Women's Rights and a Paper Route
It was 1965, I was 11 or 12. I had 2 older brothers who had saved a lot of money delivering papers and I wanted a piece of the action. My brothers were able to buy their own cars = freedom. I was getting $.25 allowance/week and no car was going to come out of that. I called our local paper “The Northern Virginia Sun” and told the man on the phone that I would like to apply for a job delivering papers. This man on the phone began to laugh and told me, “We don’t hire girls!” as though my inquiry was utterly ridiculous and how could I be so mutton headed as to think that they might. I was mortified. I thought how stupid I was to think that I should be able to step into that world. Rather than become angry with this big jerk on the phone and the entire establishment of people who seek to exclude others from the in crowd, I took it on as my own shame. I did not tell my parents or siblings or friends. Even though I was generally a kid who was not thwarted by “No”, and even though I was a fairly spunky and out of my place kid, I took this shame to my young girl heart and kept it as a wound and a reminder that I had best not risk the embarrassment of trying to join the big boy club. I needed to keep in place. I wonder how many other girls have been put in their place in this way. I wonder how many have stayed in their place because of some jerk. In high school we fought for the privilege to wear pants to school and to not have to take home ec and we were all taught to type and take shorthand so that we might earn a living as a secretary. The few sports available to women were very low on the priority list - we were encouraged to be cheerleaders. 34 years after my initial job search, when the U.S. women’s soccer team beat the Chinese and Brandy Chastain ripped off her shirt in glorious defiance of girls in their place, I cried and screamed and exulted for my daughter and future granddaughters and the notion that they could do anything they wanted - even own the newspaper company.