Progress in women’s equality

August 28, 2019 • 9:00 am

I have two letters that I’ve combined into one post, both showing the progress in women’s rights since I was an adolescent. I hope they are heartening in showing that sexist attitudes prevalent when I was a boy have substantially eroded. Neither of the letters below (stemming from Richard Byrd and J. Edgar Hoover) would be considered acceptable today.

The first comes from reader Jane Phillips, who sent me a screenshot of a letter she wrote to the New York Times about Admiral Richard Byrd. As Jane told me, she’d dreamed of being on an expedition in the Antarctic, envisioning guiding sleds drawn by hardy dogs. She sent me the note below as well as her 1990 letter to the New York Times, which includes the dismissive response of one of Byrd’s flunkeys to her dreams of being an Antarctic explorer.

Jane’s cover email:

When you go to Antarctica, I hope you will think of me because of this: a response to my letter to Admiral Byrd  volunteering to go on an Antarctica expedition:
Jane’s letter to the NYT:

A version of this article appears in print on , Section 7, Page 30 of the National edition with the headline: No Women Allowed.

How snotty can you get? Well, consider J. Edgar Hoover’s reply to my old friend Betsy, who, in 1963 at age 14, wrote to the FBI asking how she could become an FBI agent. J. Edgar Hoover, the Director, answered her personally.

As Betsy notes, “There were 5 enclosures; I can remember only 3: secretary, stenographer, and lab technician. The enclosures themselves have long ago vanished… too bad.”

Well I’m happy to report that although there isn’t 50/50 gender parity in the FBI, as of 7 years ago 20% of FBI agents were women (this could in part reflect a difference in preference rather than pure bias, though there are still reports of anti-woman bias in the agency). But at least the “glass ceiling” is gone—as is the odious Hoover.

I don’t know the proportion of researchers in the Antarctic that are women, but from reading about the stations there I gather the proportion is substantial. The “Women in Antarctica” article on Wikipedia says this:

There were approximately 180 women in Antarctica in the 1990-1991 season.  Women from several different countries were regularly members of over-wintering teams by 1992. The first all-women expedition reached the South Pole in 1993.  Diana Patterson, the first female station leader on Antarctica, saw a change happening in 1995. She felt that many of the sexist views of the past had given way so that women were judged not by the fact that they were women, but “by how well you did your job.”

Social scientist, Robin Burns, studied the social structures of Antarctica in the 1995-1996 season. She found that while many earlier women struggled, in 1995, there was more acceptance of women in Antarctica. Also by the mid 1990s, one of the station managers, Ann Peoples, felt that a tipping point had been reached and women on Antarctica became more normalized. There were still men in Antarctica who were not afraid to voice their opinion that women should not “be on the ice,” but many others enjoyed having “women as colleagues and friends.” Women around this time began to feel like it was “taken for granted now that women go to the Antarctic.”

Studies done in the early 2000s showed that women’s inclusion in Antarctic groups were beneficial overall. In the early 2000s, Robin Burns has found that female scientists who enjoyed their experience in Antarctica were ones who were able to finish their scientific work, to see through the project into completion.

I trust that equal opportunity will continue and increase, so that there are no more sex-based barriers to getting either of these jobs—or any job.  While residual bias may remain, at least women are no longer patronizingly told that, on the basis of sex alone, they aren’t qualified to be FBI agents or Antarctic explorers and researchers.

95 thoughts on “Progress in women’s equality

  1. It’s amazing how far we’ve come. My grandmother raised my mother and three other children on a typist’s salary after my grandfather simply walked out and never came back when my mom was only four years old. Despite only having two bedrooms in a really shitty place in the Bronx (my mom still won’t walk barefoot in the house because, when she’d turn on the lights in the kitchen at night as a child, all the roaches scatter back under the refrigerator), my grandmother would often take in other women she knew when they needed a place to stay for some reason (abusive husbands, evicted, etc.). My grandmother, though smart as a whip, never got the opportunity to attend college or advance her career/salary.

    Now, I know more women than men who work in offices of some kind in management positions, or who are doctors or psychologists. As Dylan said, the times they are a changin.

    I hope Jane can make her trip to Antarctica one day.

  2. Good story. Women are now finally getting into real jobs in the military such as combat even in the Marines. Jet pilots in the Navy and Air Force. But still a long way to go to achieve real equality in the workforce or in pay.

    I was in the workforce for several years and saw women finally given the chance to advance in the 80s and 90s. It has been a slow process but it will be accomplished some day. When I was in the military back in the late 60s and early 70s, women in any of the jobs I was in within the Air Force did not exist. Also, single women in the Force were not allowed to do lots of things, such as become pregnant. If they did, they were immediately kicked out. Now they have maternity military clothing in the clothing stores on base. What a change.

    1. I have to chime in and say that I still oppose female Marines in ground combat units. I have spent plenty of time in both forward deployed and rear units. There are numerous reasons that I feel this way, but the one I want to focus on here is the one that I don’t see that we can overcome. Strength and endurance.
      Unlike other services, Marines on the ground spend a huge part of their time carrying heavy things, and loading and unloading trucks and containers. We dig as lot of holes, and shovel rocks into HESCOs. It is hard work, usually done in unpleasant conditions with real time constraints. I have never seen a mixed-sex unit where any of the Women could keep the physical pace with the average male Marine. Sometimes they pressure themselves to do so, but they have to push themselves a lot harder to keep pace with the guys, and face a real risk on injury.
      It is not at all unusual for the survival of a combat unit to depend on their ability to push themselves to their physical limits. Having some team members with 30-40% less strength than the rest is a serious handicap.

      Although in civilian life, the differences can seem minimal, especially when your group contains women with physical training and men without, a front-line combat unit is composed exclusively of individuals who maintain very high fitness standards. The boy who enlists at 19 after a life of donuts and video games might have a hard time initially keeping up with a female peer who ran track and lifted weights in high school, but he will soon push ahead. That is just biological reality. In situations where strength and endurance mean the difference between life and death, there is just no getting past that reality.

      1. I haven’t been in the Army or Marines myself, but I’ve heard from some who have about the resentment it causes when women stand on the sidelines while men load and unload ammunition crates, when men have to carry womens’ gear in addition to their own on long marches, and carry their toolboxes around, etc. I also heard of people being worried when they see that female medics are unable to carry or move wounded men effectively, or to perform most damage control tasks in the navy.

        I don’t mind the idea of women in the military as long as they meet the same standards as everyone else. However, I remember reading that the majority of women in the military (60-some percent?) don’t meet the minimum physical requirements, so they go unenforced. (Also, in practice the standards for women are lower.)

        It may be best to have men and women in separate combat units. That would avoid the male-male competition that arises when women are around, the destruction of team cohesion when men compete for women and especially women have sex with some of the men (and others are “left out”), the resentment of some people not pulling their weight, the worries about female medics being unable to move men, etc. Unfortunately, the cargo would still be heavy and I don’t know who would dig the trenches and set up the barriers and everything in their parts of the base… but at least the problems of women in combat units would be contained and lessened.

        1. Right now, there seems to be an environment where a lot of these issues are common knowledge, and are significant enough to become part of mission planning, but are things that must never be discussed openly.

          I try to keep behavioral issues out of these discussions, as some aspects of that can probably be trained into or out of a person.

          But any profession where strength and endurance are strongly correlated with physical survival should really be looked at differently than jobs without that aspect. I have no opinion on female pilots, and no problem at all with qualified females working or supervising in support roles.

          The US military has been assigned the task of gender integration, as have fire departments and other demanding jobs. I guess the question that has to be asked is what goal we are trying to achieve with that, and whether that goal is more important than mission effectiveness.

          And this discussion might be completely different in some future era when exo-body suits are the norm. But right now, today, we need people who can consistently throw a frag grenade beyond it’s lethal radius, can carry an injured squad mate out of danger, and can be called on to carry a mortar base plate or an M2 machine gun when required.

          1. It should be, however, also an opportunity to seriously evaluate the needed ability – perhaps technological or operational procedure can work better to allow the cutoffs to be lower.

      2. I would not argue with you the place in the infantry within the marines regarding women. But as you know, those are not the only jobs in today’s marines or the military in general. There are still more than enough positions for women and in the Air Force where I did some time, I cannot think of any that women cannot do as well as men.

        Certainly there are always some specific areas of work that are not suited to women. Working in a warehouse loading trucks would be one where few women would work. But nearly every other kind of warehouse work would be just fine, such as driving forklifts or picking merchandise.

        By the way, in some countries, time in the military is required for males and females. That is not biological reality, it’s just reality.

        1. My argument is not against women in the military. I narrowed my objections to women in USMC ground combat units.
          My wife is a skilled physician, and would no doubt be a great military surgeon (which my son aspires to be).
          She would be totally unsuitable as a combat medic, for the reasons previously mentioned. She is in great shape, and runs 5 or more miles every day. But at no time in her life has she come even close to being strong enough to carry a 200 pound unconscious person up a hill and put him in a helicopter.

    2. But still a long way to go to achieve real equality in the workforce or in pay.

      What specifically do you mean by ‘real equality’?

      As for pay, women already earn the same as men for the same work.

      1. Mr Matt: AT where is it .located. for .fact. /
        for .evidence. in your coming after
        Mr Schenck with your ” … … for pay,
        women already earn the same as men
        for the same work ? ”


    3. But still a long way to go to achieve real equality in the workforce or in pay.

      What specifically do you mean by ‘real equality’?

      As for pay, women already earn the same as men for the same work.

  3. When my mom, who was British, came to the US after marrying my dad in the ’50s, she was shocked to be told at a bank that she couldn’t open an account without my dad’s permission.

    She tried to get teaching jobs several times but was repeatedly subjected to sexual advances by the interviewers. She finally gave up.

    Women at that time were not allowed to be newspaper reporters or editors either, unless it was for the features section, and university faculty positions were pretty much all white male. The list is long.

  4. It is wonderful that women are now servicing in positions that they were so long shut out from. It must be remembered that these advancements did not come from magical transformations in the attitudes of men. Rather, they came from social activism from women and their male allies. As with virtually all social justice (I use the term proudly despite how it is reviled by some), it derives from the aggrieved demanding what is due them despite facing at times daunting resistance by those who view change as threatening their status. As an example, the resistance of social reactionaries to women serving in the military was fierce. But, it was overcome and now we hear much less about those complaining that women are not strong enough to serve. Earlier examples are women suffrage and civil rights. The lesson of all this is that social justice comes from demanding and activism, not politely asking. You can rest assured that those who reflexively whine about “social justice warriors” are scared stiff that the world they have known – one of dominance (psychologically, if nothing else) – is threatened. The thought pains them deeply.

    1. I whine indeed about “Social Justice Warriors” (SJW’s), the term has become to mean those that espouse the purity tests, nay purity competitions, from behind their keyboards and Twitter accounts. And doxxing, mobbing and harassing those that laid the smallest hair ‘wrong’.
      Don’t get me wrong, I agree there used to be real social justice warriors -well, there still are (Ayaan Hirsi Ali being an example out of many that comes to mind)- that tried, and sometimes succeeded, to actually change our world into a better one.

      1. My objection to the use of the term “social justice warrior” is that it tends to associate the cause of social justice and the activism necessary to achieve it with something that is illegitimate or not worthy of consideration. In other words, the use of the term by well-meaning people serves the cause of the social reactionaries who use all tools at their disposal to thwart social progress. All movements or institutions should be subject to criticism. However, this can be done without calling people you don’t agree with “social justice warriors.” This does nothing but harm the cause of social justice, which has achieved so much since the country’s founding. Just as the right wing attempted to equate liberalism with communism in the 1950s, so today it attempts to hold back social progress by demeaning all its adherents as “social justice warriors,” despite what they actually believe and advocate for.

        1. The problem seems to be that we don’t have a recognised term for the offence-mongers and purity-testers other than “SJWs”.

          The “SJ” and “W” are of course ironic, so we really mean “‘SJ’ ‘W’ s”.

          We need to crowdsource a better term and start spreading it. Ideas anyone?

        2. Yeah, the abuses by some is no reason to throw out the social justice baby with the bathwater warriors. Without social-justice movements, there’d’ve been no emancipation from slavery, no universal suffrage, no social safety net.

        3. The problem is with the word “social” – it creates bad connotations when paired with “justice” for many. “Social Justice” is taken to be a mass of silly to harmful policies. What’s the difference between “justice” and “social justice?”

          1. “Social Justice” is a subset of the term “Justice.” The former applies to rectifying injustices done to individuals belong to a group of people simply because of belonging to it while the latter can apply also to rectifying injustices done to individuals but not because of any group they belong to, for example, one individual winning a lawsuit against another.

            1. Thanks, that’s very clear. Treating people according to the group they belong to is bad policy. There may be non-trivial exceptions, but many under current debate, like slavery reparations, are bad policy. Public policy should focus on people as individuals not by what tribe they belong to. I can celebrate and be proud of my tribe in private, but I don’t want any advantages, disadvantages, or generalizations about me due to that reflected in public policy.

    2. On the abusive use of the term SJW, by the center left, I would add that it is yet another case of liberals unwisely accepting the terminology of the right, and acceding in their framing of the issues. It’s like how we let them demonize the label “liberal,” and even the bland and noncommittal “progressive.”

      1. I agree with you about the demonization of “liberal.” The way I’ve understood the term for 50+ years it applies to me. However, I like the use of “progressive” – I take it as fair warning of something or someone I probably oppose. However, I don’t like the conceit that progressive policies imply progress – what is progress is the heart of the matter, and I don’t think the green new deal, medicare for all, student debt forgiveness, and other bad ideas will yield progress.

      2. Yes, for several decades, at least back to the Reagan area, the Left has allowed the Right to control the political narratives through such means as talk radio and Fox News with devastating consequences, culminating in Trump. I hope that at long last the Left has learned its lessons, the most important one being that the Right is relentless in its pursuit of its agenda and will use any means to achieve it. I don’t think Obama and now Biden have learned that. I think Warren and Sanders have.

  5. Excuse my French, but fuck J. Edgar Hoover. Looks like we can add misogynist to the long list of be-hyphenated modifiers that usually precedes his ignominious name, like red-bullying, race-baiting, self-loathing, gay-bashing, and anti-Semitic.

    The man was as close to Caligula as this country should ever hope to come; he held eight consecutive US presidents hostage to the Director’s prurient “private files.” Hell, Nixon would’ve probably gotten away with Watergate if Hoover hadn’t had the decency to up and die in 1972, before he could quash the investigation (and then hold it over Nixon’s head for the rest of his rancid presidency).

    Every trip to Washington, DC, I grab a cab, pick up a six-pack, and head to Congressional Cemetery to make like Manneken Pis on the old closet-queen’s grave.

    1. Closet queens bashing gays, quite common. So common that the Hitch suspected all gay bashers to be ‘closet queens’. I find that a weird, but highly interesting phenomenon.

      1. Just ask the Donald’s all-time favorite lawyer (who was originally recommended to Joe McCarthy by none other than J. Edgar Hoover), Roy Cohn.

        Oh, that’s right, you can’t; he died of “liver cancer,” coincidentally at the height of the HIV epidemic.

        1. Well, I always heard that he died of ‘AIDS-related complications’, the liver cancer is new to me.
          I knew he was Mr McCarty’s ‘bulldog’, and that he was instrumental in the judicial murder of the Rosenbergs, and that he was Mr Trump’s ‘mentor’, but did not know that he went with despicable Joe on Mr Hoover’s recommendation. Small world it seems.

          1. Your mention of the executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg conjures up one of the most controversial episodes deriving from the Cold War. Namely, were they Soviet spies? I am no expert in this area, but it seems that the latest evidence shows that Julius was a spy and Ethel wasn’t. It appears also that the government knew this but prosecuted and executed her so that the Soviets wouldn’t know how it found about the spy rings. This means that Ethel should never have been executed. This, at least, is the conclusion of a video by Smithsonian Magazine.

            1. For what it’s worth, Wikipedia agrees with my vague recollections concerning the case with this:

              For decades, the Rosenbergs’ sons, Michael and Robert Meeropol, and many other defenders maintained that Julius and Ethel were innocent of spying on their country and were victims of Cold War paranoia. After the fall of the Soviet Union, much information concerning them was declassified, including a trove of decoded Soviet cables, code-named VENONA, which detailed Julius’s role as a courier and recruiter for the Soviets and Ethel’s role as an accessory. In 2008 the National Archives of the United States published most of the grand jury testimony related to the prosecution of the Rosenbergs; it revealed that Ethel had not been directly involved in activities, contrary to the charges levied by the government.

              In 2014, five historians who had published works based on the Rosenberg case wrote that newly available Soviet documents show that Ethel Rosenberg hid money and espionage paraphernalia for Julius, served as an intermediary for communications with his Soviet intelligence contacts, relayed her personal evaluation of individuals whom Julius considered recruiting, and was present at meetings with his sources.[3] They support the assertion that Ethel persuaded her sister-in-law Ruth Greenglass to travel to New Mexico to recruit her brother David Greenglass as a spy.[3]

          2. Cohn did die of AIDS, but he insisted till his last that it was “liver cancer,” since he refused ever to acknowledge his homosexuality. He liked boning young guys, mind you, but thought being gay would make him seem weak and sad.

            He was an American monster, straight out of Grendel’s mother, a man who could stab you in the back while shaking your hand. He beat the rap in three federal felony trials. By the time he met his maker, he’d stomped on all of his enemies, and even some of his friends.

            But that’s the type of lawyer Donald Trump has longed for to be his attorney general.

            1. Appears he got what he wanted. Barr is about as sleazy as they come. Even going to pay Trump $30 grand or more just to have a party at the Trump hotel. Maybe it’s an emoluments party?

              By the way, if Lawrence O Donnell’s story I heard last night would come to be true, Trump may be finished sooner than he thinks. He only has one source so it’s not real news yet and we’ll only know when the Congress gets the documents from Deutsche bank.

              1. Yeah, I saw that, too. It’d be easy enough for Trump to disprove that Russian oligarchs co-signed his loans at Deutsche Bank: all he has to do is release the loan docs himself.

              2. Highly unlikely. They also must have much of his taxes. Anyway, if true it would sure explain the string Putin has him on.

              3. Apparently, Trump is ready to sue on this. I hate Trump but tend not to believe it. I do find it interesting that Trump is ready to sue on this but there is no culpability on him retweeting all kinds of screwy conspiracy theories.

                That said, I wonder if the tax returns submitted to the bank match what was filed with the IRS…were they “proforma” tax returns?

              4. @Randy B:

                Trump is ready to THREATEN to sue. He won’t actually sue; that would subject him to the “discovery” process.

                Trump is famous for threatening to sue, then failing to follow up. Ask the 18 or so women who accused him of sexual assault or sexual harassment prior to his election. He said he was going to sue them all, but hasn’t actually filed a lawsuit against any of them.

  6. I sometime wonder when we reach parity what would become of ideas like ‘women and children first, chivalry, dowries, dating ‘norms”.

    1. Well, many feminists don’t like “chivalry”, like men opening doors for them, and several women whose views I respect have said that about the doors.

      I’m conflicted about this, as I’ve always opened doors for women, paid for things on dates, and so on. Now I just open doors for everybody but I still feel that men are financially responsible. The way around that is to adopt the near-universal rule that whoever invites someone to a meal should pay for it. And that’s fine, but the custom is still for the man to do the inviting.

      1. Men are doing less of the inviting now, and it is commonly accepted that women should carry their end of the financial pole.

        Miss Manners was writing about the [im]propriety of women refusing to be at least partly responsible for funding dates back in the 80’s, which was at least 30 years ago.

        1. Through my oldest son and his friends, I have the chance to witness how dating is done now. There is definitely a lot more equity in things like ‘who asks who to go out’, and who pays for things. But there is definitely still a lot of tradition going on out there too, such as where girls will often wait for the guy to make the first step or to call, and all that. They often like for the guy to pick up the tab. I suppose it depends on the individuals. Anyway, it seems more complicated now.

          1. I like tradition. After meeting and being with someone in the real world recently who asked me and paid for the first dates (came naturally to me), I’m back to (not since 2012) the online scene to complement the real world. That is where so many people are and it increases the chances of finding a companion. I wasn’t initially looking for that but after this last person, it might be nice. My strategy is to look at the people who click on me first. I don’t go out of my way to click on anyone. After a couple of weeks of being on there, I have two dates lined up so that’s good. I know to let the man hold the door (easy for me), ask me out (okay), and pay (used to be more difficult but not now). Also, this is from my own self-taught lessons from back in 2012. If the man doesn’t kiss first, move on.

        2. Hello Marta

          Can you explain this mystery to me: the power of flowers? On women. As a greeting, an appreciation, or an apology, it’s invariably greeted as appropriate.

          Now, as a gardener, I have grown many lovely flowers and taken great pleasure in their beauty. But, for women in inter-sexual roles, they seem to have a different role. Is this just the case in Western societies or true elsewhere?

          Years ago I pointed out to a woman anthropologist who was interested in such matters that flowers were the SEXUAL ORGANS of plants. Was this a coded message? She never replied. Yet sexual organs flowers remain.

          Digging further, is women’s undoubted appreciation of flowers socially constructed, or is it innate?

          1. Regarding your penultimate paragraph, I don’t think the fact that flowers are sexual organs has anything to do with it. I think it is probably very rare for this fact to ever cross anyone’s mind when giving flowers to a love interest or receiving flowers from one. But it is a funny coincidence.

            Regarding your ultimate paragraph, I think it must surely be a good bit of both. Flowers are aesthetically appealing visually and often olfactorily too to most humans. But there is additional meaning layered on top of that, for example that gifting of flowers is a sign of affection and intent. That part of it is largely social / cultural.

            1. I think that’s right. I can’t imagine myself coming up with the idea of giving flowers – I absorbed and copied it from the culture. Though, I wouldn’t be surprised to find the roots of this practice in some ancient pagan fertility rite.

            2. Thanks for your and Carl’s replies. I think they do less than justice to a couple of deep mysteries of human-flower responses.

              First, botanists (I think) agree that flowers are expensive but necessary to attract vital pollinators. But we are not pollinators, so why do they attract us so much?

              Second, why women? In particular? In romantic settings? In our culture?

              Given how erudite this site is, I rather hoped someone would come up with a cultural history of the appreciation of flowers. In different cultures, perhaps. Or biological explanations. ‘Coincidence’ rather avoids the issue.

              This relates, a bit, to little girls fascination with pink, etc. Sure it may partly be marketing. But why are little girls so vulnerable to it? And why is there nothing equivalent on the little boys side?

              Finally, a rueful anecdote from a distinguished feminist biologist. Her son, her second child, inherited access to his elder sister’s toys. He particularly liked her Barbie doll.

              He used it as a gun.

              To shoot the dog.

              1. Jonathan Haidt shares an anecdote about a girl who was given a train locomotive as a toy. She put it to bed at night in a doll crib.

          2. Men like flowers too but in western countries their told they are sissies if they admit it. However, lots of other non western cultures don’t have such taboos. I’ve seen men on flights from Rarotonga with flowers behind their ears.

            1. I know what you mean. When I was 7 a neighbor boy used to hold shows of little fairies on threads dancing in a fish tank with little flowers floating around. My older sister called him a fruitcake. I’ve never really gotten into flowers much. Maybe because of that early experience.

            2. “Men like flowers too but in western countries their told they are sissies if they admit it.”

              Not in the UK they aren’t. Not when it comes to gardening and long running gardening programs on both BBC TV and radio are testament this. Traditionally men grew both flowers and veg.

              The point, rather, is that women rarely, if ever, give flowers to men.

              What’s wrong with you?!

              It is a very interesting dichotomy.

              1. We go to lots of orchid shows, and it appears that a large percentage of competitive growers and enthusiasts are male, including myself.
                As far as the custom of giving cut flowers, I suspect it is simply tradition. Like the association of pink and blue with girls and boys. That one has occasionally been reversed or different colors used at different times and places.

    2. They’ll disappear like the vestiges of feudalism that they are (though I confess, like our host, I still personally follow a certain anachronistic gentlemen’s code that was instilled in me by my elders).

      Nevertheless, were the Titanic to sink again, I should think that both men and women would now still offer the first seats on the lifeboats to children.

    3. Women and children first is outdated in my mind and as for dowries – good grief. I don’t even like the ludicrous idea that the man is supposed to spend a big wad of his salary on a piece of jewelry when he asks his beloved to marry him. As for chivalry – and I’m assuming you’re speaking of holding open doors and such – who needs it? Just be nice to one another and polite. I held the door for a man (a stranger) a couple weeks ago and he joking said to me, “you’re such a gentleman”. It was funny but I also thought “Oh crap he could probably get in trouble saying that in this day and age”.

      1. Protecting the women is a very old group survival strategy. Population growth or stability depends almost exclusively on the number of healthy women in the population. An individual male is pretty insignificant in that respect.

        One of the first “sexual harassment” classes I attended (run by the USN) made a point about opening the door for women. The woman could feel that opening the door implied that she could not do it herself, and thus is harassment. Not opening the door could be seen as “deliberately disrespecting” her. It depends entirely on the woman’s moods and feelings.

        I personally was taught to always open the door for pretty much everyone, especially older folks, people carrying parcels,and those herding kids. It is the polite thing to do.

  7. Both instances involved in large part nonsense about womens’ supposed physical weaknesses.
    One needed antidote to that might be taking a look at
    Recently retired Bjoergen has 10s and 10s of Olympic and World Championship medals in Nordic skiing (AKA Cross Country, but I thought that term referred to those whose poles are used to avoid falling on your ass). Look her up in wiki–the only comparable record for a man is Ole Einar Bjornedalen in Biathlon.

    1. … nonsense about womens’ supposed physical weaknesses

      By nonsense I hope you mean clearly false beliefs like “women aren’t strong enough to run marathons” and not that they are on average (or best vs. best) stronger than men. Men are stronger in almost all ways (Diana Nyad being an inspiring exception). Men exceed women in most physical contests not due to societal advantages, but genetics. Bjoergen is extremely impressive, but how would she do competing against men? I would be happy to learn I’m wrong, but I speculate she wouldn’t have any Olympic medals.

      1. Of course, by ‘supposed physical weaknesses’ I meant the nonsense regarding effectiveness in Antarctic/FBI work. It is obvious that, on average, males grow much larger. You need only look at times posted on the same snow to see what would happen in ‘no-sex-races’ at that top level.

        1. Nearly all duties of an FBI agent fall within the capabilities of both men and women. And, while within the Bureau many different specializations exist, every agent must pass a comprehensive physical test.

          For ages, FBI agents carried .357 Magnum revolvers, until standardizing on 9mm duty pistols. Following the infamous 1986 ‘Miami Shootout’, where a 9mm bullet failed to bring down an assailant, the FBI commissioned Smith & Wesson to create a .40 round, then issued .40 chambered Glocks. Just a few years ago, the Bureau switched back to 9×19 chambered Glocks, citing handling & accuracy issues that female agents, especially those with small hands, were experiencing with the heavier pistols.

  8. One of the opportunities GSUSA offered girls
    was participation in research in Antarctica.
    I don’t know if they still offer this program, or when and how it started. Maybe some on the list could provide details. I tried encouraging my daughter and her friends to apply — alas they did not. It certainly would have been high on my list of things to do when I was in high school.

    Yes, we have made progress, but please do not confuse progress with equality. Women still face discrimination. When we protest we are not snowflakes, SJW, being PC or any of the other dismissive titles bestowed my some on this list.

  9. Another sign of changed attitudes about women is the wild popularity of Game of Thrones with its legion of strong, interesting female characters.

  10. To be honest I didn´t read the whole thing, but I sort of got the “thing”. All the Jobs in my civilian world, and some in the army, my superiors where women. Did I think, ” wow, women are telling me …..” No, The women where in charge because, remember this, they are more capable than not only man but other women to do that job I was working at, so even between women it seems you are different and some more capable than others to do thertain Jobs or in my case to manage me to do my job? Wow, what a revelation. You put groups, I see individuals, woman, gays, blacks, dumb shits like me…. but individuals.
    So great for you Evolution “tree”, I do know about the women “movement” in the past century, what the fuck are you complaining now about? Will and Grace that commedy?
    Give me a brake. Just pissess me off that people like you keep being a victem, no sorry, what´s with the almost president Hillary Clinton that it is proven she is more corrupt than me? You wanted a corrupt woman to be president? And don´t give me shit about Donald the Truck, he just out Smart her. But keep on playing the victim, and my respect are for TRUE woman that, and that includes Mrs. Hillary Clinton. She is tough, she did loose, but she Will come and come at you, that I respect, I might not agree with her policies but I respect her as a person.
    So what are feminist complaining about now? Just curious

    1. After reading this comment, the only thing I can say for sure that I agree with or understand is the first line – I didn’t read the whole thing.

      1. You got it 😉
        love ya, do not get mad, I do say in my “about” page I have a ironic sarcastic sense of humour that some people like others don´t.
        Got you, take it easy you peeeeeasy!
        love ya

  11. It’s ironic, because when J. Edgar wrote that letter he was wearing a floral print sundress with spaghetti straps, wedge heels, and a floppy hat.

      1. Especially in a dress! Hoover and Cardinal Spellman in drag must have made quite a twosome:

        “The Cardinal was known as “Telma” or “Franny” Spellman in some circles and was rumored to enjoy an active sexual and social life in New York City, with a particular fondness for Broadway musicals and their chorus boys. It was widely rumoured, for instance, that he attended a party with that other well-known closet case, J Edgar Hoover – in drag.”

          1. Oy là là! as the little Prince George would have it. He actually said this. I think he’s being taught Yiddish and French. I don’t give a fig for the royals but I’m charmed by that.

  12. I remember shortly after we arrived as immigrants form Canada, my mother, who was not a driver, noticed that almost all the women she came to know did drive. She quickly got a license. This was in 1959 or ’60. Canadian women were, perhaps, lagging behind the Americans by a few years.

    The first woman in space was Valentina Tereshkova in 1963. Lately, women aboard the Space Station is routine. Things have changed.

  13. Sentiments and policies that were routine and unremarkable at the time would not be acceptable today – this is obvious and unremarkable. To the modern eye it’s disappointing that the FBI didn’t hire women as agents back in the day, but it’s hardly surprising. What did surprise me was that J Edgar Hoover himself replied personally, in a polite and helpful manner, with a wealth of useful material. I know he was a disreputable figure, but this incident elevates my previous estimation of him (just a little bit).

  14. I detest Hoover, but I didn’t find that letter ‘snotty’ in any way. It was a perfectly polite response, given the prevailing policy at the time. (Would any law enforcement boss have answered differently?)

    And I don’t think it entirely fair to point the finger at Byrd for the tone of a letter sent by an underling.

    It sort of smacks of ‘offence culture’.

    If those letters are taken as evidence of prevailing social attitudes at the time, okay. But I don’t go along with reinterpreting individuals’ past statements by modern standards.


  15. Imagine this: Fully qualified, able bodied for the work, having to pay expensive insurance to do the work on a self employed basis and only being given a fraction of the jobs available because you are a woman. Therefore you can earn money, but that would go towards paying for the insurance, keep an expensive Professional Body membership and keeping up with the latest in your field of excellence via conferences on the other side of the country, just to be able to apply for the jobs…

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