Updated: Dec 1, 2019
by Barbro Andren, Editor
The sisterhood of the traveling pants has nothing on the sisterhood of being able to wear pants to high school in the seventies.
When I was growing up, girls weren’t allowed to wear pants to school. Skirts or dresses only, which proved problematic in many areas, not the least of which was navigating the monkey bars. I remember hanging upside down, my skirt tucked between my legs, lest Christopher Geiger, (or any of the other boys) get a look at my cotton Carter's underpants.
In the winter, we were allowed to wear snow pants OVER our skirts, but in the cold, drafty classroom? Not a chance. So we wore knee socks, and kept warm the best we could. I remember tugging at my skirt, trying to bridge the gap between the bottom of my skirt and the top of my knee socks.
When springtime hit, girls were always giddy with anticipation for “Bermuda Day,” the one day of the school year that we were allowed to wear Bermuda shorts. Not short shorts, mind you, but shorts that covered up the majority of one’s thigh.
Ridiculous, isn’t it? But it’s the truth. I graduated from high school in 1971.
And so, in 1969, when the world was enthralled with Hippies, peace and love, I vaunted a charge to allow the girls at my high school to wear “slacks.” (Not blue jeans. We’d fight that battle the next year.)
I remember talking up the notion with everyone who would listen. I worked in the high school office as a student assistant, (and read the afternoon announcements on the PA system, something I haven’t thought of until just now, nearly 50 years later.) I had the ear of the Administration - if not the Principal, Mr. Bedell, a close to retirement man that I enacted with infrequently, then certainly with the Assistant Principal Mr. Tunnicliff, a big, bear of a man, a former linebacker with a buzz cut, and Ms. “S”, Jane, I believe her first name was, Siterlet. Miss “S” as we called her, was a busty, no-nonsense, dark-haired woman who was charged with measuring our skirts as we kneeled on the floor lest they expose more than 2” of flesh.
We wrote letters, editorials in the student newspaper, and had a march, with protest signs. I vaguely remember talk of, if not an actual, sit-in. The end result? We got to wear pants. Blue jeans the next year.
When I graduated from high school, and went off to college, I lived in the first ever co-ed dorm at Eastern Michigan University, Sellers Hall. Every other floor was either male or female, and we’d commingle in the dining hall. Sounds archaic? Consider just the year before when girls and boys lived in segregated quarters, but the girls only had an 11:00 p.m. sign-in curfew.
That brings to mind former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meier, a no-nonsense woman, born in Milwaukee. When women in her country were being raped, an 11:00 p.m. curfew for women was proposed. Meier countered that if there was to be a curfew, it seemed to her it should be for the men, because they, after all, were the ones doing the raping.
Every day since I was hanging on those monkey bars I’ve thought, in a nutshell, “WTF?” Why is it that there are more of us (women) than them (men), and they are still in charge?
Of course I know the answer. Men, in general, are larger than women, giving them the upper physical hand since the beginning of time. They controlled women, and in exchange for food and shelter, we did whatever we were told.
Unfortunately, in 2019, too many women are still doing what they’re told, which is somewhat astonishing to me. There are more women than men in the nearly four billion of us on the planet. We, unlike our cavewomen ancestors, can take care of ourselves. But yet, social conditioning and personal “whatevers” have kept the largest segment of earth’s population subjugated. It makes no sense.
As a 66 year-old grandmother, who thought by the time my 33 year-old daughter grew up, the women of this species would have equal rights. Now, I’m hoping for that for my year-old granddaughter. I pretty much won’t rest until it happens.
That’s why I was delighted to accept Chris’ invitation to be a part of Her Circle News - a worldwide place for women to take in and assess news. Women of all races, creeds, colors and ages. A place where we, as the majority, can use our voices to help one another reach not only our greatest individual potential, but society’s as well.