Posts Tagged ‘A Horseman Riding B’

A scene from the 1978 BBC series A Horseman Riding By.

Delderfield and Steinem Jiggle My Brain

          I’m currently reading A Horseman Riding By by R.F. Delderfield, which was first published in 1966, and which now has a 2017 edition available free on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited. The book begins in 1902 and follows an English, land-owning family adjusting to world changes.

          One focus of Delderfield’s book is about the Suffragettes, who protested hard to gain women the vote, and were persecuted because of it.

       On Monday, I watched The Glorias, an Amazon Prime video about Gloria Steinem, who fought for equal rights for women back in the 1970s and is still fighting for them today. As a journalist for 37 years beginning in 1967, I reported on the equality issues, while at the same time fighting for equal rights and pay for my own work.

          What struck me during my own fight was that my fiercest competition to gain equality weren’t men, but women, including females working beside me. I know it’s hard to believe, but one early-on colleague told me to cool my fight for equal pay because she didn’t want to work as hard as the men. At the time I felt I was working harder than them to prove my worth.

          Then when I was hired to update a newspaper’s “Society” section into a modern day “Lifestyle” section, two women on my staff posted a note on the newspaper’s bulletin board saying they didn’t approve of my decisions to drop the required Miss and Mrs. titles in front of women’s names and to run pictures of both the bride and bridegroom in wedding announcements.

          Steinem, meanwhile, was up against Phyllis Schlafly, who conducted a national campaign against equal rights for women. I actually covered an event in which Schlafly spoke. It took the life out of me to report her comments. If I were to hold a grudge against anyone, it would be her.  I considered her a hypocrite as she was not the meek, stay at home mom she preached women should be.

          Anyway, all of these memories were brought together this morning while I was reading A Horseman Riding By as I drank my morning coffee.

The first wife of Delderfield’s protagonist scandalized everyone by leaving her husband and child to become a Suffragette. Several years later, the protagonist decided to back the political party that favored the women’s vote. But first he talked to his second wife, whom he feared might object. As part of the discussion, he showed her photos of Suffragettes being dragged down stone steps and force fed when they wouldn’t eat in protest.

          His wife didn’t object, but her belated response sent shivers down my body because it so squarely hit the bullseye.

          “I must be as far behind the times as any woman alive. I’ll use the vote if we get it, but I can’t work up much enthusiasm on the subject. Is that why they have to fight so hard do you suppose? Because so many women like me are satisfied to trot between nursery, kitchen and double bed?”

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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