Dear Mitt, please, not a repeat of the 1950s

Hey! Little Girl
Comb your hair, fix your makeup
Soon he will open the door
Don’t think because there’s a ring on your finger
You needn’t try anymore

For wives should always be lovers too
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you
I’m warning you…

Burt Bacharach & Hal David, recorded by Jack Jones 1964

When I see Mitt Romney , his hair slicked like Robert Young’s in Father Knows Best, I’m reminded of the late 1950s. It’s an era for which Republicans seem to feel nostalgia. A family with a father who goes off to work every morning, a wife who greets him in the evening wearing high heels and makeup. And who has dinner waiting. Back then our society had order—or appeared to.

Back then most white people were still unaware of African Americans organizing for equal opportunities and the right to vote. Men were unaware that women were searching for opportunities to use their gifts for the benefit of society. Straights were unaware that gays and lesbians were running our banks, teaching in our schools, playing on our professional sports teams.

During the fifties my mother had the skills to run a corporation. Her job title was secretary, though she did the hiring, firing, and book-keeping for a chain of three drugstores. Once, when she complained that her workload was too big, her boss handed her a ten-dollar bill and said, “Here, go buy a hat.” Eventually he hired a book-keeper, a man of course, who made twice her salary.

With women on TV either for decorative purposes or as the recipients of men’s scornful humor, we girls had only the role model of teacher, nurse, social worker. I settled for teacher but soon discovered I didn’t really like kids—at least not thirty at a time. So I wasn’t disappointed when school district policy dictated that I quit my teaching job when I was four months pregnant. Women, you see, couldn’t reveal in any way that we were sexual beings.

Of course girls couldn’t either. While “boys will be boys” permitted all sorts of male behavior, girls had to pretend that our hormones were dormant. A few were called loose; occasionally one disappeared for a semester. Among girls the word “contraception” was seldom spoken above a whisper, if at all. In 1965 the Supreme Court ruled a Connecticut law banning contraception unconstitutional. Not until 1972 did the court rule that unmarried couples have the right to possess contraception.

Unless a second income was necessary for survival, husbands went out into the world and carried the burdens of government, church, and community. Women had little say over our lives; men made important decisions.

Now the Romney-Ryan ticket, along with other Republican men, would have us return to the 1950s. Before he changed his stance in the foreign-policy debate, Romney cited Russia as our biggest geopolitical threat. It was. During the fifties. Republicans want to return to the order—or at least the illusion of it—they remember: African-Americans in their place, women and their sexuality under the close supervision of men; gays and lesbians back in the closet.

But you can’t stuff toothpaste back in the tube. Today cultures live side by side and demand equal rights and prosperity in our country. Young people are growing up in settings that bring together races, ethnic groups, male and female, gay and straight. I admit I’m not comfortable with all the changes in my lifetime.

But who in their right minds would want our society to return to the way it really was in the fifties?

25 thoughts on “Dear Mitt, please, not a repeat of the 1950s

  1. I totally agree with and remember oh so well those days..I am now 66 yrs young and cannot believe all the things we women have fought and gained are being put in the hands of these wingnut men..Thanks for your words…

      • Romney didn’t say Russia was our biggest enemy during the debate; Obama accused Romney of that! Romney corrected the President by saying Iran is our biggest threat, but that he wasn’t wearing rose-colored glasses when it comes to Russia! Get the facts right, please! Obama puts words in your mouth, and you go about repeating them as if they were true? Obama told numerous lies and false staements during the debates! The American people watched the debates and saw the difference between the two candidates; that’s why Romney is climbing in most of the critical states, and hopefully, will be elected!

      • Thanks, Deryl, for responding to my blog.

        Long before the debate I saw/heard a clip in which Romney did in fact say Russia was our biggest enemy ( I’m a news junkie and have been watching Romney (and the other Republican candidates)ever since the beginning of the primary process. I witnessed the degree to which he tried to present himself as more conservative than the other candidates. I have been especially concerned about his stance on social issues, such as equal pay for women and a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body. He’s also made it clear that he would withdraw funding for Planned Parenthood, which has probably done more than any organization for women’s health. I’m not talking about abortion; I’m speaking of contraception, mammograms, and screenings for cancer.

        However, in the debates with Obama, Romney did an about-face and presented himself as moderate. So which Romney was lying?

  2. Nancy, I’m posting your blog everywhere! My wife has tears in her eyes and sending it out in mass emails…I hope you don’t mind but I love the blog and want you to receive the credit you deserve for putting women issues out front and writing a great blog…

    Your number 1 fans! The Curtis family…

  3. I remember the fifties. I was not aware of these things then because of my gender, but in retrospect, I agree that life is more exciting and creative with gender equality. I don’t want to go back.

  4. WHo would want to return America to the 1950’s, you ask? I’ll tell you: men and their patriarchal handmaids who support male supremacy who are not only willing to sacrifice their own daughters on the altar of the Almighty Penis to preserve and maintain this phallocracy, but YOUR daughters too! If there is any question about the degree to which America hates its own daughters, this piece should remove all doubt:

  5. Brilliant! I celebrated my 60th birthday last week, and the world I grew up in (in the deep south) and the world I inhabit now are vastly different. I am troubled by the lack of civility and the rhetoric that is being spewed about regarding women and rape, the poor and the sick, gays, and people of color. It does appear that the elite, white men want to take us back to the pre-Civil Rights era. But not only them, many women, too, and many who are in the lower echelons of society (and that truly baffles me.) Your post is wonderful. And once again I will take the liberty of reposting to my blog.

  6. Pingback: Dear Mitt, please, not a repeat of the 1950s | Inspired Vision

  7. I voted early for Romney!

    I read every day to see who is lying. Perhaps you could check some of your facts there if you have any doubts.

    My position as Administrator of an Abortion Clinic brings to mind the waste I witnessed first hand by Planned Parenthood. The salaries were out of line with the rest of us who were in the women’s health care business and we would not have to think about making a choice if men would keep their pants zipped.

    Also, why isn’t Obama talking about masturbation? It is a waste of babies waiting to be born. I am sure there is a law that could be enacted to stop this from happening. We need to pay more tax dollars for more babies with dead beat fathers; babies that are abused because they are not wanted…well I could go on and on.

    When a candidate has nothing better to talk about except big bird, binders and bayonets then I wonder what his record shows. Are we better off? I’m not.

    Then there are all the lies about Libya. I would encourage Congress to impeach him because his suppression is as bad as Watergate and Monica Lewinsky.

    Well, it is your blog and you have the freedom to express your opinion. And with this freedom you have the right to delete my comment.

      • Hi Nancy,
        I do take the time to read what others have written and if Obama is elected I will respect him as our President. I may not like what he does as a President, but then I did not like George Bush, the younger, either. To live as a free nation, there are certain parameters to guide us and I always try to respect the opinion of others even in my disagreement.
        Your writing is excellent. And I hope to read more about your world.
        In my opinion it is good to agree not to agree. We can move on from that place.

      • I try to respect others’ opinions too. But I must admit I find it hard during elections, when all of our passions seem to be at full throttle. I’ll be glad when the election’s over and I can return to my imagination. I become quite attached to the women in my stories.

    • Looking at the comments, I don’t think I responded to this one, Linda–though we continued the conversation later. And I might add, with civility.

      I started paying close attention to the Republicans competing for the nomination a year ago. Heard Cain’s 9-9-9 plan, Perry’s forgetting number three of the departments he would eliminate, Santorum’s demonizing homosexuals. I heard the multiple times Romney tried to convince the Tea Party that he was conservative.

      Now he’s trying to make the American public think that he’s moderate. So which Romney would govern?

      I hope you and I can stay in contact when the election is over.

  8. One may like President Obama’s stand and how far we have come, but is this truly a path we want to follow to the end? Look where we are headed. This problem is bigger than women’s and human rights. How many of our other rights are you willing to sacrifice? What about the debt? Four more years? Really? There’s no way a change in the White House is going to drive us back to the 1950s. Seek Truth, no matter who is speaking.

  9. Pingback: What can 56% of women do? « Inside Out Cafe

  10. Yet we’ve come a very long way, Baby. Very soon to turn 65, a 1970’s Women’s Lib Days of Rage card-carrying member of the National Organization for Women (NOW) who these days spends her leisure hours reading our Founding Father’s principals of limited government, I’m proud to call myself a Libertarian. Keep our federal government-run-amok out of my life! Romney or Obama — different sides of the same coin. Why have we allowed our Presidents to assume greater and greater power when the office was never intended to be that way? May I recommend the book “False Idol” by Gene Healy on the subject of the abuse of executive power.

    Oh, now look what you’ve gone and done! You got me up on my soap box….which way off of this thing?!

    • Annie,
      Ah, women on soapboxes. What could be more essential to these times!

      I share some Libertarian values, especially minding our own business when it comes to other countries. However, the environment (which Hurricane Sandy reminded us we dare not forget, even though both candidates were avoiding the subject) is my biggest concern. I think greed has become such a core American value that we must have regulations to protect our water and air.

  11. Oh yeah, and before I find my way off of the soapbox and while we’re on the subject… more quote from my old MS magazines of the early 1970s on the subject of abortion (which quote I believe is attributed to Florence Kennedy) … “If the Pope could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s