Does "Feminist" Have To Be A Dirty Word?

What happened to you, that turned you into a feminist, or equalist?

Becky Roehrs
6 min readNov 14, 2018

I was talking with a friend recently. She was stunned, that when I was looking for my first job, newspapers divided ads for jobs into two categories: "Men's Jobs" and "Women's Jobs." Why?

"When was this," you ask, "the 1940's"? Try the 1970's in the United States. It was assumed that women couldn't do the same work as men; and that men wouldn't want to do the work women did.

woman-wearing-brown by Daria Shevtsova (CC0 1.0)

When I was growing up in the 1960s and '70s, everyone thought women would be wives and mothers. Men would be breadwinners.

Neither sounded fair to me, which I said at inopportune times. That landed me in trouble with various authority figures. So what lowish-wage occupations could women aspire to then?

  • Nurse (not a doctor), school teacher (not principal),
  • Secretary (not the manager), bookkeeper (not an accountant)
  • Hairdresser (not owner), stewardess (not a pilot), or model (not a designer).
Pacific_Southwest_Airlines_female_flight_attendants By Unknown [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Okay, stewardess sounded cool, but at that time, I was shy, and couldn't see asking folks, "coffee, tea or ?".

This lack of choices made me angry.

Today when people ask, "why didn't or don't women pick better-paying jobs?

I wonder if they know how long women spent their lives working in a handful of occupations. And women were not even eligible for employment if they had pre-school children?

A Women's History moment

It wasn't until 1971 that the Supreme Court ruled that employers could not refuse to hire women if they had pre-school children (it was a-ok if men had pre-school children, I guess because they had wives?).

It wasn't until 1973 that the Supreme Court ruled it was illegal to separate ads for jobs by gender.

GenXer's are very different! I've met GenXer's who assume that men and women can get a job doing…



Becky Roehrs

A feminist who writes about politics, humor, relationships, and mental health. Sarcastic and silly. Loves coffee and canoeing.