I’ve had a couple of conversations lately on how quickly (i.e., within the lifetime of one generation) things changed, in the United States and some portions of the rest of the world, for women.
In the late 1980s, when I first moved to LA, I was looking around for a new eye doctor. I went to one place and filled out their “new patient” form.
The receptionist looked it over and asked for my husband’s name. I said: “Not married.”
She then asked for my father’s name. I said: “Dead.”
She told me she needed the name of a “responsible male” before they could take me on as a patient. I suggested my brother, and informed her he was unemployed at the time, and living with me. When she wanted his phone number, I pointed out she already had it – because he was using my phone number, which was already on the application.
I internalized for *years* that concept that I would never own a house, because – with, I understand, rare exceptions – single women weren’t considered suitable property owners. It took me years for it to finally sink through that, yes, things had changed; yes, single women that I personally knew had bought houses, and yes, I could actually buy one myself. There was a lag time of several years from intellectual knowledge to gut understanding.
There’s a lot of wanking among certain older women that “young women just don’t get” what things were like “back in the day”. But you know what? I’m glad they don’t “get it” on any sort of gut level. Let it remain intellectual. Let them know at their core they are full human beings.
A good portion of the rest of the world has a great deal of catching up to do, alas.
PS: It's more than a bit jarring, when I clicked on the link to make sure it worked, that one of the sidebar ads on the LA Times website for this article said "Meet sexy Asian women online..."