Posts Tagged ‘equal rights’

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.

Read Full Post »

Gloria Steinem, still speaking out for equal rights for all. — Wikimedia photo

“At my age … people often ask me if I’m passing the torch. I explain that I’m keeping my torch, thank you very much, and I’m using it to light the torches of others.” — Gloria Steinem

The Times Are a Changin

Gloria Steinem was a magazine journalist, just five years older than me, who was at the forefront of the fight for civil rights and women’s equality at the same time I was a working mother who was a newspaper reporter. She is now 86 to my 81 and she still has fire in her.

This magnet hangs on my refrigerator to remind me there is still life to be lived.

In a recent NY Times interview, Gloria said, “The progress we’ve made is not sufficient, but there is an advantage to being old. I have a role to play in the movement by saying, ‘Here’s when it was worse.”

I, too, remember when it was worse. I had a boss who told me I was the hardest worker in the office. Then I discovered that the guys in the office were making three times my meager salary. When I asked my boss’s boss, who controlled the purse strings, for a raise, he said it was hard for him to consider giving me a raise when all the men in the office had families to support.

I pointed out that all the men in my office currently had working wives, and that I was putting my then husband through college and was the sole support of him and my five children. “Oh,” was all he said. I got my raise. Such a situation hadn’t even occurred to him.

When Gloria Steinem’s Ms. Magazine was published for the first time in 1972, it was the same time I was fighting for equal pay for equal work.

Also, while I wasn’t raised to be a bigot, and Blacks were never disparaged in our home, I was indoctrinated by the teaching “separate but equal.” I heard the phrase often, and saw evidence of it growing up in the 1940s and ‘50s, with White and Black Only water fountain and restroom signs being the most common.

It wasn’t until I saw beyond what I had been taught growing up, while covering school integration issues as a reporter, that I quickly discovered how unequal things truly were. Reading books about the issues gave me even more insight.

Being a journalist reporting on the true facts, let me feel I was doing something positive to change things for the better. It gave me a false hope that true equality would actually happen. Maybe it will but it hasn’t yet.

Meanwhile, being retired and an old broad has made me feel helpless that there was nothing more I could do to make the world a kinder, fairer, better place in which to live. But reading that my elder journalist sister Gloria is still out there promoting equal right issues for all, made me rethink my plight.

I can still speak out against injustices. I can write letters promoting fairness and kindness. I can publicly support Black Lives Matter. Yes, all lives do matter but that is not the issue), And I can vote for people who give a damn about all America’s people.

Thank you, Gloria, for relighting my fire.

Bean Pat: To old broads everywhere who still have fire in them and who try to make the world a better place for all.

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.

Read Full Post »


Maasai women look on as men of their village demonstrate their jumping skills. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“The great thing is the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” Oliver Wendell Holmes


While drinking my morning coffee, I read that today was International Women’s Day. My first thought was how the world has changed for women during my time on this earth.

I’ve gone from marrying young and being barefoot and pregnant to being a homemaker who also brought home the bacon – if you can call that progress. I successfully fought for equal opportunity and equal pay in the workplace. Today, I take pride in the role I played so my granddaughters can take such things for granted. .

And then I remembered the Maasai women I had seen in Africa just three years ago. These beautiful women have such hard, difficult lives that our native guide, who was not a Maasai, expressed sorrow for them – and called their men lazy turds. This remark came every time he saw a man walking carrying nothing and a woman walking behind him loaded down with water or firewood.

It is the Maasai women who build the mud and dung huts for the family. It is the women who walk miles every day for water and firewood, unarmed among dangerous wildlife. It is the women who milk the cows and cook the food and tend the children. And yet it is the men who own everything.

This young girl, looking on at the jumping men, is surely thinking she can do that, too. -- Photo by Pat Bean

This young girl, looking on at the jumping men, is surely thinking she can do that, too. -- Photo by Pat Bean

While I appreciate ethnic cultures, this is one aspect of the Maasai way of life that needs to be changed. And I make no apology for saying that.

I definitely thought this after a visit to a Maasai village in Kenya, where the men demonstrated a game they played with stones then noted that it was too difficult for the women to master. I was not impressed and huffed off.

But then a young girl in the tribe offered me hope that change might already be sniffing at the men’s heels.

It happened when the men were showing off their jumping skills, something young boys began practicing almost as soon as they can walk. Off to the side, where the shaved-head Maasai women stood quietly looking on, a young girl, ignoring the disapproving looks coming her way, jumped in rhythm with the men.

She, I thought, was the beginning. I hope one day she will be able to look back on how far she’s come, too.

Read Full Post »