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In my 40s, after I had regained my 10-year-old brashness, I bought a raft and learned how to captain it. Bean Pats to the female boatmen who twice took me through Lava Falls on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, females who didn’t let gender stop them from doing what they wanted to do in life. 

          “The fact is that a woman who aspires to be chairman of the board or a member of the House does so for exactly the same reasons as any man. Basically, these are that she thinks she can do the job, and she wants to try.” – Shirley Chisholm

It’s Really a Human Rights Issue

          In my goal to read Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations all the way through, I’ve encountered many a distressing comment from the ancient Greek poets that set my teeth to grinding.

To quote just two: “There’s nothing worse in the world than shameless women –save some other woman.” –Aristophanes (450-385 B.C.). “A woman is always a fickle, unstable thing.” Virgil ( 70 -19 B.C0.)

The attitudes weren’t much different, however, from the social patterns prevalent when I was born 80 years ago. As I recall the attitude back then was “Keep the women barefoot and pregnant.”

At a very early age, certainly before 10, I realized that boys had more life options open to them than girls. While I never envied their maleness, my bold, feisty nature emboldened me to vow that anything a boy could do, so could I.

I decided I would never get married and would be a female lawyer, a brash goal for a young girl in the 1940s. The

My mother, shown here in her 70s on the back of a motorcycle with one of my brothers, was a great example for me in her later years.

goal was diverted when puberty hit, and I went off course and married at 16.

But deep inside, I never lost the belief that I could do anything a man could do, with the exception of brute strength. I’ve always been a realist even if also an idealist. But even that assumption was challenged during the Equal Rights Amendment fight back in the 1970s.

I suddenly realized that some women were stronger than some men, even me. I also realized that men, although they had hundreds of more options, those options didn’t include those that were considered feminine, such as nurses or airline stewardesses. So it was that I began to think of equal rights as human rights, especially after, as an ERA supporter, I was asked if I wanted my daughters to go to war.

“Of course not,” I replied. “But I don’t want my sons to go to war either.”

By this time, I was in my 30s and had regained the feisty, brash attitude of my 10-year-old self. While I can’t say that I ever truly was accepted by everyone as an equal to my male counterparts, and I had to fight for equal pay in my chosen journalism career, I was able to have the life I wanted. And that, I’ve known now for many years, is the important right for all of us – regardless of gender.

Bean Pat: To all the women along the way who have inspired me, beginning with Loraine Bright, the woman I first revealed my secret desire to become a writer, and my first female editor Roberta Dansby, plus to name a few of the more well-known: Ellen Goodman, Anna Quindlen, Maureen Dowd, Barbara Jordan, Anne Richards, Molly Ivins and Maya Angelou.

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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