February is Women’s History Month. I have never understood why we have month’s designated for certain groups. We are all part of history. Still, here we are – and I will enjoy the celebrations.
I was a working woman during the Mad Men era. The times when if married a woman could not have her own credit card or bank account. When women in slacks were forbidden in business offices. When so many ridiculous conventions were in place. And during these times - actually, I had fun.
The fact that I had fun and challenges means this is not a rant against men. Men were some of our biggest champions and mentors. It was the times. The rules and laws of the land pertaining to women were restricting, unfair and absurd. Our job as women was to work in, around, and through the laws that affected us – and make changes.
Different women made changes in different ways. When no insult or harm seemed intended; my initial response was to respond with humor. A little humor seemed to put things into perspective. An example: In a meeting and the only woman present, the chairman looking directly at me asks, ‘shall we have coffee?’ My response, ‘no thank you.’ He smiled. Point taken.
In the doctor’s office (very few female physicians then) the doctor solicitously says: ‘shall we get on the table?’ My response, ‘after you.’ Oops.
Waiting for an appointment with the man in charge. Oh, I was expecting MR. John Zimmerman. Response, “Sometimes my handwriting is terrible, I’m Joan, nice to meet you.’
Asking CEO for money to launch a women’s political caucus. His questions: How much and for what? $10,000 to unseat some of your friends from political office. Knowing nod of the head, request granted.
Sometimes humor can smooth the way to meaningful dialogue. Sometimes not. So long as it is not ugly or cutting humor, it’s a good place to start. Elbert Hubbard’s Scrapbook – a wedding present 67 years ago, has a quote that still rings true: To succeed in life you need three things: A wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone.
Yes, we’ve come a long way. There are still miles to go. However, we must keep telling ourselves – if we are too busy to laugh, we are too busy.
Thanks Mom – you led the way.
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With each new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)