutual concern shared by many less vocal women with the more vocal groups.”

Dr. Margaret Mead, anthropologist

“The present agitation for a changed position of women is the reflection of the population explosion and our recognition that women will no longer be asked to give the whole of their lives to reproduction and care of children. We will be asking women to have fewer children, and we will be asking many women to have no children. In return, society will have to find a place for women, as well as for men, in which they will contribute as individuals rather than as producers of the next generation. As women have been more involved in reproduction and in the care of the next generation, their position will have to change more radically. But for many men also, this change will herald the opportunity to be individuals as well as, or instead of, progenitors.”

Writer Gloria Steinem

“The real revolution is humanist, not feminist, but feminism is a necessary stage along the way. It is all part of a larger egalitarian movement. All the groups that have formed cheap labor pools in this country ­ Blacks, Mexicans, women, etc. - are now refusing to perform those functions anymore.

“Maybe 200 years from now, historians will look back on this era as the time when the human animal stopped dividing itself up according to visible differences of sex, skin color, etc. The family has changed and will change much more. Our values will go through a shaky time of change from external to internal, but the total revolution is our only chance for survival.”

Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D) of New York: from her forthcoming book, “Unbought and Unbossed” (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, October, 1970)

“The cheerful old darky on the plantation and the happy little homemaker are equally stereotypes drawn by prejudice. White America is beginning to be able to admit that it carries racial prejudice in its heart, and that understanding marks the beginning of the end of racism. But prejudice against women is still acceptable because it is invisible….

“More than half the population of the United States is female, but women occupy only 2 percent of the managerial positions. They have not yet even reached the level of tokenism….

I think one of my major uses is as an example to the women of our country, to show them that if a woman has ability, stamina, organizational skill, and a knowledge of the issues she can win public office. And if I can do it, how much more hope should that give to white women, who have only one handicap?”

Mayor John V. Lindsay, New York

“The next few years will witness a social revolution in the status of women. It is long overdue.

“The nation’s business - in politics, arts, and commerce - can only benefit from the full use of the energies and talents of more than half the population.”

Cartoonist/lecturer Al Capp

“I think more liberation is needed for everyone - others as well as women. And if injustice is stacked toward women because they are women, something should be done about it; it should be rectified.

“But if women would spare us the violence and rage and nonsense, they might be able to weigh the privileges of being a woman against some of the demands they are making. But when Gloria Steinem and people like her say they aren’t getting equal pay, I agree they should fight for it.”

Rep. Martha W. Griffiths (D) of Michigan

“What women have been asking for more than a half century is not special privilege. It is only that they be treated as persons under the law and entitled to the full protection of that law. In a new world in which women are playing an increasingly greater role, contributing to all phases of the economy, paying taxes, and paying into pension funds as workers, working wives, widows, and supporters of families, our system of justice no longer can afford to deny equal legal rights. The same legal discriminations that this country has been trying so desperately to remove for all racial and ethnic minorities must be removed for women also.

“It is time that a woman be able to hold any job for which her intelligence, her training, and her experience prepare her; that she be paid equal pay for equal work; that the money she is paying into pension plans equally protect her husband and family just as they protect the family of the male wage earner; that she be permitted to buy property and engage in business the same as any man; that she be permitted to study in state­supported institutions of higher learning unrestricted by arbitrary quota systems. Indeed, it is time that justice prevail to protect the woman and her family in our society.”

Sen. Edmund S. Muskie (D) of Maine

“On Aug. 26, the men and women of America will observe the 50th anniversary of the amendment to the Constitution which gave women the right to vote. Through their wise use of the ballot, women have demonstrated that this right should have been inherent rather than legislated. Just as women won that right and proved their case, I think they will also obtain:

  • “Equal pay for equal work.
  • “Fairer promotion policies in government, industry, education, and other fields of employment.
  • “Fairer treatment in college admissions.
  • “Abolition of working-hour laws originally intended to protect women but now penalizing them.
  • “More enlightened school counseling which stops directing women away from law, medicine, and science careers.
  • “And finally, a very basic victory: equal respect for their abilities.

“Women have been the objects of discrimination for too long. They deserve the support of all Americans in their move toward true equality.”

Mrs. Dianne G. Feinstein, president of San Francisco City and County Board of Supervisors

“I see a great hope in the emerging role of women. History has been a long time in summoning our sex, and unless we take leadership, society seems destined to self­ destruct. I do not believe that history will await us much longer…. We are now called not only to shape leaders but to be leaders. I feel we are needed, not only at the dinner table, but at the conference table.

“We have only to summon the will to act. The future is not beyond our reach…. I catch a gleam of hope for the world in the women of America.”

Katherine Anne Porter, American writer

“I don’t know what women want now that they haven’t got. What they should work for is to make the relations better between men and women. Men are full of doubts and suspicions and don’t trust women.”

Rep. Margaret M. Heckler (R) of Massachusetts

“The full potential of woman suffrage has remained unsatisfied for many reasons, one of which has been the apathy of women themselves.

“But the impatience of the ’70’s seems to have served the cause of women’s rights effectively. Culminating half a century of efforts to achieve full equality for women, House of Representatives passage on Aug. 10, 1970, of the Equal Rights Amendment was a fitting and proper tribute just in time for the 50th anniversary of woman suffrage....

“It is a primary concern for every American parent educating a daughter at this time that young women be permitted to compete with their brothers on a fair and equitable basis in the job market rather than relegated to sales and secretarial positions without hope of advancement according to ability.

‘‘The application of women’s special powers of human sensitivity in problem­solving efforts is long overdue. As a nation we can ill afford to deprive ourselves of the vast resources of womanpower in conquering our country’s ills. Full utilization of all our nation’s human resources - of which women supply 51 percent - is essential in the monumental task of improving the quality of our life in America for the present and for future generations.

“I look back with keen appreciation for the accomplishment of the suffragettes, and I look forward with determination and hope and pride at the promise of what woman­power holds for America.”

Photos by Jim Hughes, John Littlewood, Norman Matheny / The Christian Science Monitor

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