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If anyone had told the young woman I was in the 70s what very little.......

(99 Posts)
seeker Mon 01-Oct-12 13:27:49

.......actual progress would have been made in changing attitudes to women in society by 2012, I think I would have jumped off the Forth Bridge.

rosabud Mon 01-Oct-12 23:11:47

I agree with all the frustrating things, particulary the growth of the porn industry etc BUT

Don't underestimate the huge pogress in attitudes that have happened in the last 40 years. Women earning enough to stay single if they choose too, women organising varied and interesting social lives (don't forget women in the 70s DID NOT go into pubs on their own!), women sharing domestic duties (my father nearly fell apart laughing in 1975 when my mother asked if he wouldn't mind running the hoover round - needless to say he dined out on that story for years and still, to this day, has no idea how to plug the thing in), domestic violence taken seriously (well, at least more seriously - remember all those 70s actors like Sean Connery and Denis Waterman who thought the odd slap was necessary to keep the wife in line), the phrase THE WIFE - how I hated my dad using that phrase, I genuinely don't hear it so often these days, women taking on proper roles in all the careers they choose to go into eg women in the police doing all the jobs rather than desk jobs, women firefighters, the change in terminology from WPC to police officer or headmaster/mistress to headteacher etc, women on the news (OK they are not allowed grey hairs but at least they are there, they weren't in 1970), women choosing when to have families, women breasfeeding in public..........

it's not perfect but it's certainly progress!

GrimmaTheNome Mon 01-Oct-12 23:12:15

One of the things that was better in the 70s was that there was an ICI then, even if it apparently had a hiring rule of 70% of staff must be called Dave.... clearly the sisterhood represented on this thread is woefully ignorant of industry, science and the finance pages if they think there's still an ICI to be chair of sad

But...my DD dresses like blackcurrant and seeker etc, most of the time (from choice) She's heading to be a scientist or engineer and doesn't have any riduculous notion that such professions aren't for women. She played with lego and k'nex etc far more than 'girl' toys. Yesterday she had me explain to her firstly what exactly a mortgage was and then the chemical principles of reusable handwarmers....

and I bet lots of MN'ers could say similar. I reckon our girls will give short shrift to dinosaur sexism.

frankie4 Mon 01-Oct-12 23:13:50

Tribpot - I only meant that in relation to how it was in the 1970s, when it was assumed that women did all the housework and it was not as acceptable for women to work when they had young children. So it has improved since then, although obviously I don't believe men are doing us a favour by letting us do this! We dont notice the change when it happens so gradually, as it is now normal for men to do much of the housework and looking after the children (well my dh does anyway!). This was very unusual in the 1970s.

Alameda Mon 01-Oct-12 23:16:23

I don't really remember different toys for girls and boys, not in the way they are marketed now anyway, but with three brothers and three sisters I don't remember any of us being especially given gendered things. Except my Sindy and horse, but I had tonka trucks and eagle-eyes (he was an action man, I loved him) and we all had bikes and skate boards and roller skates that were unisex.

Am looking at a photo of most of us (me and siblings) right now and it is not immediately obvious which are the boys and which the girls, all in trousers, all with quite untidy longish hair. I look nice in my spotty Dalmatian furry jacket though smile

Alameda Mon 01-Oct-12 23:18:08

ah hello eagle eyes

GrimmaTheNome Mon 01-Oct-12 23:19:44

AA...OTOH, some girls (like me and DD) have long hair because we can't be arsed to go to the hairdressers. It was the ones who cared about fashion (or had mothers who did) who had shorter cuts in my day. I don't think it was necessarily about femininity or otherwise.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 01-Oct-12 23:23:18

>I don't really remember different toys for girls and boys,

Really? I remember being given a dolls' house, dolls, art type stuff. Brothers had lego and scalextrics and trains. Boys were given chemistry sets and electronics kits - despite being a sciency girl, no-one ever thought to offer those to me (DD of course has them -she has an iron...a soldering iron!)

Alameda Mon 01-Oct-12 23:33:41

not like today though, I meant the idea of different bikes/balls/skates for girls and boys or that cars were for boys and cuddly toys for girls

we all had pretty similar stuff, a lot was pooled (eg scalextric set belonged to everyone) I wonder if we were communists?

Alameda Mon 01-Oct-12 23:40:32

or maybe there were just too many of us to bother buying lots of special things for

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 01-Oct-12 23:40:53

Nice one, Grimma's DD!

Rape within marriage is illegal. When I feel like abandoning all hope about progress, I try and remember that one.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 01-Oct-12 23:42:27

Of course there were different bikes for girls... boys had crossbars, girls had dropped frame so you could ride in a skirt.

Alameda Mon 01-Oct-12 23:45:11


I just don't remember that, we had grifters and bmx bikes

Alameda Mon 01-Oct-12 23:47:02

am going to google to see if there were different versions for boys and girls, but I can only remember everyone customising their own - was it the grifter that you could put different gear knobs, similar to a car?

Alameda Mon 01-Oct-12 23:47:46

I was born in 1971 if that makes any difference

SmokyClav Tue 02-Oct-12 00:19:36

Ha! It has just clicked what oatybeatie is!


TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 02-Oct-12 07:05:48

Ooh, with me too, Smoky!

GrimmaTheNome Tue 02-Oct-12 10:00:36

>I was born in 1971 if that makes any difference
possibly, given the thread title! I was born in 1961 so the 70s was when I had bikes... choppers came out, rarely saw a girl on one, before BMX and I don't know what a grifter was. Girls needed bikes decently rideable in skirts if they used them for transport to school, Guides, Girl's Brigade or whatever.

I seem to remember most out-of-school activities, such as they were - except Sunday School/Church youth groups - being gender divided - unlike the huge range of things DD can choose from now.

Xenia Tue 02-Oct-12 10:35:37

It is hard to generalise but I think girls were outside more whereas by the time my daughters were teeangers in the 90s the fact they spent 10 hours on each of Sat and Sunday at riding stables and basically outside was probably less common but I suspect was good for them. They probably were out more than I wqas. I remember our mother complaining about sunny Sunday afternoons with us watching old black and white films on the television in the 70s.

My father did the hoovering at weekends in the 60s and 70s although I agree that things are even more even now.

I think things have improved. However we have more media but that does not mean all girls choose to exposed to the same media as other girls. We certainly bought books in the mid 80s which were from a feminist bookclub which showed women out earnings, men at home etc etc and I don't think that did any harm at all even if Jane the plumber picture books did seem a bit funny at the time. I am happy my daughters in their mid 20s have careers in the same way I always have had over nearly 30 years. I am sure that is in part because of feminism and my example and that of fair non gender divided images around them.

KRITIQ Tue 02-Oct-12 10:36:25

Interesting question!

I would say that some things have improved related to the status and rights of women and girls, in the UK and globally, but other things have either not changed, or new "issues" have arisen that have had a negative impact on women and girls and on equality and human rights generally.

In the late 70's when I was a teen, I could have never imagined the existence of the internet, let alone that it could be used as a vehicle for transmitting violent porn to small children. I couldn't have imagined the impact of porn on so many aspects of our popular culture.

The late 70's was a relatively liberal period, at least in the US where I was living. I probably would have thought that by now, there would still be the need to fight to ensure reproductive rights.

I also don't think I could have imagined that there would be so much more gender segregation in toys, interests and clothing. That was something that I would have seen as an artifact from the 1950's.

seeker Tue 02-Oct-12 10:37:22

I think we may be viewing the past through rose coloured glasses- certainly in my childhood, girls were at the back of the queue for a go at the Scalextic! Just like now, really.........

I think, though, that because "things" generally were more expensive. A bike cost the same number of pounds when I was 16 as one would now. So you wouldn't buy a specifically "girly" thing because it was the norm to hand down.

Interesting, too, that when people are talking about having gender neutral clothes and colours, they are actually meaning "boy" clothes or colours. As women we remember our few feminine things, because they were a big contrast with the masculine norm. I wore my brother's hand me downs- it was ok for a girl to wear boy's clothes, but it wouldn't have been OK for a boy to wear girl's clothes.

KRITIQ Tue 02-Oct-12 11:24:59

Seeker, are you perhaps of a "later vintage?" than I was?

When I speak of wearing more "gender neutral" clothing as a child, I didn't see these as either masculine or feminine. The only garment worn by one sex and not the other would be a skirt or dress. For the most part, this was only for church or "fancy" occasions, and rarely in pink.

Here is a shot of kids in a playgroup in my local village around 1974. The photo is quite faded, but one can see a range of colours and clothing styles on boys AND girls. The only two children who appear to be wearing pink tops are the young boy and girl at the front on the left!

This is a children's party in the village around the same time. Again, only one girl seems to be wearing pink while four are wearing wholly blue tops.

And here is a school classroom around 1971. Again, primary colours but no pink on the girls.

I do think there was a relatively liberal "culture" in education and childrearing practice in the 70's, where at least some teachers and parents made a conscious decision not to perpetuate gender, racial or disability stereotypes. Doesn't mean it was an egalitarian paradise at all! But even in the extremely conservative community I grew up in, there were books, toys, materials, etc. at least in the school that were more "representative" and we looked back and laughed at some of the depictions in books from even a decade before, still in the dusty corners of the library.

The point about the cost of the bicycle though is relevant. I don't believe that all manufacturers of toys, books, games, etc. are deliberately setting out to create gender discrimination. I think many will have grown up in a time when they were told that discrimination was a "thing of the past," so probably aren't focussing on the potential negative impact of their products. However, I think they are more motivated by the desire for profits. Why sell only one bicycle/baby bed/set of clothes/etc. to a family that can be passed from one child to the next? Why not create a demand for two lots of these products by making parents think that the same product will not be suitable for a boy AND a girl.

I don't think this is necessarily a good thing in terms of use of financial resources, or the impact on the environment of so much extra waste. Also not good in creating "segmentation" of the market which reinforces gender stereotypes.

KRITIQ Tue 02-Oct-12 11:26:13

Sorry - correct link for the school classroom above!

GrimmaTheNome Tue 02-Oct-12 11:33:30

There's a 1970s Argos catalog online. There are indeed low-frame bikes marked 'unisex' - perfect for handing down- but there's also a specifically 'boy's' racing bike - none for the girls.

EatsBrainsAndLeaves Tue 02-Oct-12 11:40:09

I agree with you. Clothes were more sex neutral then and clothes would be handed down from boys/girls to boys/girls. Yes there were some clothes that were sex specific - dresses, skirts, shirts, but a lot of these were worn for dressing up or special occasions. The jeans, t-shirts, shorts and jumpers combo was pretty sex neutral most of the time.

EatsBrainsAndLeaves Tue 02-Oct-12 11:42:53

And its not that I think things were a paradise back in the 70's, but there was a much stronger culture around letting children be children rather than mini adults. Yes we wanted to grow up quickly too, but as young girls we werent allowed make up, girly clothes, false nails, tans, etc. We werent expected to look "hot" or "sexy" and were encouraged to just play and be kids.

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