Monday, February 06, 2006

Some Things Don't Change

Because I support the U.C. Berkeley libraries, I get their newsletter, called Bene Legere. The fall 2005 issue (no. 68) was about "Women of California" and included the following article, which I'm retyping verbatim since there doesn't seem to be a web site where I can link it. Having attended Berkeley myself, some 50 years after this incident, I'm appalled to discover how much had not changed in the interval:
In 1916 UC Berkeley Biology student Josephine Miller inadvertently swallowed typhoid bacilli in one of the labs on campus. The incident was widely publicized and appeared in an article in the "Daily Californian" which suggested that women should be recognized for adopting children and not for entering the field of scientific research. Student Elsie McCormick responded to this attack on women with the following article.

We have compiled rules after a careful study of the statements in recent college papers. Coeds who follow them are guaranteed bids to all the dances of the semester.

Rule 1. Do not swallow typhoid germs. It is unladylike.

Rule 2. Do not be foolish enough to plan on raising a family of your own. Adopt foundlings. You'll be sure to get your picture in the paper.

Rule 3. Do not study hygiene. It is not polite to be interested in the health of your family or the community.

Rule 4. Be a man's comrade but do not compete with him. He knows that he will never hold his position if you do.

Rule 5. Do not request men to swear in your presence. Only suffragettes do that.

Rule 6. Always glare at a man in the streetcar until he gives you his seat. If you show any willingness to stand, it proves that you are a feminist and hence ineligible for an M.R.S. degree.

Rule 7. Do not be the only woman in the College of Mechanics. To know anything about the anatomy of an automobile is immodest.

Rule 8. Pay your ASUC dues promptly, but do not be so bold as to ask for a place on the Executive Committee...

Rule 9. If a man speaks to you, always preface your answer by "Tee-hee." If you make any other remarks, you will be considered unmaidenly.

Rule 10. Never pass sentiments in Senior Singing until a week after the men have discussed the subject and made up their minds for you. Otherwise you might disagree with them and spoil the class harmony.

Rule 11. Do not study anything useful. Coeds should specialize in English and a diluted form of art history.

Rule 12. Always look and act as silly as possible. If you can't think of anything else to do, giggle.

Coeds who live up to these rules will reach the man's ideal of a perfect college woman...
All three-dot elisions are Miss McCormick's. I particularly love Rule 4. And as a singer, I'd like to know the incident behind Rule 10; but I never will. I do hope Miss Miller didn't come down with typhoid as a result of her error.

Another item in the newsletter was a photo of a page from the scrapbook of Clotilde Grunsky, class of '14, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering - and the University Medal, as the most distinguished member of the graduating class. I am absolutely awed by any woman who would even try for a civil engineering degree in 1914! I wonder if she ever got any dates...

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