Interview with Lenore Greising, Carol Kleiman and Joan Smutny
BROADCAST: Mar. 1, 1969 | DURATION: 00:54:20
Discussing "Woman power
Studs Terkel The laugh you hear are three women of the 20th century. Three guests this morning, the song you heard is a song of the 19th century. Yet it might be applicable today, it's one of the women's suffrage songs, a great deal of militancy at the time. This was sung and popular and particularly among the scrapping women, friends of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the others who also worked with Frederick Douglass for abolitionism of slavery. The song is about 100 years old and this morning in the year 1969, three guests are three Chicago housewives. That very phrase itself may have connotations. One of whom is a working woman, edits a column, writes the column "Working Woman," Carol Kleiman in the "Chicago Tribune," who may be housewives, who may not be, but who are working and there's Lenore Greising, who has eight children, and we have Joan Smutny, and we also have an event that's occurring this Wednesday. It's called, it's a one-day adult conference called "Woman Power" at the National College of Education in Evanston. But before we come to that, how you yourselves think. You heard the song just now. What's the thought in hearing this song? Carol?
Carol Kleiman I was thinking they could sing that today and probably go down the street and the only thing that would be different is they would be dressed differently. They would still be facing many of the same obstacles that women face today including abolitionism.
Studs Terkel As we're talking, you know, just we'll keep this [stream?] I hope autobiographical, too, because people say, "Well, who are you?" You see, in the past I've had as guests welfare mothers, ADC mothers, people from different strata of society. Basically would it be bad describe you, fair or unfair, describe you as middle-class women? You were that.
Lenore Greising Okay. Eight children, which means I started the family first and education afterwards. Our oldest daughter is a freshman in college, our littlest guy is four, there are five boys and three girls, and I've decided that I was going to do my bit by teaching, because teaching to me, well, I've seen it work with my kids. I've seen a teacher mold and change and delight my children and I've seen some teachers that have crushed everything that a child has by her attitude. So I thought with my practical experience I would teach, and in order to teach I'd need an education. So I went back to school to get this education. And I think this is the way I'm going to do my thing for fighting for freedom or whatever you want to call it. I'm going to get out there and get those little guys and start them out right. That's it.
Joan Smutny I can testify to what Lenore is saying. I had her in class and she was a marvelous student, straight A, so I think what she's saying has some validity to it. Let me tell you how I got in this business. I started teaching elementary school, went into high school at New Trier, and then university and college work. But I feel that a woman can have a career and a family and I'm all gung-ho continuity now. I used to think that you'd take some years off. I feel that a woman, even though it's part-time or full-time or whatever dimensional, whatever time aspect you want to use, you can have that full continuity. It doesn't have to be that breaking point, that it doesn't have to be all of a sudden, a woman gets herself into a homemaker cloister-house approach and then she doesn't see the outside world. Why not have continuity? There are lots of dimensions, lots of opportunities available, and I think this is probably why we're so gung-ho, this conference on the 12th, "Woman Power Through Education" inviting these women to take a look at all the opportunities open to them.
Studs Terkel I know with this conference obviously, is going to be a very thrilling one, particularly for the participants. But before we -- How about the conference yourselves, this matter of being autobiographical because people are saying, "Why?" What is -- Carol, as we're talking now, you know, Lenore's had to go back to school, you know, certain -- It's not meant to be a domestic relations program. You can't dissociate it from it. Yourself,
Carol Kleiman Carol, you. I was thinking the business of being a woman started for me when I was born and carefully being indoctrinated, the fact that, okay, you're a good student and you're this and you're that. But there are only certain things you're allowed to do. And I always believed it. I really did. I didn't question anything. And I worked on a newspaper, I -- One of those few journalists who took journalism in college and I usually don't mention that when I'm looking for a job. And I was married and then we came out to Chicago. I had grown up in Philadelphia and worked for the "Bulletin" and I was going to have a baby and it never occurred to me that I could continue writing or working. I was culturally deprived. It just didn't occur to me. And for two years I tried not to really do anything and tried not to miss it, and I really couldn't figure out why I, what I was looking for. I had this marvelous husband, whom I still have, and this one child who's now three times over. And then I began writing and selling it, and I wondered, "Am I happy because I'm getting paid for this or because I'm writing?" and I realized it really didn't matter. It just made me happy to be doing something. And even when I have three children when they were very small, when the youngest was about six months, they're each about a year and a half apart, I went to work. I was lucky to get into the newspaper world here, you know, in a new town. And talking about woman power, I really can't complain too much now, because I have the best of all possible worlds where I do have the children and I'm there, and I have my job and I'm there, and the husband.
Studs Terkel You know, I'm talking, as Carol Kleiman just said something, Joan, Lenore, that when she had the baby, see it never occurred to you that your work should be your create -- Well, that's creative too. But your creative work.
Lenore Greising I think you do. You don't mean to. I don't think you want to, because I always would think, oh, someday, someday. I never realized it could be now. Why not now? And it isn't that anyone ever had said, "This is the way it must" -- Maybe somebody did say, this is the way it must be, but you kind of go along, you're brainwashed, you think, okay, I can't do it, I'm I'm a mother. That's it. And I don't like just being a mother.
Joan Smutny It sometimes resolves itself into either/or; you either have a career or you stay at home. It's kind of an exclusion/inclusion kind of situation doesn't have to be at all. And sometimes I think women get the feeling that if they have children, they can't go back to nine-to-five work. Well, you could go back nine to 12; you could write; you could get involved in many things and you don't have to have a graduate work degree in order to do this. I think that sometimes as women we can be a little bit more flexible, open our thought a little bit more to all the avenues, open. I think sometimes we tend to stereotype ourselves. I think we accept superimposition of stuff upon us that we don't realize how we we accept all these patterns, these thought patterns and we don't think that we can break out from them because we have to take either nine-to-five, or have kids, or that's it, you know?
Carol Kleiman Something liberating had happened to me as I was nursing our second child and reading "The Second Sex" by Simone de Beauvoir who thinks that men are absolutely unnecessary at all. It was a great extreme for me to go to, I mean she proved conclusively, you know, how you can have babies without using a man at all. And it was so liberating. You know, it was really, I decided, "I'm not going to be victimized."
Studs Terkel You know, coming back to this. Even now as we're laughing, as we're talking, you know, this is interesting. This very fact that we're even laughing as we're talking, you see. People who consider themselves deprived, you know, are quite serious about it. There's laughter, but you see, in this case it's much more subtle, isn't it?
Lenore Greising Maybe.
Studs Terkel Let's come back to openings of the windows when this began or happened. We'll keep this free and easy. When you were a little girl, we'll go back this, you're a girl, right? There's a little boy, there's a little girl. Now, do you sense the fact that your life as far as creativity, aside from being -- Was it always the idea that you would be a housewife, a mother someday? Is that -- Was that was that what little girls are made of?
Lenore Greising Oh, I think little girls want to be grown-up mothers, I think. I never liked dolls, but I always liked boys and, I don't know, I think that, oh, I don't know when this happens. I I wouldn't want any woman, as far as I'm concerned with my daughters, I wouldn't want them not to be married and not to have children and not to have a home. That to me is incomplete also. But I wouldn't ever want them to feel that's all there was for them. They have so much more to give, not just a mother, not just a woman, but a woman all around, all around.
Joan Smutny Yes, I think this is a very important point. I think sometimes a stereotype prevails and you are whole and complete. When you married, when you have children, but if you take a larger definition of wholeness and completeness the capacity of a woman to contribute in many ways, we're not saying that to have children, to be at home and to be a homemaker is invalid, it's an incomplete state. We're just saying that there's so many dimensions that are available to the woman, to this individual, who's just really loaded with talent who wants to do something, well, her talents have really found such full expression in the home. Why shouldn't we use these talents? Why shouldn't these talents go on to benefit lots of mankind rather than the mankind of five people or 10 people?
Carol Kleiman But I don't think it even has to benefit anybody. If you, I think talent is death to hide. And if you have something you want to do, no one questions the satisfaction a man gets from his profession, his career. Why does it have to be justified?
Studs Terkel We're faced with something else now, with a great dissatisfaction on the part of men or women with work. You're talking now about creativity, doing something you like. Could we go back to something that Lenore said? She'd want her daughter to have. Suppose your daughter says to you, "I don't want to have a family, I want my, I want to be by myself, on my own without that." Isn't that also a prerogative.
Lenore Greising Oh, yeah. I I think so. I don't know, if children coming from a family where there are eight children would really care if they ever had their own. They'd probably be glad to get to live alone for a while without all those little ones around.
Studs Terkel The reason I ask you that is because, see, you wouldn't question a man or a boy who said, "I'm thinking of this work I'm doing," you see. But the thoughts of the terms of the girl, I mean we come back to this whole --
Lenore Greising Oh, and because -- Well, I guess I I feel strongly about the other. I think that's very fulfilling. I don't know if a man living -- I suppose a bachelor would enjoy his bachelorhood. But it's different for a woman.
Carol Kleiman Plus, you have to give each individual the right to make his own decision. I also interview women who like to stay home. I love to talk to women, I can't find many because the change -- Who will talk about it because the change that has come is they're a little embarrassed about being satisfied with staying home, you know. That things are at such a pitch now, this whole social revolution of women working. Well, there's also the part about the women who can work and decide they don't want to work. That's not it for them.
Joan Smutny And isn't part of this going back to this age-old question, the quest for identity? Whether you feel that wholeless and fullness and fulfillment in terms of your identity, staying home or going out or combining or having continuity of any of this, isn't this true, that this is what this woman is looking for, the fullness of her identity regardless in terms of how this is humanly expressed in her daily life.
Carol Kleiman To me what's interesting about it, though is that that quest doesn't usually start until a woman has already had children. Maybe we can undo that by bringing up our children to think about this now. But it's when they're 35 and they realize they're not old or worn out, and the kids are in school and it's lonely at home, and they have 35 more years to live, maybe more. They didn't, you know, 50 years ago.
Joan Smutny I think a distinct thing that we're coming to more and more is that colleges and universities should no longer close their doors to women who are over age 35. For example, in National College, you can be 99 and take some courses, and I think this is very important. We say women should go out, and women will say, "Well, I need an education." "Why don't you take a few courses, like to grow. I want to be intellectually stimulated," and the college or university says, "Well, sorry, old girl, you're over 35. You can't do it." and I think this is a very --
Joan Smutny That's right. I hear this from women all the time when I go around talking to women's clubs and they say, "Well, we'd like to do this. We'd like to be stimulated and take a course, but where can we go? Most of the colleges and universities in this country say if you're over 35 you can't. So by the very nature you get a dichotomy here, incongruity which needs to be corrected because we're moving into an era in which women are reaching out more and more. Well, the colleges and universities then are perfect answers, some of this perfect answer, to the women. And if we say, "Over 35 you can't do it," then by our very nature we're cutting off a huge talent supply to the country.
Studs Terkel You know, if we come, you know what be good before we hear more about this particular conference, this one-day adult conference, and ask you also about childcare centers and babysitters for this day. There's a woman named Sybil Thorndike. Sybil Thorndike is perhaps the most respected actress of the elderly actresses of the British theater, and she was a suffragist and a scrapper years, she was in, she's talking about the Trojan women, the play that women and "Lysistrata," of course, which were more specific event occurred and women protesting war, but she's talking about herself as a pacifist at the turn of the century.
Sybil Thorndike Yes, I'm a, been a pacifist for many years, ever since after the __ war and so I'm very much against using force. It was so funny, it was in the paper yesterday, I remember saying, "Don't -- Isn't there any cause for which you'd be willing to die?" Yes, lost of causes for which I'd be willing to die, but there is no cause that I'd be willing to commit murder, and kill, which is a different thing.
Studs Terkel Dame Sybil, things you say I think are worth textbooks, and certainly speeches of dozens of politicians. But you say it your way, and you have always come out, haven't you, even in the days when there was a fight for women's suffrage, there you were.
Sybil Thorndike Oh, yes. I was one of the, I was one of the suffrage party. I never was chained to any railings, I think it was because I was working all the time and didn't want to give up work. But it was my husband that twisted me to that. When I went to the repertory theater in Manchester, which was the first repertory theater in England, in the year 19-- Beginning of 1908, I met my husband for the first time. He was a mad, keen socialist and women's suffragette, suffragists and everything, and he was shocked and horrified to find I wasn't interested in politics. My goodness, I had to pull up my socks because I rather fancied him. I had to pull up my socks politically then. In three weeks' time I was taking the chair of the suffrage meeting.
Studs Terkel I was about to ask you, Dame Sybil, how you got this way. Then it was Sir Lewis, Sir Lewis Casson, who in the early days of your courtship and marriage. He -- Is he the one who led you, or was it before that,
Sybil Thorndike too? No, I was an ordinary solid, brought up as a good old solid conservative in a clergyman's household. I was always interested in religious things because naturally we were brought up in that atmosphere and it always interested me, and my father was a parson and I absolutely worshiped the ground he walked on, and thought whatever he said was come straight from God and that was wonderful. But I wasn't really interested in politics at all actively 'til I met Lewis, and he was so frightfully keen and I fell for him. Bang. And we were married three months after we met and I've never looked back. I'm a socialist now as I was then.
Studs Terkel Dame Sybil, there are so many roles with which you've been associated and celebrated for, and of course, we immediately think of Joan. [pause in recording]. And then, of course, she speaks of Joan of Arc. She was an actress, she created the role in England, of Joan. And so we come to the question of this woman who was an artist, you see, who respected a sedate background, at the same time knew there was something else, so she was in the middle of the scrap. But it wasn't just the rights of women, she was involved with others, too. This, again, comes back to the suffrage and abolitionism, doesn't it?
Lenore Greising Well, Joan Smutny taught Joan, St. Joan by George Bernard Shaw in one of her classes, and she kind of was out beating her drum for a cause and her cause was that, you know, woman should have something to say and not be home. But Carol said something before about a woman, and you mentioned child-care centers. I think, if a woman has to work, or has to stay home, is much different than making the decision that she wants to stay home or wants to go out and work. So when you have a child-care center and you want to work, then possibly you could find something but there's a great need now for women who must work. What will they do with their children? I've been fortunate enough to have a grandmother at home. This is ideal. Carol has small children. Joan also has small children, but our situation might be a little bit different because we have all chosen. I don't think --
Carol Kleiman That's what makes us middle-class, I think. When we decide to go to work, it's not totally on a financial basis. And as we were talking so blithely before, I was, you know, about fulfilling this and doing our thing, the women who must go to work to support their kids, what do they have to leave at home with their children, and how they must feel about the woman who doesn't want to go. You know, how she must feel. We were talking before, lots of people compare the problems, or the social revolution of women today, to the Black revolution which I think is being very generous to women, because the Black revol-- We were never really slaves, you know. But what about the Black woman who's always worked? Has never had facilities for her kids, you know, this is -- Who has a choice of going on ADC and being treated as a welfare mother is described on this show, not quite as people, or going out and leaving the kids with what, you know, and earning maybe even less. The the society is not for the working mother. The lag between the businesses that are seducing women out of the homes. When the Tribune asked me to do a column six days a week I said, "You know, I love to write and this is the most flattering thing that ever happened to me, but what about my children? You're always writing about the family in the home, you know, you're going to break it all up." They said they would work it out and they worked out a fantastic set-up for me so I can be home and still be the mother. But what about these people who must work? And no one's saying, "Okay, here's a gorgeous daycare center, good, loving care for your kids." There's no such thing.
Lenore Greising It's very interesting in terms of this "Woman Power" conference. We had many women call and say, "Love to come, but can't awfully hard to find babysitters." Well, after we provided what we're just talking about for one day, maybe if we had to provide for a year it might be a little greater challenge, a daycare center, infants all the way up to age five or six, why, my gosh, the phone calls were coming in all the day, I get them home all weekend, etc. and it's because they feel they would like to come but they've got to do something with these little guys and they want to be sure that they're being taken care of in a loving and affectionate intelligent way, they just don't want to drop them off someplace, and this has made all the difference in terms of our conference, not only their interest in the idea, which is exciting, but the whole business of having their children taken care of. So you have really kind of a double dimension here, don't you, they have the career on the other hand, but you have this tremendous woman sensitivity to her children and she doesn't want to feel she is neglecting them because she realizes the importance of being with them and communicating and every woman has this sense of love, it's said that the purest, fullest, richest sense of love is the mother love. And so you can't just say --
Studs Terkel You know, in talking now, the point you raised. Several things. The question of choice, we'll come to, return -- But since Joan brought up the subject of the Woman Power conference, this is rather interesting that the very phrase was used, the idea of a conference, and suddenly you were deluged with calls. That indicates something, doesn't it?
Joan Smutny Yes, you're right, and I might add, because Carol's very modest she had an article on the conference, the pros of teaching, and it made it so [powerful? palatable?] and appealing, that from that time on, why, it really started to come forth.
Studs Terkel Even though, now this is a point, even though and this is one of the aspects that is fascinating about, even economically, now we come into it, this is not the problem of the ADC mother, who has no choice, see, this is [unintelligible]. Choice now, see, even though economically I assume that you're not deprived economically, but there is another kind of deprivation these women seem to feel, who have called you.
Lenore Greising Yes, very much so. They'll call and they say, "This is just what I'm looking for. I may not go back to school in September. I may not become a teacher aide in the next month, but I've got to think over a long-range perspective, the next 10, 20 years. I want to think about myself growing and maturing," and I hear all day long and half the night. And it's great because it indicates things, it's symptomatic of a lot of thinking intuitively going on and we're endeavoring to concrete it. We're endeavoring to say, "Okay, we understand your needs and let's see if we can fulfill them and work with them."
Studs Terkel I'll ask you as a good, as a good cliffhanger, we'll take a slight break for the moment and then we'll hear about the nature of the Woman Power conference, how this came to be, and who is 'we,' you know, and what it's about and the specifics about it, too. In a moment after we hear from our friend. We're returning to our three guests, Carol Kleiman, Lenore Greising and Joan Smutny on the subject of women, in this case the Women Power conference held this Wednesday, March 12th at the National College of Education. But there was something happened here just during this break as we were talking here, about teachers, and you said to be a teacher, and Carol, there was something you said.
Carol Kleiman I just wondered if encouraging women to be teachers is encouragement enough, that the role of women as teachers which is kind of a mother substitute is furthering the myth of women's, a kind of narrowed possibilities. This doesn't mean I don't want to see more men in teaching but why teaching? Why shouldn't these women be encouraged to do whatever?
Studs Terkel Oh, when was this? That's interesting. You see, you were aware of this. When -- That's what I was asking earlier, this is now dropping the other shoe. When when did each of you become aware, let's say, that things were not what they could be?
Studs Terkel Doctors.
Joan Smutny Well, I think in a way this is a comment on the teaching profession, and I don't think today we are so interested in this little perpetuation stereotype schoolmarm. I think teaching was just that, a little schoolmarm in a self-contained classroom, never did anything, made 1200 dollars a year, was not allowed to marry, not allowed to even look at a man, let alone even wink or sparkle at him. And I think that we're talking now about the world of education. But you know, this Woman Power conference through education, well, there are through many careers, many avenues open. But I think you made two comments. One is we're no longer talking about just teaching per se, we're talking about the whole world of education which offers many dimensions for women going to many types of careers in the world of education and all the whole business that there is more available to her, say, than education. There are so many other careers available. So I don't think that we're chaining her down because we're talking education. I think one reason why there are so many women interested in the world of education not just in the avenue the aspect of teaching is that, well, they love little kids, they're with them they're developing their sensitivities, they have an empathy for them.
Joan Smutny Well?
Carol Kleiman No, I mean the custodial care. The salaries are women's salaries in teaching and social work. It's still that way. I mean, I'm not saying I agree with this, because I don't, but that's where it is in the eyes of society, so it's okay for women.
Lenore Greising Sure.
Studs Terkel And one is teaching, as you put it, in the old schoolmarm manner at the same time Joan pointing out the changes in the nature of teaching, like involving a community outside the classroom.
Lenore Greising I think our young people are changing, though, I think our young boys are becoming interested in teaching, even teaching elementary school. It is no longer that they -- They see how young lives are molded at this age. And you asked, "Why teaching?" Well, for me with my big family, it's exciting, because I'm going to be home in the summer with my children. I can spend two months without having worry about getting another job again when they go back to school. I will have nice vacations. I will be home when they're home and I will also stay abreast of the times with them.
Studs Terkel And
Studs Terkel you switched to Montessori. No, I'll never do that. Well, talk now about this peculiar event. How did this come about? It's at the Carlson Auditorium, Sutherland Hall, it's this coming Wednesday from nine in the morning to three-fifteen, a one-day adult conference and it's called "Woman Power." Specifics of this, how this came to be.
Joan Smutny Well, I think as a college, a national college, has always had so many women, for example, we have 1200 in the graduate school, 600 of these are married women, and the undergraduate level, 30 are married women. I think just the location and the communities have lots of women, they're sensitive to them and they're doing things that involve them. And in terms of my own personal experience give a couple of autobiographical comments here, I go around talking to a lot of women's clubs and a lot of PTA groups, etc., and I've never found such hunger among women in terms of doing something, wanting to reach out. I got so fired up with all this the last couple of years that I presented this idea at that college and they were, oh, very supportive, totally enthusiastic about it, so we're starting with this first step. It's just the first step, "Woman Power," and I might say this in terms of the climate of the country education-wise and it's very right and ripe for this. We have Educational Personnel Development Act that is talking about how you get women into the whole world of education, how we're missing a lot of creative talented able bright people that should be teaching our very bright kids, so to speak. So this is this is all part of it. I think this whole movement in a way is mushrooming in this country getting to identify and attract, train women in the world of education. I think this one day's a strong start in the right direction and we can tell from the hundreds of phone calls that we get that we are on the right track, that we are going to do something in terms of a contribution of service. Lenore, how do you feel about this, you live in, out in a suburb and talk to lots of gals.
Lenore Greising Well, just last night I met one of my friends who commented that she was so anxious to come because she's been wanting to do something for so long and she didn't want to get committed because the minute you join a woman's club you have to serve on a committee to serve tea and she's tired of serving tea and spending an hour deciding if it's going to be pink or yellow punch and she wants to do something a little more vital. She doesn't quite know how committed she wants to be. So she's coming tomorrow -- Wednesday, rather, to hear what's going on and then make her own decision about where she'll commit her time, but she wants to do something.
Joan Smutny Studs, can I put in a plug in case there are any gals listening who would like to call? They could call G-R-5, [Greaney?] 5-0-2-2-1 if they would like to make a reservation. You don't mind the [chance to?] plug here.
Lenore Greising gal with the experience to talk about it. Well, we have babysitting facilities for all children. We don't mind if they're 6 weeks old. Just bring lots of diapers and a few bottles of formula and we have 10 lovely delightful college girls who will stay with them from eight in the morning 'til three-thirty in the afternoon and two mothers, so there will be 12 people to care for them.
Lenore Greising Right.
Studs Terkel But this is, you see, this is very thing that's happening right this moment. I'm now outside, and it's easy for me to talk, you know, as being a guy wrapped in cellophane outside talking, you know, objectively, which is unfair but the fact our very language itself, the language itself, just as Blacks are now, no longer will a Black man be called a boy. But what does a man get out of -- See? The guys -- Oh, now and then I could see businessmen saying, "Well, we boys'll get together, us guys." But generally it's men, and not boys and so coming back, in general when a girl's -- "Hey, you know, and not only is she bright, you know. Not only is she, you know, she bright but she's pretty." You see? Often you hear this, you don't say, "But not only is he intelligent, but he's handsome." This is never done. Rather interesting how deep in our language this is.
Studs Terkel But I wonder if perhaps before we add more specifics about this conference, repeat again, is this Wednesday at the National College of Education is in Evanston, 2840 Sheridan, Evanston. But there will be facilities for small children.
Lenore Greising And this is a school with the college. There's also a demonstration school right in the same building on the same piece of property. And we have a lovely room. And so the little guys that are all walking around, and three and four years old, there will be things for them to do, toys and things.
Joan Smutny Right. Okay. The role of the teacher aide. This is getting stronger all the time. For example, a woman feels she can't go back from nine to three, so she's thinking in terms of part-time work. We have teacher aides. This is an ever-stronger movement in this country. Volunteer movement. I think this is getting stronger all the time. All the dimensions of teaching, the school and the community relationship. For example, a woman wants to know, can she talk to her school board. What does it mean to go in to talk to the principal and saying something about modification in curriculum, a little bit more creative approach. Can women feel free to do this, and how, whether it be having educators, superintendents, principals, people from the college talking about all this. I think this will encourage her, because I think sometimes there's a timidity, don't you feel this, Carol?
Carol Kleiman I've worked with women who have tried to approach a school board, women who were ADC mothers, isn't that a terrible way to describe a person? The Jane Addams housing project and the board, they begged to be volunteers at the school because the school was so understaffed, the school said, "Well, but you must come down here." But they didn't get them [child care? car fare?]. "You must take this TB test, you must take this literacy literacy test, you mustn't have an accent," I don't know what kind they meant, and they gave them a very hard time, so I hope it's not too idealistic. [Or?] I hope they don't live in the city.
Studs Terkel The point that Carol's made a couple of times is, the fact is you do, because of economics, have a choice to some extent here. That is, money for a babysitter, whereas the woman who is, we'll drop that phrase "culturally deprived" which is a phony phrase to begin with.
Studs Terkel You are culturally deprived, I see, but economically deprived there is no choice. And so that aspect of choice, but you're saying even those who have choice right now find there's a hunger for something else.
Lenore Greising A lot of it, Studs, will probably come from the women themselves. We're kind of waiting for them to come with some of their questions and some of their ideas and some of their concerns. You know, women are concerned too, more than their own children. They're considered about the world these children will go into when they leave us.
Joan Smutny We have a seminar on children in the inner city. I think this is all very important. I don't think it's a matter of just restricting to the suburban child and suburban homemaker. This would be foolish.
Studs Terkel And I suppose since it is the year 1969 and things happen in the world, you know, the subject of woman is not in a vacuum, you see, someone may bring up the subject of war, may bring up the subject of race, might bring up the subject of ghetto.
Lenore Greising What do you say to your children? Someone might say, "I'm only coming because I wanted to hear some other mother's point. Tell me what they're doing about their problems in their school, or what are you doing about your problems at home? And we don't know, we're very anxious."
Lenore Greising Right.
Studs Terkel [More important?]. See, what's happening. Obviously something has popped, you know, in terms of the past several years. Maybe it was a result of a Black revolution. Maybe that's one aspect. May be a result of many things, of technology, labor-saving devices and, but it's been there a long -- As you heard that woman's song in the beginning, it's been here for a long time. So perhaps even more fodder for our discussion that is going on, to hear the voice of someone else, Jessie Binford, who died at the age of 90 a couple of years ago talking about her friend Jane Addams, early part of the century, this very theme, this connecting link with the song you heard, and with Dame Sybil Thorndike. And if we could, if we could hear at this moment, if we could hear the voice of Jesse Binford speaking of a dilemma at the time that is faced a different way today.
Jessie Binford Well, I've forgotten what year we got the, women got the vote here, I think it's in 1920. But you see, then she'd been at Hull House 30 years, and I don't think she was one of the greatest leaders in it, but all the years. And it wasn't that she she wasn't just fighting for the right of women to vote. It was much more than that. But all through her life there she saw what a great contribution women could make in government: city government, state government, national and internationally, because of their great interest. Perhaps more than men had in many things that government affects very very much, especially in health and education, the welfare of children and so that she did become one of the great leaders. But it was more than just for the right to vote, it is because of what she thought women could do.
Studs Terkel A yellow ribbon. This was a program that was for Susan B. Anthony's birthday. That is not really celebrated. You see, it happens to fall the same month as Abraham Lincoln's birthday and George Washington's birthday.
Studs Terkel Nonetheless, her birthday is not celebrated and she certainly might be considered almost an attempt, one who attempted to emancipate as the Great Emancipator, you see, so we come back to a theme which what Ms. Binford was talking about, was the fact not only is the creativity, but the role outside in all aspects of life that Carol was talking about earlier, too. Teacher, of course, but something else, too, isn't it?
Studs Terkel Well, isn't there also something else here that woman does, as a man talking, that there is an added sensitivity here. That is, that sensitivity that perhaps the man may not have in some spheres, you know, that is, wouldn't you say?
Carol Kleiman Well, outside of Simone de Beauvoir, who doesn't admit to anything like that, most people do say that the ovaries are rather determining maybe a woman would be less inclined to move somewhere if she's thinking she's going have a baby or she's going to raise a family. She may limit her own possibilities but it would be nice if that were the only thing limiting her possibilities, herself.
Studs Terkel I'm talking about the added element a woman may have that a man does not have, the very fact that there was labor, you see, physical labor and pain, you see, to give life that man does not experience. The very fact that she has, in a sense, to some extent, whatever, you're a mother of eight, suffered, [exhilarate?] the same time. Hasn't this made her a different being? I'm not saying, women don't claim to be what men are. You know, that's not the point.
Joan Smutny Yes. Such as, if just to give you a couple names, Dr. Oscar Chute, former superintendent, Evanston elementary schools, Dr. [Grody?], superintendent of schools in Wilmette, Dr. [Bristol?], Janet [Froin?], who is well-known in this whole Chicago area in terms of school volunteer work that she does, and lots of people.
Lenore Greising [Joan? Dawn?] will open the day with a talk, and then we will give these gals that come -- Gals -- These women that come a choice of which of these seminars they'll be interested in, because like we said before, some of them are -- Will come with degrees, they have already gone through college. Some will come without a degree, without any education. Some will come because they don't really know why they're coming, maybe they've got a free day of babysitting and maybe this is a good outing for them, but they'll all be there together and their ideas will come and there'll be people that will say what Carol has said, "Well I want to do something, but I don't want to teach. You know, I don't want to be pegged any further." So what would you like to do? And there will be all kinds of things.
Studs Terkel If we could return but come back further to beginnings to three specific women here, to Carol Kleiman, to Joan Smutny and to Lenore Greising. We come right back to the beginning. How come, how this came about? What -- When did you first, you know, it may be difficult, there wasn't a one moment, I suppose, you know, in your case, Lenore, you know, life was pretty good I would guess generally speaking, you know, placid, well, unless speaking tempestuous domestic disputes that occur at every household. But generally speaking --
Lenore Greising I think, I'm not sure; that's a very difficult thing to pin down. But when I would see people doing things and there I would be in my kitchen doing nothing. And then I kind of went through this stage where I thought, oh, maybe I'll join this group. Maybe that's what I'm looking for. And I joined lots of groups and I got very involved with many things, and oh, ladies' groups and church groups and voters' groups and --
Lenore Greising Beautiful ladies' groups, and that wasn't it. I just was so tired. And I guess it just dawned on me when I would read things and just want to know more about what I was reading. I'd hear kids talking and I knew they'd be telling me something and I didn't know what they were saying and I didn't like that. I wanted to know what they were, what are they talking about when they're protesting? I mean, there's too many of them to say there's nothing to protest. So something is wrong.
Carol Kleiman Well, I had a very exciting job on the Philadelphia "Bulletin," where I was Nellie Bly, I was sent all over to do all kinds of hammy things which I adored, you know, actors' studio I was sent to, and I was sent up in, not really, in a space suit, but when the astronauts came it was a simulated thing and they made a special uniform and upper gravity pull and all this. My husband still hides the pictures from the children, he doesn't think --
Carol Kleiman Me and James Baldwin. But everyone knows his name. And I had to do something, and I was lucky enough to be able to do it. My husband always said, we were discussing before how lucky we are. And yet it's all in the framework of our husband's permission, too, spoken or unspoken. When I told my husband about this job, oh, he was so proud. He still is, you know. He says, fine, he said, "And I want you to hire any amount of help you need," he said, "But do not expect me to fill in for you as a babysitter." And I'm shocked that it was so honest, thank goodness, that I knew the score. And he is very happy. But he really -- It's not that he wants things to be the same, but it just is convenient.
Studs Terkel This is precisely the point, isn't it? This is precisely the point. It's not a question of being married to a brutal sadistic guy, not being married to a guy who comes home drunk spends all the money and then beats you up and beats the kids, this isn't the subject. We come to something much, much more subtle now. We come to the fact of a guy who is a very enlightened man, we almost come to the "Doll's House" again, don't we, in a way?
Studs Terkel As you're talking, a funny thought occurred to me, you know, it just as we have something called a Black liberation, to me this means white liberation, because the overdog is as much a victim as the underdog. And so to [unintelligible] 'husband power' humorously, the fact is if a woman is really free the guy himself will find himself much more free than he ever had been before, because of a myth he labors under, too.
Joan Smutny And I think that this is again what I mentioned earlier in terms of the woman superimposes this stuff on herself and I think sometimes we find a combination of martyrdom and feeling why I can do something and saying I'm not supposed to do something, and again this liberation from these old mores that have changed this, this concept of a women going out for so long.
Carol Kleiman But see, a woman can legitimately hide behind that picture-frame window and she can do the diapers all day long, she doesn't have to face that world because her husband likes it that way and she likes it, but he must face it, you know.
Studs Terkel In an almost caricature form, I could say this, I haven't played this tape, but Eric Goldman who was the consultant for the White House during President Johnson's administration for a time, tried to arrange the ill-fated conference of intellectuals, remember it turned out to be a fiasco, is describing Lady Bird Johnson, what's rather interesting and he says her fidelity to her husband's life and during the very beginning, it doesn't matter what the man does. And this is L.B. Johnson, no matter what, she will try to back him to the hilt no matter what. To the very end. No matter what, it could even be destruction of the world. You see, so we come to something, to the, what might be a caricature of the faithful wife who is behind her husband as so often we're told the good wife for up and coming young man on the make is the one who knows his boss, boss's wife, [unintelligible], she becomes the adjunct to him. That is the economic adjunct, so the opposite, obviously is what you're presenting here this morning. Exactly opposite, isn't it,
Joan Smutny what 'woman power' is about, in this sense? And I think that part about the liberating of the male at the same time from the delusion, and the woman on a pedestal talking about childbirth, some men think, "Oh, look what my wife went through. Isn't that, isn't she fantastic?" You know, the sacred; something sacred, you know, motherhood, you know.
Joan Smutny A
Studs Terkel woman teacher. I wonder what that means. It's an anthology, it's called "Down from the Pedestal [sic]," and it's sort of the writings through the centuries of women's battle for freedom. Down -- Interesting title, though, is "Down from the Pedestal [sic]," and thus too in the case of the white Southern belle in past years it's always been the caricature of the horror of the act that she must put on, she must be well-liked even by the Black people who work for her as well as by the guy who is her husband as well as by the old plantation owner --
Studs Terkel by -- And as a result there have been nervous breakdowns. Classic case, of course, F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, Southern belle of Montgomery, Alabama and her role that she was playing, untrue to her own self, finally caused her to be committed, you see. So we come back to a woman again, and this is not, and this may sound as though we're laying it on a bit heavy here. We're talking now about a woman who basically we're describing a woman of middle class, who has choice economically. We're talking now about something else, about creative choice aren't we?
Carol Kleiman We were talking earlier about how the language shapes the realities, and not only the things that you're told to do determine what you do, but the words that you use, and we were talking about 'girl' as opposed to 'woman.' I was thinking about a recent assignment I had where I went to the household employment project which is a really fantastic idea to upgrade household employment which most working women need, and it trains workers, and the workers are well-trained and well-paid, and also trains employers in their attitudes but also the people who run the program and the people in it are conscious that they, too, have certain ideas about themselves that maybe they shouldn't have. And I walked in the other day and I saw a little coin box which was stacked with money and I asked what it was for. And they said every time one of us refers to another one of us as a 'girl,' we put a penny in the box, and they had a lot of money.
Joan Smutny And sensitivity. And sensitivity I find in terms of women, through ideas, women want to work in the realm of ideas. Physical orientation in terms of doing housework is not the quintessence of a woman's expression of creativity and talent. She wants to work with ideas, and I think that she can feel a certain amount of creativity in the home but it's just not enough and she often envies her husband because he's working in the realm of ideas all day long. And she'd like to get involved in this, too.
Studs Terkel I suppose before we, you know, say goodbye, you know, and talk once more, mention once more the "Woman Power" conference, the fact that there's been a technological revolution [there have been? that happened?] labor-saving devices to a great extent played a role, here, too.
Studs Terkel Open, it's this Wednesday, March 12th at the Carlson Auditorium, Sutherland Hall, it's National College of Education, it's in Evanston, 2840 Sheridan in Evanston and it's a one-day conference for women. Anybody can participate and ask questions and make comments and a number of things will be talked about. And also there will be care for little children.
Joan Smutny Women.
Studs Terkel Women.
Carol Kleiman Women.
Studs Terkel There I am, patronizing right there, ladies. Women. 'Cause I would say, well, I'd say gentlemen, so it's okay. I'm trying to -- Not cop out here, I would have said gentlemen, maybe, so ladies --
Studs Terkel Gentlewomen. So far we go and no further, and the conference is on Wednesday. Carol Kleiman, Lenore Greising and Joan Smutny, and thank you very much. Tomorrow this is a three-part program for the next two days will be two young students, University of Chicago, and a young teacher. All three women.