Because women’s equality has not always existed like grass and trees.. it had to be fought for

For the people who don’t believe sexism still exists this tumblr, A Thousand Reasons is great.. and here’s the story behind it.

A few minutes later, I added another tweet, a summary of an argument I have been posing to young women who say they are not feminists and owe nothing to feminism: for you I’m-not-a-feminists, in 1979 aged 28, when I applied for a store credit card the form had to be signed by my husband or father.

This incident took place in a now-defunct department store in Canada where I was a graduate student, and the male clerk on the other side of the desk witnessed me blow up like a nuclear bomb in his face. When, years later, observing the beginnings of a backlash against feminism, I asked I’m-not-a-feminist women if they were happy to bring back the times when their finances were controlled by male family members they were obviously shocked. Of course not. So who got rid of these requirements? Feminists did, by kicking up a fuss. And so my little contribution to International Women’s Day was to remind younger women that the rights they take for granted were achieved by those feminists with whom they feel they have nothing in common, rights which did not always exist, even in their own lifetimes.

… Some men tweeted me that they were cringing in shame at what they were reading; others dismissed my original tweet about the credit card application as an example of long ago, completely missing the point that the intention was to demonstrate that women’s equality has not always existed like grass and trees and had to be fought for.

Appropriately, I heard about this on twitter, so thanks to @mytiroo for telling me about it.

Cross-posted at blue milk.

Categories: gender & feminism, history

Tags: ,

11 replies

  1. And the thing I find horrifying is it isn’t that long ago. I was born less than a decade after that, and it horrifies me that if it wasn’t for this, I might not have control of my own finances. (and if some members of parliament had their way I still wouldn’t)

  2. I asked I’m-not-a-feminist women if they were happy to bring back the times when their finances were controlled by male family members they were obviously shocked.
    It’s such a fashion these days to pretend to be “above” social issues, like they’re an abstract debate or game.

  3. Unbelievably, I can ‘top’ 1979, and raise you to about 1990. Ernst and I were, at that time equeal partners in a small engineering business, established in 1985. He was in charge of the Toolmaking, and I did everything else (official title Chief Cook and Bottlewasher).
    We had a good relationship with the local W…..c bank manager, and if we needed to arrange finances or sort a problem, I would make the initial visit, present the facts, and then make a further appointment for us both to discuss Mr H’s suggestions. Worked beautifully. They helped us when we needed it, and we never defaulted (even when business finance cost us over 23%). The business is still going strong under our son’s management.
    Trotted in there one day, found that the appointment was not with the expected Mr H, who had been transferred, but with a gentleman of Middle Eastern persuasion.
    The gentleman of ME persuasion had the unmitigated gall to ask me if I had “my husband’s PERMISSION” to discuss the business finances. He retired with scorched ears, and got another dose when we both turned up for the further meeting, Ernst was b….y furious. I did point out that his question put him in a very dicey situation legally, and Head Office might want to know about his cave man attitudes.
    Gae, in Callala Bay

  4. In 1995, I applied for a small house loan when living in rural NSW. I had a permanent well paying job but was told it was rejected as I wasn’t in a stable relationship (i.e married to a reliable man).
    The knock to my confidence to apply for loans kept me out of the property market, now I can’t afford it.

  5. At Uni in 1999 my lecturer was telling us about when she was on the curriculum committee for NSW highschool history [about 2 yrs before] and fighting to get women’s history into the classroom. Male teachers from a selective school were asking why their boys needed to learn about women (seriously). She responded that maybe they might want to marry one one day. She won but it was a hard fight and didn’t go as far as she wanted to.

  6. LOVE these contributions, thank you for sharing them people.
    Sunless Nick – really love your observation, too, soooo true.

  7. My mother was told in the early 80s that she’d need my dad’s signature to get a credit card. The story still makes her (and me) angry.
    (My mother though, probably wouldn’t identify as a feminist.)

  8. Not directly related to finances, but in the spring (in the US, so maybe April or May) of 2010, when I was going in for a consultation for a sterilization procedure, the doctor in question agreed to perform one if my partner signed a spousal consent form. (He is not now, nor was he then, my legal spouse.) When I filed a complaint with my state’s medical board (and then found a new doctor), their verdict was that nothing actionable had occurred.
    So, yeah. Women’s equality: still in the fighting.

  9. 1999 – my sister (sibling) and I applying for a joint mortgage on a house, had the term: SPINSTERS listed on on the mortgage papers after each of our names; when we balked at that term we were told: that is just the way the industry does it; when we asked what they put after an unmarried man’s name, they said: nothing… Yeah, we still have a long way to go.

  10. It’s only today that I stumbled upon this gem of a website, and I just have to express my absolute joy that I did. I’m a seventeen-year-old lipstick-wearing feminist who repeatedly gets laughed at for dubbing myself such a thing – because “only dykes are feminists” and I “couldn’t possibly” be a feminist looking the way I do, not to mention, “what’s the point of feminism, anyway?” (I’ll then reel off the facts they somehow don’t know, only to be smirked at, called a freak and then told to get a boyfriend.) Never is there a day that I don’t bewail the ignorance of young girls – my peers – when it comes to their own history, and so I thank you wonderful women for the job you are doing here in maintaining your righteous beliefs. And with such sass! My hopes are always reignited when I find sisters out there – so thank you, and right fucking on!

  11. This post is such a great reminder of how women fought for the rights and privileges that modern women are now enjoying. It makes it important to commemorate the great contribution of women’s rights advocates just so most of us around the world (if not everyone) get equal rights and are able to give back things to the community that only us girls can do! 🙂

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