Lee Pitts: Women’s Suffer-Age | TSLN.com

Lee Pitts: Women’s Suffer-Age

If I was a woman I’d be a radical feminist and darn tired of sick jokes like, “My wife ran off with my best friend and I miss him.” Or, “women have smaller feet so they can stand closer to the sink,” or a sign on the door of a hardware store, “Gone to wife’s funeral. Back in half an hour.”

Women have long been oppressed. In the 1400’s a man was allowed to beat his wife as long as the stick he used was smaller in circumference than his thumb. That’s where we get the phrase, “as a rule of thumb.” And listen to Napoleon Bonaparte’s feelings about the fairer sex: “Nature intended women to be our slaves… they are our property; we are not theirs. They belong to us, just as a tree that bears fruit belongs to a gardener. What a mad idea to demand equality for women! Women are nothing but machines for producing children.”

It’s only been in the last 100 years that women have been looked upon as anything other than babysitters and housecleaners. James Fargo, brother to the founder of American Express said, “When the day comes that American Express has to hire a female employee, it will close its doors.” If I was a woman I think I’d tear up my American Express card upon hearing that.

If you think women are discriminated against in the workplace now consider that in 1900 for a woman to be a telephone operator she had to be between 17 and 26 and be unmarried. Up until Pearl Harbor half of the then 48 states had laws making it illegal to employ a married woman!

I used to be proud that we in the west were more open-minded because we were the first to give women the right to vote, initially in Wyoming and then Colorado, Idaho and Utah. Then I learned the real reason wasn’t that we were thinking with our brains but another part of our anatomy, as men often do. In the west in 1850 it’s estimated there were only 3,000 women to 70,000 men and the sight of a woman was a rare treat. Of the 36,000 people who arrived in San Francisco in one Gold Rush year only 2,000 were women and it’s estimated that females made up only 2 to 4% of the entire population of San Francisco. At a dance in Gold Country there were 150 men and only 9 women.

The west’s politicians and newspapermen laid awake nights trying to devise schemes to lure more women westward and one was to give them greater legal freedoms than they enjoyed east of the Mississippi. For example, California passed a law that all assets a woman accumulated prior to marriage and during her marriage were hers to keep. Giving women the right to vote was just another one of those enticements and it had nothing to do with we westerners being more fair.

Honeymoons didn’t last long in the west. If a man did manage to find a wife soon she was being treated like a hired hand or a piece of furniture. The western man was open-minded only in that he was more than willing to let his wife do her half of the chores… and his too. Any man’s topic of conversation was more important than anything a female might say and women were being mistreated in Hollywood long before Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby came along. Roy Rogers’ horse Trigger got higher billing than Roy’s wife Dale Evans did.

It all makes you wonder what women ever liked about men to begin with.

I was President of the California Association of the FFA in 1970 when females were allowed to be members. I was all in favor of the move then but had I known that in just a few short years they’d be beating the boys at every turn I might have been of a different mind. But the genie is out of the bottle now and I agree with the anonymous sage who said, “any woman who seeks to be equal to man lacks ambition.”

So men, don’t be surprised that someday soon revenge-seeking women will take over the world. And when they do, just like in the west, it too will be a far better place.

Lee Pitts