My grandson William, who is nine years old, loves to say “OK Boomer” to adults having no idea what constitutes a Boomer. I tried to explain to him that calling his mother that was not an insult and he better not say it to me, although I am a Boomer–born in the 50’s no less.
His mother is a millenial, as our three of my other children and two are Gen Z–which I had to look up because I can no longer keep all the generation monikors straight–because I am a Boomer! I would say the one thing we are all are feminists, including all four of my sons. They can call themselves feminists because they take women’s rights for granted and they are on their way to raising feminist sons and daughters.
The looming election and the passing of RGB makes me realize they have no idea of the changes that happened in my lifetime that affected my ability to buy a house as a single woman, get credit and what I dealt with during my career. My stories are small and not unique, but I want them to never take women’s rights for granted. As Kamala Harris asked Brent Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court hearings in 2018 “Can you think of any laws that give the government the power to make decisions about the male body?”
In my lifetime I remember my mother proudly getting her first credit card, in her own name, legally in 1974. I was in high school when this law was passed!
In my lifetime I was asked during an interview how I was going to manage being a single mother of three children and work full time. This was in 1990, and it was illegal and I had to the power to say you can’t ask me that question.
In my lifetime sexual harrassement was made illegal, but when I consulted a lawyer about all the inappropriate remarks made by my supervisor I was told, that’s just harrassment, not sexual harrassment. So when I walked into a meeting full of men and was told “I told you I don’t like that sweater” I could only reply, that is illegal to say, but I couldn’t do anything about it.
In my lifetime I took a second job to make up for the income I was not making at my primary job for 12 years. I raised five children, worked 40 hours a week at the job where my boss said the reason I did not make as much as the custodian (without a college degree) is because he was the breadwinner for his family. This was 1998-2012! Instead of pursuing it legally, I accepted it and worked an additional 20 hours a week to make up the income inequality.
So while many of these things were made legal or illegal in my lifetime and IN YOUR LIFETIME, they were not enforced, and I felt I could not rock the boat because I needed my job, married or single. I was not alone, and these are not the most egregious examples but I need to document this for my children and grandchildren–especially the girls–so they know why we should not have to have laws that govern a woman’s body. So they know how quickly you can gain equality and how quickly it can be taken away if you take it for granted.
So children of mine, take nothing for granted, vote, learn more about ERA and other issues unique to woman that I can’t believe we still need to talk about in my lifetime!
One thought on “In My Lifetime”
This is great, Elizabeth. Your stories are real and horrifying. And, yes, we must vote! And, we must set positive intentions that the world will continue to improve and that gender equality and many other equalities will reign in our lifetime and the lifetimes of our children.
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