Hard to believe that there have been so many changes since the mid 20th century. Take, for example, the uproar when Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. The military was a year away from ordered desegregation. Rosa Parks was 8 years away from her famous bus ride, and M.L. King, Jr. was yet to stand in front of a crowd and tell them, “I Have A Dream.”
I should take my friends advice and put links into this blog, but I’m going to be lazy and tell the people who don’t recognize the names to write them in the search engine. I’d like to say that everyone should know who Jackie Robinson and Rosa Parks are, but then again my friend has a niece who wasn’t taught about Adolf Hitler. It makes me wonder if schools are trying to teach the nicer atrocities in history while avoiding the more heinous atrocities. It wasn’t that way when I was a teenager. No one talked about serial killers lurking in the toy section but Hitler’s treatment of Jews was mandatory reading.
Why can’t there be a balance? When I was a kid, we learned all about Hitler and the horrors of duck and cover, but nothing about sex. My “sex education” consisted of a boring book dedicated to discussing menstruation that had 1 paragraph about “intercourse.” In essence, it said that it was an act between 2 people who are married. It never said anything about rape or wife abuse. Ask your friends for advice before considering sex and what would you get? “Douche with coke to prevent pregnancy.” Do you know what my thoughts were the first time I had sex? All his primping, all the muscles bulging from a hard body, all the romantic kisses under the moonlight were whittled down to one horrible truth: “Dogs do this!”
What a way to learn that finding your prince and living happily ever after was a load of crap. Relationships take work! No one ever told me that when I was 18!
My BAID (My, but alas I digress).
Anyone under the age of 40 may not remember why the most alien thing about the Betty and Barney Hill abduction was the fact they were “an interracial couple,” or why the series “Three’s Company” was so funny. At that time, a “white” woman marrying a “negro” was rare, and couples who weren’t married couldn’t even rent a decent apartment together. Then there was the college girl who became pregnant, kept the baby, and returned back to the same college while her parents took care of the infant. Most people today would call that a meh moment. In the 1960’s, the norm was for a “girl” to disappear for 6 months to have the baby at an unwed mother’s home, tell the world she was helping care for her sick aunt in another state, and never speak of it again.
What was it like to be born in a time when a woman couldn’t own a business in Florida? The smallest breakthroughs were as hard for the average Joe (or Jo) as it would be for a socialite trying to climb up Mount Everest in stilettos. (My particular claim to obscurity was compelling a university to change the dress code so that women could wear pants to music class). The people who were ahead of their time aren’t appreciated by the young unmarried couple from 2 different continents buying a home together while she runs a small business and he stays home to take care of their 3 kids. They’re too busy trying to survive on one salary to care.
While we have accomplished the right to live with the person we want without the constraints of marriage, what inalienable rights have been taken from us? I’ll give you an example: When I was busy fighting for the right to wear pants in class, my sister and I were in college on Pell Grants with little to pay back at the end of 4 years. When my children went to college they could wear pants, shorts and tank tops. A big whoop-de-friggin’-do compared to the fact that they have student loans the size of a house payment while foreign students received free education. While I was busy reading Ms. Magazine and refusing to iron my husband’s shirts, the Glass-Steagall Act was under attack and I wasn’t paying attention. Now my kids live in a country that bails out too-big-to-exist banks.
I’m happy that the social barriers have been broken. I’m not happy that the middle class in the US is close to extinction or that corporations have been granted personhood. What important rights have we lost while we fought for other rights?
What do you think?