The struggle for gender equality has taken place in TSL’s pages throughout its history. It’s also been reflected in the composition of its staff. Today, approximately 60 percent of TSL’s senior staff members are female, but in the 1940s, women were severely underrepresented in senior positions. However, it seems that for one issue every year, the predominantly male editors stepped aside and let their female colleagues run the show. In honor of International Women’s Day this week, here is the editorial from the May 2, 1942 edition of that issue, in which Barbara Bentley used her platform as temporary Editor-in-Chief to reflect on the ways in which women’s lives had changed at Pomona in the five months since the United States entered the Second World War.
Women Are People Too
This is the Women’s Day edition of Student Life. On every page women screech about the things they’ve done, the honors they’ve won, the plans they’ve made in the past year. I think it’s good, they’ve done a lot and some of it has been useful, but there is something a lot more important that has happened on the south campus this year, and it doesn’t come under any of the neat categories of sports, or music or drama or scholarship.
The women of Pomona College have become people.
People with minds and opinions and a sense of responsibility to themselves and to others. People who have discovered that in their hands is the protection of the common heritage of our national tradition, our culture, everything that we are fighting to preserve. People who have been toppled from their ivory tower of invulnerability and have been brought at last to the realization of suffering and disappointment. People who have had to rearrange their whole scale of values and place them on firmer ground. And people who have, I believe, faced the facts and the implications of the situation bravely and more important, intelligently.
These people called women are beginning to read, to know more about the world beyond them and to think about the things they read and hear. They are slower to seize and broadcast the idle rumor, slower to slander, slower to complain.
Not so very long ago many of these people thought of the future in terms of only one thing—marriage, either to a specific person or to a nebulous idea of perfection as yet unencountered. If not marriage then a career spelt in glamorous capitals and involving little hard work. But the day of the magazine coed is gone.
There is still and will always be romance and the excitement of falling in love, and the people will marry, but there will be few ivory satin wedding gowns and champagne receptions. In their place will be small, quiet weddings in churches, for religion is more important to the people now, and the grooms will be in uniform and the older guest, remembering, will be sad, but the young are unafraid. And marriage is no longer an end in itself, and wives are no longer parasites.
Some of these people will be left alone, but the farewells will be without tears, and when they are over the people called women will find work to be done for they are people of independence. For some there will be children and the added responsibility of giving them some measure of their rightful inheritance of the best of the world. And for all the young wives will be the satisfaction of having done what must be done and of having smiled when smiles were needed.
There will be no more career girls. There will be people with jobs. Man-sized jobs, useful jobs, important jobs, and jobs well done. And the people called women will work hard and glory in it for there is a purpose, a reason behind the effort.
There has been no blare of trumpets, no far off roll of drums, but the people called women of Pomona know all these things and they will be ready when their time comes.
Samuel Breslow PO ’18 was a sociology major from New Hampshire. He previously served as TSL’s senior news adviser, news editor, development associate and opinions columnist.