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The following tape recorded program was produced in the studios of KPFA Berkeley California under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters in connection with the series the American woman in fact and fiction recently presented by the station. We offer a panel discussion recorded under informal circumstances in the KPFA studios. The participants in the discussion are Mark Schorer writer and professor of English literature at the University of California Ethel Albert and for apologist and recent fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the behavioral sciences at Stanford University Dr. Anna Mencken Berkeley psychiatrist Peter Gold a guard professor of political science at the University of California and former president of Reed College Miriam Allen the Ford writer of San Francisco and Virginia Maynard writer and director of the series on the American woman in fact and
fiction. As a starting point for the following conversation each participant read the chapter entitled The ordeal of the American woman which appears in the book America as a civilization by Max Lerner published in 157 by Simon and Schuster. The most continuous American revolutionary rights learner is the American woman. First there was the suffrage revolution as part of the long hard fought movement for equal rights in which a succession of strong minded women in the face of jeers and humiliation broke into previously barred professions and won the right to an equal education with men to speak in public to vote for and hold office. Second there was the sexual revolution directed against the double standard of morality and aimed again for women some of the same privileges of sexual expressiveness as the men had it coming in the wake of the Equal Rights Movement. It was a phase that once of the revolt against Puritanism and of the dislocations
caused by the First World War. Related to the revolution of morals was third the revolution of manners with women shedding their cumbersome garments and adopting form fitting clothes and revealing swimsuits and shorts taking part in sports driving cars and even piloting planes serving in war time as wax and waves smoking cigarettes and drinking in public. Fourth says Lerner there was the kitchen revolution with mechanized kitchens and canned and prepared foods giving some women greater leisure and enabling others to get industrial and clerical jobs. Finally there was the jobs revolution which transformed the American working force as it also transformed women's role in the economy. In one thousand twenty there were eight million women holding jobs in 1955. There were more than 27 million comprising over 30 percent of the labor force. During the first quarter of the present
century says Max Lerner the American woman strove for equal rights with men having achieved them. She has spent the second quarter wondering about the result. A section from Max learner's America as a civilization. The chapter the ordeal of the American woman we are about to join the discussion now as the panelists are talking about recent book length publications concerned with modern woman Wiley's generation of vipers as mentioned Margaret Mead's male and female the Kinsey Report and the Lundberg says modern woman the last sects someone mentions a very recent work in titled The trouble with women. The conversation turns to magazines and newspapers. Regular contributors to this unprecedented flow of comment on the American woman from a large stack of clippings on the table around which the panelists are seated. The moderator selects a number of Representative items from recent periodicals cartoons illustrating some facet of the
so-called woman question articles and interviews with various commentators on the American scene. Some of the titles are red U.S. women told to forget the qualities as one. It took courage and research to say women are people goes and other American women want to be everything reads yet another. The report of an interview with a British born journalist Alastair Cook. Does all this comment bear out learner's contention that the American woman is undergoing an ordeal as the moderator. If so what is the nature of the ordeal. The modern dilemma. We hear the response of psychiatrist and I'm thinking of. I don't see any deal but what I think he holds in our Deal of an American woman seems to be based on insecurity of the American woman about herself as it is there is a confusion of the role women that think you mention the cartoons you
mentioned they all make fun of the multiple functions of an American woman today as if she is. If he lives a number of different levels at the same time with the result that she doesn't know where she actually belong as if her sense of identity is confused. Well the usual arsing wife mother or Sir community of Arkham wanted to become the full force for a while then to switch back to cook and housekeeper and in between the sophisticated lady at a cocktail party. What is she really. She handled the budget she is planning. Practically everything in the family. It seems to me that it is a mini general job she is managing things. Won't previous times. Either broke the bacon room and cook it and there didn't
seem to be a very great problem about the role. Now all her activities do not satisfy her. She has to paint or learn to fly an airplane to express herself. Why the experts are injured while eating well. Only one thought at this point and possibly because she does not think of herself first and last as her family but she thinks of herself as an individual all who does an expert job and may need expert jobs in and for her family her existence does not consist in being someone but in doing something she lives in different levels of activity. There is no wonder of course that her sense of identity is confused. The point I wanted to bring out is the difference in being and doing Dr Oda garden then presented his view.
Seems to me you've gotten two kinds of views here and that there is a kind of image of women and it is an image I think there are many images of women and their countless different roles that women play. And I think the image that you may have of women will depend upon your class status. I suspect that the image of women that was held for example by the IRA stock were seriously 18th 17th 18th century was a quite different in the age of women that was held by the Russian peasant. And I suspect that's true today and most of the discussions that appear in the paper. Are written by leisure class people. People have time on their hands and don't know what to do with it. Most of them are not applicable in my judgment to the vast majority of
working women their wives and sweethearts sisters of miners and farmers and tell them as I see it this business of male female man woman is a pretty elemental business after all it's the most elementary of all the divisions of labor in nature and it does represent fundamentally a difference of a division of labor a difference of function and biological function in the world. And it's just fantastic to assume that a division of labor and a differential of function so proponent on the spot should not result in differences of temperament of point of view who value loans and so on. I read an article some years ago by Floyd Allport a psychologist in Harper's magazine in which he argued that.
Talk about differences sex differences was a lot of nonsense that sex differences were socially imposed never conventional No. Entirely so if you see women as they are you see them as just I suppose it's without gender and this business of the DI sexualize a version of vote for male and the female in the process of forgetting the elementary function of this division of labor. Makes me a bit impatient. Well now Marian before Diane I don't want to disagree. Yes you see me bursting. I don't want to go out on a tangent or I would take you up on that I could talk for an hour on that point. As a matter of fact it has not be sexualizing anybody nearly 100 percent of the so-called male or female characteristics outside of the primers sex secondary sexual characters are the matter of
training of conditioning of sociology not of biology. I think this is true but they arise from the taoist. Thanks approach nothing we want to remember is of the something much more basic than the differentiation the male and female Sypher and cherish and into human beings and non-human beings we are all primarily human and the least important thing about most of us is that whether where they all feel man or female feel oh god how. Oh yeah you did right. Gonna try as you say I do what I want to say Protect Your only as and far more I got angry here and now that I think if there is a dilemma it is a much more universal dilemma than the lemma either of the American woman or a woman. I think we're living in a time of profound transition where living in a time at present of probably the worst insecurity even beyond the and security of life and in the dark ages in other words a time of fear. It's a universal dilemma.
Well I heartily agree with what you said and I think that those of us who've done some work in anthropology or particularly impressed by the incredible contrasts as you move from one culture to another where as I think I mentioned to you earlier and Africa it is taken for granted that the woman is the appropriate one to do hard labor and I think it's a role the curious that. Women in my country are able to get the men to do the hard work and I think that's not fair because those poor chaps you know kept carrying all these heavy things and work such long hours and they're not a lot. You know they go off and get drunk or stop and visit. And you get down to some very simple things like basket weaving in one culture this is obviously a male occupation and another it's just as obviously a female occupation. And I think that to follow your line you go on from there to the differences out of sight between people who have a skin one color or another or who speak one language or another. It isn't that there aren't any differences is that we have to backtrack and find out
what the differences really are and then I think raise the question what difference it makes the fact that one creature is female and one male makes a certain difference at least biologically and perhaps in other ways. But is it necessarily the case that because you are female you are better at French than at mathematics or that you ought to stay home and cook instead of guy out to do something I think that the differences have to be re-evaluated later. Dr. Olga Gardner referred again to the question of women and labor. A social tradition customers are well known so far. Also the distribution of the sexes. I just returned from the Soviet Union where they lost some ten million people on the left with even a few shortage of men and a great deal of the things that we noticed in the Soviet Union in the night when they probably
would not be doing if they were not with this equipment. I suspect the same is true of the technological revolution that's taking place in the United States and Europe which when going into industry and going into business so professions have a much greater rate than ever before in history. Then Doctor or the guard brought up the point that all through history women have been placed in a position of subservience in relation to men and said Dr oligarchic this has been part of our culture from the beginning. As armor goes to the player ever since the patriarchal says no you're not I am like I'm curious to know our culture whether or not the person died let me interview down then may not be back and this is changing and changing perhaps very fast. I remember of the Seneca Falls meeting in 1840 I do when the kids are going to move. But I remember you remember the routine of looking at how much money do you think as a
citizen in Riyadh for you would have been eating just 200 years ago. I was asked why it was that teachers occupied such an inferior position in American society and were paid such low wages particularly elementary school teachers and her reply to this group was this she says so long as teaching is open to women and women occupying most of the teaching profession teaching is going to suffer in our culture. And only when it becomes pressed did use occupation such that men will enter. And as a matter of fact if you look at the structure of American education the elementary school teacher was usually a woman is the bottom of the heap in terms of status in terms of income. Next is the high school teacher and this is
somewhat higher and the university professor is on it in a different world. Well I suspect there is a sex factor that I would undertake to contradict earlier. I agree with the first statement you made but not with the evidence you're offering it is a huge variety of English speaking countries namely Great Britain and our own country. But the teaching professions are a cause for comedy rather than respect the British schoolmaster the very male is not a respected figure. And that isn't my experience. Well he may be that way in some places he may be considered worthwhile but from what information I have been given the teaching professions are not on or in the academic professions are not honored as much as a lot of say making a lot of money or even for that matter performing in public at all events there is some question I think whether the entry of males into the elementary educational system has helped very much. If you consider the kind of second jobs in elementary school male teacher has to take a
janitor or something else that isn't yours and hardly leaves it even in elementary schools for example the jobs that pay most and that have most prestige which are at now. Administrating joggers athletic coach I have jobs that you really go to to me and have a start and incidentally the jobs that most resemble business to get tossed you approach the business you need a more prestige to have a businessman's culture. OK maybe the sex factor I'm I'm overloading your body. I think writing a sex discrimination accounts for the lower position of women not the lower position of woman for the lack of respect for the teaching profession. Well I got a letter of the law we leave that phase of the subject I'd like to mention very briefly a book that I imagine I'm the only person around here who has ever read because it's very old and is full of faults and was now extremely outmoded but has an extremely interesting thesis and I
you may know of Dr machen. The dominant sex by Mental Image title there's room for and here I am not translated by Eden and cedar Paul. Well there there remain places which I think is extremely interesting and very suggestive is that there is a sort of pendulum swaying as social and economic and political changes come about and our history which at one time say with the beginning of agriculture the patriarchal family man gradually becomes the dominant sex and there's a period of equilibrium which we're maybe approaching our gradually woman becomes the dominant sex and so on but that is not their main thesis. Their main thesis which I think is extremely interesting and valuable is that the characteristics which we ascribe to women. Are you know they talk too much they their cash. You know that sort of thing. Those are always the characteristics attributed to the
subordinate sex. Whereas most courage and adventure are so small I started winning are the characteristics not of men or of women but of the dominant sex in any one period in which once I was dominant over there I thought of this book. Later Dr. Minkin returned to the present situation in the United States and made this point about the American woman's newfound freedom. Well this freedom from all and any tensions conflict and struggles. What happens to the woman is freeing herself by innumerable gadgets. She has more time but I'm afraid. That she is losing his enjoyment of feeding and caring for her family. The complete relaxation IDEO meal which ends in Nirvana is a tragically a death idea because life is changing and struggle and conflict and I feel
that our identity as a human being man or woman grows out of this struggle and conflict and tension it grows out of it not out of me. Now I wonder if the panelist will agree to take on Doctor making one of the time you write looks as if you are a silly Rabbi gathered up on your partner in the Ford maybe i'm sure you know well I'll yield to Dr Ambedkar I replied like the guy in the street just an amendment to what our parents and the first person and she already lied and all of the things that she so eloquently described are characteristic also an American male who thinks look at the ads for retirement like fish who have no parasites completely vaccination. I would like to suggest this amendment. I don't go to many movies and I don't see many television programs and I don't read many of the pulp magazines so I'm not good with those. Your mindless likes the paps aren't
like that at all IMO. But I was under and directly I get the impression that. Both the young male and the young female want to do is to get rid of all the struggle and of problems so that they can spend all of their time in the battle of the sexes. Does all of that so that the amendment I would suggest is that we wish to emancipate ourselves from the problems of the family in the home and children from the problems of business and industry from the problems of politics and world peace and so on so that we can all spend our time chasing each other until we catch each other and so that the struggles of life which have filled the lives of people through the Asians will be simplified and reduced to the simple elementary struggle
known as the battle of sex. Back to the trees. Well all I'm suggesting is that this is the pattern I get from the ads as the pattern I get from the movie is the passion I get from television programs that people in the movies and neither. They don't spin the radio so they chase one another. I think they get very much for the answer to that is that one is being called our youth centered culture has produced that over emphasis perfectability on on the hand the thoughtless happiness of childhood which means that both boys and girls never grow up. I think what we have is a sort of thought alarm Folse some of this in addition to some of us read the discussion of American society continue. Mark Schorer addressed a question to Dr. Elders and I want a yes or a no is in your conception American society a matriarchy are not
technically of the patriarchy. I think functionally like most societies it's a matriarchy. Like most decide yes I have seen a real patriarchy functioning and the women run the show and the men that when they make the American momma look like an amateur. The wife has to serve her husband kneeling and then when company is gone she has me wrapped around her little manger. No I'm talking about Sandra Oh it was apparent to me whenever and wherever you go for I think that women pay man back. Well I'm going to go. Can I ask about this because it troubles me. I've heard that time ago heard in a French society that the French women for example when they were struggling for the right to vote they didn't stumble very hard because everybody said that about what you always say of the French woman she really runs the show all the same is true of that is being said now the Swiss women because the same issue is up there. It's been said of American society as it has as you say it's been said of every society.
I wonder if there isn't a kind of rationalize nation I which the ruling dominant male sex which exploits and and and and this treats its women doesn't somehow. Put a blow on it especially Well yes after all she kneeled says she I had like this character recently recorded in a paper called his wives into the hair or even have their teeth pulled because they violated an injunction against smoking. I dare say he was happy. Yes but they really rule me. Good for you. Well I think that I'll backtrack this far. I think that what happens I go right back to the book the dominant sex the major thesis of which I tend to agree with. I think that it puts a premium on cleverness. Whenever you have a powerful versus a submissive group whether it's a difference in
a nation or a difference in sex a clever woman. Runs her husband in a patriarchal society. I'm not so clever one is really in bad condition and I think it's very comparable to the kind of thing that occurred in feudal society where if you had a good Lord then it was a lot dandy to be a serf or in slavery if you had a good mind it was dandy to be a slave but heaven help you if you had a bad one. As I think that this extend I will say that it seems to me find it strange to have a situation of greater proximity quality without the need to rely on the goodwill of the superior and they cover it as of the inferior for things to be run. Just one final point I want to say. We said in America that and I said it to the lady so a few years ago and said well look at up to that. They never have. That's the America the woman really runs things here. And yet if
you want to compliment a woman you tell her she thinks like a man. You don't compliment a man by telling him he thinks like a woman or that he drives like a woman. Notwithstanding the fact that women probably have fewer accidents in their hand or should wear them better dervish. Nevertheless there is this dominant sex and I suspect a great deal of the store's back to this kind but I'm not going to be hanging around our foot is the man happy who runs anything either I keep coming back to that people have problems and even men have problems and sometimes when I'm feeling like joking as I do at this moment I want now that I've got over being an adolescent suffragette to start a society to give men equal rights with women they need it. I would like to carry this just a step further and say that not only is what I just read Dr. AAGAARD said true but also there is a certain amount of sub conscious and I at the size of knowledge is certainly not conscious
resentment on the part of a great many men especially men of the articulate professions. The overt privileges and superiority and homage that they have lost which expresses itself by such remarks is that just like a woman there are women that never say anything directly women never finish their sentences etc. etc. etc.. I suspect that part of the so called has my share is that precisely at this point namely that it is no longer true. These things no longer really apply and then go out and they don't like it and I don't like underneath his dislike it extremely well. Coming back to this country from our pearl and Europe I was impressed by the differentness of American women and their relative and apparent on feminine This compared with other ladies. What do you mean by fellow. Well when a woman shakes your hand if she's an American you know your hand's been shook. Whereas the French lady gives you her hand why it's a
much more centered on her right out of us but I think probably the primary difference is one of strategy rather than descriptive fact. I think that a given individual variation in any country some Frenchwomen some African women run their husbands and some get run by them and some American women run their husbands and some get run by them. But American women lack the delicacy to conceal their dominance. For some time later Dr Oda Guard returned to a point brought out by Dr. Minkin at the outset of the discussion the women's feeling of insecurity which the doctor told the guards affects the sex problem. Then he submitted the following observations. There are quite a hundred done and about four or five million more women in the United States that Romney could answer. It's awkward and politically it may be awkward if you're active or take any interest in public affairs for example you know that the approach to public affairs of a
women's organization such as the League of Women Voters is quite different from that of men and not really that I know of no comparable male organization to the League of Women Voters. Where you got a rational thoughtful approach to a public problem where you have a whole room full of dedicated Republican women voting for a New Deal program upon the basis of a reasonable and rational analysis that is a frightening aspect. Well not on the part of our American system of having relegated all cultural and intellectual pursuits. We've been in the notice of the businessman who is that supposed to be American. Very good you know this has just come out and clearly said the business of America is business and everything else is a perennial thing that's holding rational information to knowledge of going to the city council in Berkeley or in Oakland and watch
who attends the city council meetings and listens and keeps up its women. There are very few minutes any leisure and they come home and tell their husbands what's going on in their city and and men are being sensitive to this. Worried about arctic chill I think but there they should be because that's a very feminine thing to do. It is indeed it really is that is to for a woman to inform her husband of what goes on is done in America as a matter of fact. It seems to me that this power behind the throne image is very very again very calm in the picture and it's one of the things a wife can do for a husband while he's busy earning a living with the drudgery of business or being a big American businessman or whatever. One of the things he can do is go and pay attention. And I may say I was very much time to time that by my African neighbors the definition of infidelity has nothing to do with with adultery. I mean adultery is just one of the things
people do when you don't put up with it. But she is considered unfaithful if she fails to report the local gossip that goes around at the chief's court. If when there are visitors and someone suggests that her husband's interests are not safe if she fails to tell him that he just sends her back home and takes his call back. What can I get as well as how I do this only to go to the meetings of the city and are interested and bored. And I didn't think about it but it just occurs to me now because it is connected. Was woman and instinctual impulses of the woman. She is taking care of her family and it is interesting that we are discussing women for 45 minutes now. The word Biological was mentioned only by you and we did not mention their role of the mother. Which means I made
what to me seems to be the most important thing in the role of the woman. And I regret that she is given our all so much priority in shaping the character of her children. I mean it was this but the holistic society on their outward and that is you get but that is a different question. I think that for women creativeness is most where it centers around children giving burst with a child is the woman's creation. So it's no use which I am now sick you just read was a document of my marriage of Lattimer's book Great so much that the American culture even have a quote here on the main drives in American culture creatively less assessable and congenial to women then to men one could conceive of an American woman who might be another and James but not a one who
The American woman in fact and fiction
Extra program: A panel discussion on the theme of the series, part 1 of 2
Producing Organization
KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This final program in the series brings together a panel of academics to discuss the theme of the series.
Other Description
This series, written and directed by Virginia Maynard, dramatizes various stories of women from colonial times to the Twentieth century.
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Director: Maynard, Virginia
Producing Organization: KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
Speaker: Albert, Ethel M.
Speaker: Odegard, Peter H., 1901-1966
Speaker: De Ford, Miriam Allen, 1888-1975
Speaker: Matheson, William
Subject: Lerner, Max, 1902-1992
Writer: Maynard, Virginia
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 59-19-14 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:55:15
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APA: The American woman in fact and fiction; Extra program: A panel discussion on the theme of the series, part 1 of 2. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from