Barbara Hawkins is Coaching Life Skills - A Better Life Using Meditation, The Silva Method, Silva Life System, Silva Intuition Training, Hypnosis, NLP, EFT, Spirituality and more
The following letter, written by my friend and colleague Del Morrill, is a wonderful reminder that we move through life on the shoulders of our ancestors. In this particular case, on the shoulders of our mothers.
With many thanks, here's her story:
Very recently I found an article about Betty Friedan, whose Feminine Mystique literally changed the world of women, children AND men. Because I was involved to some extent in the Women's Liberation Movement and felt freed myself from thinking I'd been alone in my frustrations, I started to do some reflecting on the changes that have occurred in my life as a result of the courage of many other women.
I notice how many more elders I am getting in my practice these days - we are an aging world and you will see more and more people trying to find ways to cope, not only with their own aging experiences, but with the radically different world they are in as compared to their own growing up. To this end, it is helpful to understand the great difference that people of the later decades have gone through, compared with life as it is now, for women and for men. I thought it might be helpful to publish a response I wrote to a male friend who asked how the lives of women had changed in my 80 years. Perhaps it might be helpful in your own professional and personal life, especially in how these changes have affected women and men like yourselves.
You ask for stories, Steve, so I'll do my best in a fairly short time:
I'm now 80, so I grew up in a very different time for girls and young women. We had few choices in what we could do. Below are just a few of them, which led me to become awakened by and active in the Women's Liberation Movement, and my continued concern beyond these shores for women everywhere. I have seen our society change a great deal - and I believe it's been changing, mostly for the good, at least in this country and others that have embraced more modern changes. This is especially true for women as they have been able to participate more and more fully in life as equal partners with men - especially in areas that involve decision-making.
In school classes I used to get "shushed" by other girls, and later, young women, for asking questions. When we dated, we were NEVER to reveal ourselves as smarter than the boys, or more skilled - in fact we learned to purposely "lose" games, etc.; and our dates consisted of being "enraptured" by whatever the guy said, no matter how boring. They had little interest in what we had to say - and just like many today, our bodies were far more important than anything in our brains.
Basically, you were not really considered a woman unless you got married. You either got married or, if working, you quit work if you got married. You even quit great careers if you got married - be it a ballerina, great pianist or singer, or whatever. It was simply assumed that, in no way, could you be an artist and married. Those who worked (until they could get married) had about 3 choices - teaching, nursing or secretarial. Women who tried to get into other professions usually had a truly hellish time of it - and I thank God for their courage in persisting.
Up until only recently, when you saw pictures of the hours of people going to work, it would show a sea of men's hats. When I first started traveling in business, people were shocked that I was by myself with a briefcase - it was unheard of to most. And, breakfast at the Hilton was with all-male clientele - not a woman in the place mid-week. Of course, the fact that I needed a room in the hotel raised eyebrows, offering a second key, with the expectation that I would be seeing non-client males on the side. In restaurants it was not unusual to be given the worst table by the most traffic, and get very little service.
At that time you never saw a female doctor, or a female lawyer, or a female business executive. The only women you saw in offices were secretaries. And, definitely, there were NO women in Congress anywhere to be seen by the public. They might be the ones to guide you through the Capital Bldg or White House on a tour, but that was about it. It simply was assumed everywhere that women really were not up to making important decisions. So, women learned to try to maneuver, in whatever way they could to influence
their husbands who made the decisions.
Of course, women weren't even in mid-management (let alone top management) in the business circle up until the late 70's. In fact, I was one of the first in NYC to move into mid-management from a secretarial-office manager position - yet my salary was not raised, and it was one half of the man next to me who did the same job, only a hell of a lot less work than I did. When Metropolitan Life asked me to come on board to train as head of their all-male sales dept., they offered me the same salary I was currently getting. I declined - not so much due to the salary, as to the fact that I didn't want to go into the insurance business - even in NYC!
You don't have to look far to get some idea of that if you ever are into the old classic movies. These movies also are very revealing about the attitudes of men toward women, by the way - and, no doubt, vice versa. Just pay attention to the dialogue the next time you watch them and see how many out-dated cliques you can find. Put-downs of women were very common - she runs like a woman, she throws like a girl, she drives like a woman, etc. - those are a meager few of the many comments that inferred our inferiority. (I think "you throw like a girl" is still pretty popular!) If women protested in any way they were called names - it was common to be referred
to as a ball-cutter, bitch - you name it., if you happened to be a self-confident and strong woman. Such a woman seemed to be very threatening to men at that time - although, sometimes I wonder if that has ever gone away, even in our culture.
As a girl going to school, even at the youngest ages, you wore dresses and you didn't climb things - a Tom Boy was a "sneering" comment. I was told not to walk on fences or ride boy's bikes - guess why? Because I might fall and break my hymen - the hymen being necessary to have intact when one got married. If broken, a woman was in serious trouble, considering that being a virgin when first married was absolutely critical. Women learned all kinds of tricks to get around that problem. Of course, it was assumed that men
should, by marriage, have plenty of experience. The double-standard reigned through every imaginable part of life/
Up to the Victorian and Edwardian ages in our own country, women owned nothing - they had to turn over any of their money to the male of the family, and the husbands "owned" the children. So if a woman did even dare to divorce she, in no way, would be allowed to have her children or any money to exist on, even if it was hers to begin with.
Now all of this was inspite of the fact that women were the ones who arranged the social calendar, educated their children, encouraged the arts, volunteered their time to help the poor, and tried to influence their husbands, wherever they could, to be as human as possible. Later, when we got more rights, it was due to what women did - not what men did, until forced to by women who refused to give in. We finally got voting rights from our fore-mothers who went through hell to obtain them!
The Women's Liberation Movement of the 70's was scoffed at terribly by just about every other part of society. Women's Lib was even accused of causing the family breakdown, teenage and other violence, and almost every other social ill. Yet it took the Women's Lib movement to bring about a great number of valuable changes, not just to women.
Today, woman's health concerns are being considered by doctors and medical scientists in a way never done before. It is hard to believe that up until fairly recently only men's anatomy and physiology were considered when learning about medicine. Still, I find many doctors I've dealt with are very chauvinistic when it comes to women - however, I think many of them are chauvinistic to all their patients, male or female - so it's probably not just woman thing!
Until the Women's Liberation Movement no one dared interfere with the horrifying abuse that went on with children and women; it was kept hidden. Even Freud, in the Victorian Age, when he tried to get his colleagues to consider the fact that some of his so-called "hysterical" women patients had been sexually abused by their fathers, was practically "lynched" by his peers - so he backed off. The term "hysterical women" remained, however.
There is so much improvement in our society that has occurred as a result of a movement that many people still sneer at. They seem unaware of just what has really happened as a result of those who took a lot of ribbing and abuse to make it clear that we had to enter a different time. It was the Civil Rights movement that woke up women who had been thinking they were weird or alone for not fitting in to the popular conceptions (I was one of them). Unfortunately, or fortunately depending upon how you look at it, it was the women who had fought so hard for the rights of the Black people, that found they were relegated to doing the so -called "shit work" - the
secretaries, if you will. They claim they had very little voice in that movement - and this caused some of them to do some serious thinking about the rights of one half of the population!
In the past, and even sometimes today, it breaks my heart to hear some women talk about how they got ahead on their own, and that any woman should have been able to do it. Some say that the ERA wasn't ratified in New York, not just because of men, but finally, due to WOMEN's negative votes! That's how well we as a group were brain-washed. I truly wish women and men of today would realize whose blood and bones they walk upon in our century.
I had hoped my grandchildren (all women) would never have to be put down in any way, nor made to feel less than anyone else. Yet it still happens now and then. I cringe when I watch young women in their 3-4" heels, and their ridiculous imitations of the clothing of crass musicians, and their absorption in idols and the most ridiculously inane activities. (I realize there was plenty of that during my youth, as well.) But I also glow with some pride when I see young women (and men) who move forward with interest and responsibility for their communities and the world, many who do some very daring things in life; many who give of their time for others. What more could I ask? That it be done across this globe with as much enthusiasm.
It fills me with pride to see other nations in this world have female prime ministers and presidents, and take congressional seats, and fill the seats of news anchors that once was the realm held totally by males. I think it's great when any person can work toward their life goals, and be chosen for positions because they are skilled and otherwise qualified for those positions, whether male or female.
We've come a long way in this country, especially people of color, women and children. Some of our men have forged ahead with us, yet many stay behind longing for the good old days, that never really existed as they hold in their imaginations. My concerns now lie more with women and children of so many countries in which their men try to hold them back, often by brutal means. I am in awe over the bravery of some of those women who resist being coerced, hidden and voiceless.
I don't know how well this really answer your question, Steve. It's difficult expressing my experiences over so many years, regarding this subject. Eventually, it will become hard to sort out reality from fable. Not so hard to sort out the changes one sees. I can only hope we continue to go forward in our growth, individually and as a global society.
Del Hunter Morrill, M.S., N.B.C.C.H.
Personal Guide & Hypnotherapist, Teacher and Lecturer
And Author of the GREAT ESCAPES Script Volumes
TRANSITIONS, a Center for Personal Guidance & Hypnosis
and home of NEW BEGINNINGS PUBLISHING
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In 2011 Del received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International
Alliance of Professional Hypnotists. For other honors, see www.hypnocenter.com.
This blog article was published on May 7, 2013.