Welcome to Women’s History Month, Justice Scalia

March is Women’s History Month, and this year’s celebration of the historic and contemporary contributions of women in this country … Continued

March is Women’s History Month, and this year’s celebration of the historic and contemporary contributions of women in this country got off to quite a kick-start with Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor making their presence felt during arguments on a challenge to the Voting Rights Act, currently in front of the Supreme Court.

Last Wednesday, when the Supreme Court heard from counsel, Justice Scalia in particular made no secret of his contempt for this law and presumed to know that Congress didn’t really mean it when they reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in 2006 by votes of 98 to 0 in the Senate and 390 to 33 in the House. Instead, Scalia speculated that these elected officials were secretly afraid to vote against this “perpetuation of racial entitlement.

Justice Elena Kagan wasn’t about to let that pass. She challenged Scalia, interrupting his questioning of counsel and addressing him directly, arguing that such an overwhelming majority of senators was a “good argument” for the need for the law.

“It was clear to 98 senators, including every senator from a covered state, who decided that there was a continuing need for this piece of legislation.”

Justice Sonya Sotomayor took up the issue with counsel, and challenged whether Shelby County, Ala., was the right part of the country to be challenging a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

“Some parts of the South have changed. Your county pretty much hasn’t,” said Sotomayor. “You may be the wrong party bringing this.” Kagan added, “Under any formula that Congress could devise, it would still capture Alabama.”

Indeed. Equality under the law must be specifically protected and vigilance is required.

The U.S. Constitution does not mention God, but the Declaration of Independence does, and grounds the struggle for political equality in the fact that there is a Creator who endows us with “certain unalienable Rights.” Well, at least at that time (1776), it was thought the Creator endowed only some of us with unalienable Rights. Functionally, women, slaves and men of property were not included.

Through war and protest, some of these rights have been obtained, but they are not secure. The fight for gender and racial equality continues. This struggle is our history, and still our contemporary challenge. In my Christian faith, that means women and men and people of all races are equal because they were created equal by God.

It is a fundamental challenge of our democracy to continue to secure equality for all, as we are all created equal. The continuing struggle to secure equal rights is very visible on today’s Supreme Court.

For example, one cannot be an exceptional professional woman, as both Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor clearly are, without having experienced gender discrimination in one’s life. Kagan, as a member of a religious minority, would also be aware from her own life of the continuing need for laws that protect the rights of minorities. The same would be true of Sonia Sotomayor, who as a Hispanic woman lawyer has shown herself sensitive to the needs of minorities before the law.

But life experience as a minority alone does not necessarily make anyone sensitive to the special struggles of groups of Americans. The career of Justice Clarence Thomas is testimony enough to disprove that.

No, there is a legal philosophy at work here that I would argue is almost biblical in its care for the role of law in the creation of justice and fairness. “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.” (Leviticus 19:15)

These two women were, I believe, speaking in the tradition of the great jurist of equality under the law, Justice Thurgood Marshall. Indeed, Elena Kagan clerked for Supreme Court Justice Marshall, and when Justice Scalia spoke the appalling words, “perpetuation of racial entitlement,” one can almost draw a direct line to Justice Marshall who too would have made short work of such a racial canard.

Sonia Sotomayor as well has been compared to Justice Marshall in her choice to place her legal voice at the service of the dispossessed in a case she championed before becoming a Supreme Court Justice. The New York Times opined that, “With this [case], Justice Sotomayor set herself up to be the court’s hard-charging liberal — à la Justice Thurgood Marshall, who liked to take his shots, diplomatic maneuvering be damned.”

Justice Sotomayor recently took the unusual step of condemning racially charged language used by a federal prosecutor in Texas in a case the Supreme Court had decided not to pursue. Sotomayor wrote that the prosecutor had “tapped a deep and sorry vein of racial prejudice that has run through the history of criminal justice in our nation.”

While their legal philosophy is certainly influenced by the great Justice Thurgood Marshall, as well as, of course, others, these two women bring something else to the court. They bring their specific experience as women to this legal work. Discrimination against women, as women, has been, and continues to be, a great legal and moral challenge to equality in the United States.

I recently watched “Makers: Women Who Make America,” a three-hour PBS documentary showcasing the history and contemporary lives of women in America, and their struggles for equality. It was both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Women have struggled so long for equality in their persons and in public and political life. There have been many great achievements, and there has been enormous backlash and loss of hard-won gains.

This excellent film is certainly an important way to mark Women’s History Month.

In the documentary, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm is profiled for her ground-breaking election to Congress as the first African American woman, and the first to run for president. Congresswoman Chisholm shocked many when she famously said, “In the field of politics, I have met much more discrimination as a woman than being black.”

But this is not an either/or issue, where one oppression has to be seen as worse than another to be validly oppression, as Congresswoman Chisholm well knew. It is the concept of oppression itself that must be challenged, and Justices Kagan and Sotomayor are doing a great job of that on the Supreme Court.

I would have loved, however, to hear what Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm would have had to say to Justice Scalia last week.

But while sadly we cannot have that, we can look forward to the fact that now, and for the foreseeable future, every month will be Women’s History Month at the Supreme Court. C

  • Jack Jozevz

    The reason why we did not have a World War III already (overdue) is because of some of the few Women Leaders today or of recent in the right parts of international Governments, especially the U.N. And of course we need More Women Leadership and Less Men. And the best part is; i perceive a time in a better modern-world (a better democracy) when Men will stay home, raise kids, cook, clean etc. Instead of Women.

  • Lyonside

    I think the writer meant “Functionally, women, slaves and men WITHOUT property were not included.”

    White men with property were initially the only ones who COULD vote. In places where people of native descent were allowed to vote, later laws usually took that away too, based on skin color.

  • SimonTemplar

    I applaud you in your rather bold statement to make on this site Ms. Thistlethwaite, given the number of readers here who don’t believe we were created. Rather they believe we evolved, in which case there is no basis of an argument for equality.

    With regard to Justice Scalia, I’m skeptical of the framing of his position by the press. Justices are supposed to debate. It is not the role of the press to silence debate among court justices. And since the press has proven it’s ability to take comments out of context and reframe them to suit their own agendas, I will with hold judgement on that matter.

  • Secular1

    ” Rather they believe we evolved, in which case there is no basis of an argument for equality.” simple Simon, how does your conclusion that evolution of creatures preclude equality. You state that as if it is axiomatic, just like every thing you and your ilk claim. If anything your filthy tomes are the ones that are replete with the notion that not all are created equal, your protestations to the contrary, driven by the 21st century zeitgeist. In fact teh concept of equality is a meme that is in keeping with evolutionary processes both in the natural world as well as our own (homo-sapien) social world. Of course the evolution of equality id riven by the scientific knowledge that we have accumulated over the centuries, in all domains.

    “Justices are supposed to debate. It is not the role of the press to silence debate among court justices” Yes indeed they are supposed to debate on a more scholarly manner, but not in teh sophomoric way in which this man does things. It betrays his deep biases, bigotry and to a great extent his frivolous mockery of the judicial process itself. Now coming to press silencing the debate is the usual brat crap crazy right wing story that you guys are so bent on foisting on us. First of all press does not stifle anything, however lopsided their framing may be, as it has no enforcement powers as the state has. Besides these justices of SCOTUS are appointed for life and supposedly have strong personalities, they ought not to be cowed down by any power. If the framing by the press were to force them to moderate their bomb throwing then they do not deserve to be in SCOTUS, at all. Scalia isn’t one who is going to be forced say uncle.

  • Secular1

    I am outraged that the so called main stream media and also the avowedly left leaning media is so subdued in their reaction to this rabble rouser – an excuse for an intellectual on the right. If it were one of the progressive judges Kagan, Sotomeyer, Ginsburg, and Breyer or for that matter Kennedy had made any such inflammatory statements the brat-crap-crazy-rightwing media, starting with National Review, Fox News, etc, etc would screaming for their hides. The word “Impeachment” would have been used in every other sentence, when belching their rants, perhaps deservedly so. By contrast the so-called main stream (actually it is more of a right leaning) media and the have only registered most modest protest over this man Scalia. Even on the “last Word” on MSNBC the guest host (an oxymoron) Ezra Klien almost ignored it and O’Donell on returning hardly mentioned it last night.

    Coming to Scalia himself, he has removed the last vestiges of doubt in me about his racist bigotry, and hypocrisy. This man who championed the utter nonsense of original intent made a mockery of that construct when he asserted that the politicians could not bring themselves to vote against a law that was so wonderfully named. I suppose according to him no wonderfully named bills have ever been rejected by congress. To top it off he cites the overwhelming majorities as the proof for his assertion. Perhaps, we should contend that the fact that he himself was confirmed by an identical majority 98 – 0, his confirmation is also in question. By calling Voting rights act a racial entitlement, I suppose he wants to take us back to the days of Jim Crow or may be even to the pre-Lincoln America, when everyone knew their place.

    Continued Below:

  • Secular1

    ” I think he was adverting to the fact that Section 5 guarantees not just nondiscrimination but, in key respects, special treatment on the basis of race. The most obvious is the creation and maintenance of racially identifiable districts — indeed, the principal use of Section 5 these days is to ensure this sort of racial gerrymandering and segregation, as Joshua Thompson and I discussed in a Bench Memos post earlier this week: This defense put forth below by one rclegg1 does not stand on closer examination, because teh main beneficiaries of such gerrymandering are the brat-crap-crazy-repubs, who see no purpose served by compromising, for the democracy to work.

    Coming back to the left leaning media would have excruciated a Limbaugh or a Beck, or a Savage for anything close to teh incendiaries that frothed out of scalia’s mouth. Instead because this fellow is considered to be an intellectual thinker of sorts by the right, left seems to have been cowed down to its knees, offering the mildest of protestations. The same goes for even, the one time rabble rouser Al Sharpton. He could muster the mildest of protests – i guess thats what happens when you are given a modicum of stature. Indeed stature makes the left cling to it and forget what brought it there. I am astonished that why scalia is even considered an intellectual. He cannot even grasp the concept of Reductio-ad-absurdum – a concept a high school student with introduction to Euclid masters. In his mind Reductio-ad-absurdum is nothing but hurling absurdities. If I were him, after being outwitted by a mere Princeton Sophomore, I would have stepped down from the bench in my own shame and ignominy, but not this fellow. I say this fellow must be IMPEACHED, tarred and feathered and run out of the country to some place, where he would feel at home like Pinochet’s Chile, or Samoza’s Nicaragua, but alas those places are no more. So I guess, we are stuck with this bloviator, until he breathes his last.

  • quiensabe

    You think Clarence Thomas has not felt the sting of discrimination? His eviseration by liberals doesn’t count?

  • BobinVa

    God knows, “Thistlewaite” is a perfect name for a self-righeous moonbat.

  • Secular1

    I am sure Mr. Thomas has felt the sting of discrimination. Yes, his criticism by the liberals does not count as one of the instances of discrimination he felt, notwithstanding his assertions of high tech lynching. He was thoroughly criticized for his dodging difficult questions on Roe V Wade, Brown V Board of Education, Dred scott, Plessey V Ferguson. Also a compelling harassment charges brought by an Associate Professor of a state university against him. He is also criticized for his convenient memory loss on all matters race related and his disingenuous penchant to look at United States, as great as it is, as some kind of Shangari la.

  • quiensabe

    No. He was critized because he was a black conservative. We’re just not going to have that, are we?


    Yes in the USA by way of our supreme law, the Constitution.

  • Secular1

    Sorry Q, but being a conservative opens one up for lot of deserved criticism. An adjective in in front of it has little consequence. A student of law begs off answering any questions on landmark cases in the history of the nation is not being truthful. He not only claimed that, during his entire tenure as a law student, he never discussed these cases with classmates and that he did not have any opinion either. That I can only euphemistically characterize less than candid. Then a female Professor of Law, from such Conservative citadels as Oral Roberts U and OU, makes sexual harassment charges are people supposed to ignore them? Just imagine that they indeed had ignored the charges, and Thomas had turned out to be another Souter, the other of HWs appointees, what would you all the bat-crap-crazy-right-wing-nutjobs be saying now. SO stop this nonsense about Thomas. He desreves all teh critiques meted out to him. Not only that he also has had less than stellar performance on the bench, hardly asking any questions. It seems to me that he adheres to that view that “Why open ones mouth and remove all doubt about him being a total dufus” So Q don’t even go there. You Cons are just a bunch sissy wimps and whinies.

  • quiensabe

    Gee, secular, thank you for your most intelligent critique. Like I said, we’re just not going to have a black conservative, are we, secular?

  • Secular1

    Q stop being Goebbles here, by repeating the silly charge ad nausseum I have rebutted your baseless assertion quite adequately. If you cannot find holes in my rebuttals, just repeating your dis-proven assertions will not change the facts nor will it further the discussion. Stop being a parrot for your bat-crap-crazy-right-wing-nutjob clan.

  • WmarkW

    Actually, nature evolved us as male and female, with the former dominating essentially every mammalian species and human society, until Western Civilization made women equal 50-100 years ago.

  • Secular1

    I would say over the last 200 years

  • quiensabe

    Your rebuttals essentially go unnoticed because of your hyper-intelligent critiques.

  • quiensabe

    Like I said, we’re just not going to have a black conservative, are we, secular?

  • Secular1

    Q we are not going to have any conservatives, black, white, brown, yellow, green and any other color you wish.

  • quiensabe

    You may be right. But just think. You’ll be led by those who are just as intelligent as you are!

  • Secular1

    Sin, as usual you are no exception of your ilk. Is this your feeble attempt at implying evolution being anti-antithetical to equality? First of all, in nature there is no particular notion of equality, as gravity, electro-magnetism. Equality is a human construct. And on that more below.

    First things first, your understanding of evolution and nature is horrendously incorrect. It reflects your deep seated social prejudices. The word “fittest” is actually used in a very, very contextual manner, and not at all meant in the most literal sense that your ilk tries to misinterpret. It used in the context of certain members of a species enjoy a differentially better survival and reproductive rates than the remaining members of the species provided they have better genetic proclivities in face of the changing environment. The very same proclivities that may serve well say for environment change “A” may well be deleterious when faced with change “B”. So the strongest, fastest, smartest are absolutely meaningless. For instance both gazelle and its pursuing panther are continuously solving partial differential equations trying to pursue the prey and to escape the predator. Likewise a bat is also continuously performing image processing using Doppler technology. On the other hand a minuscule of human are even aware of these mathematical techniques, let alone master them. So this smartest and strongest is a gross and malicious misrepresentation of the phrase “survival of the fittest”. Also for your information when a sub-group of a species is speciating away, it is often the minority that still does not imply that the sub-group will necessarily perish, either. Nor is there any evidence to support that that minority is relegated to servitude, either.

    Rest continued below:

  • Secular1

    Now moving on to the concept of equality is a social construct/meme which is most evolved amongst the human species. It comes more from our intellectual curiosity and sense of empathy, etc. This notion of equality, justice is the very essence of human zeitgeist. Even your ilk, today are imbibed with the zeitgeist to some extent, perhaps to a lesser extent than my ilk. While you folks rant and rave against LGBT, or blacks, or latinos, or Chinese, or Indians, take your pick. You would not countenance selling rotten meat to any of the above folks, just because Deuteronomy 14:21 recommends it. Although your ilk tries to make the lives of LGBT a living hell, yet you are unwilling to stone an LGBT person to death just because it is urged on by Leviticus. This notion of equality over the time has been an expansive notion, where one is able to identify with others who are not alike oneself on the surface. Even in case of, say LGBT haters in the west, they cannot bring themselves to mete out the punishments enjoined in the filthy scripture. Whereas in some of teh 47 odd Dar-ul-islams they do not have any reticence in following the injunctions in their filthy scripture. One could also make the case that in the west the secularization of thought has dragged the bigots to less obdurate behavior patterns, while the attitudes may not be much different perhaps.

    In short Sin, we are not endowed with anything by the mythical fairy tale sky daddy. We are all endowed with the billions of years of evolutionary legacy. We collectively endow ourselves by consensus all our rights. When you take a filthy tome that sets out regulations for slavery, rather than outright condemning, it is evidence of human zeitgeist frozen in time, about 35 centuries ago. This nonsense of it must be read in the context of the times, is just that nonsense. Moreover, that in of itself exposes the fact that ethics and morality indeed evolve. Hence those tomes are irrelevant to 21st century life.

  • Secular1

    That’s all the better for the humankind Q. Don’t you agree?

  • SimonTemplar


    You have gone about proving equality in a Godless universe the wrong way.

    It IS possible to assume equality among all things in the universe (living and non-living) according to a purely atheistic view of reality, but ONLY if you assume that nothing in the universe has any inherent value at all and is thus equally meaningless. Without God, this is completely true, for the universe (and everything in it) exists apart from any purpose and is for that reason meaningless. It could have just as easily NOT existed.

    We value gold and gems for several reasons. Take us out of the picture, however, and they are worthless. Go up to a wild bear and offer him a choice between a gold necklace and a fresh salmon. I think we both know which the bear would choose.

    If I am commissioned to craft an elegant, gem encrusted, gold necklace for a Hollywood starlet and also a fruit loop necklace for a dear 5 year old relative, in the eyes of everyone else the gold necklace is far more valuable than the fruit loop necklace. But to me, they may be of fairly equal value because of my love for a relative. The same may be true with God. As our creator, He has the right to make us unequal in terms of quality while we maintain our equality in terms of His value imparted to us. Like gems and precious metals, we as a race, have value ONLY because someone greater than us also happens to value us.

    You can talk all you want about us having value for this or that reason but such reasoning is meaningless. It’s like spitting into the solar winds. We can shout out to the universe all we want, declaring on all the reasons we consider ourselves to have value. I don’t think the universe, or the void beyond, care. You can try righting that into the constitution of your country but I doubt anyone would really want to live in THAT country.

    If we have any ACTUAL value at all, let alone equal value between us, it is only because God declares it to be so.

  • SimonTemplar

    So you are saying that, over and against nature, human civilization arbitrarily decreed equality between the sexes?

  • WmarkW

    I wouldn’t use the word “arbitrary.”
    Gender equality is based on Western principles of the political equality of all citizens, which are completely lacking in the animal world and most non-Western human societies.

  • SimonTemplar

    You might not use the word “arbitrary” but that’s what it is, if such rights only have their origins in principles which spring from the imaginations of Western minds. I think it is pretty easy to argue that we see no consistent example of it to serve as a model in the natural world.

    So how did Western minds conceive of this concept? Jefferson seems to have suggested that it comes from our Creator.

  • Secular1

    Simon, why this fixation about equality being arbitrary, besides that is your characterization. If you go through your holy scripture (in my view utter filth and tomes of amorality – but I digress), with a fine tooth comb, there is no notion of universal equality at all in there. To start of your tome declares that Hebrews are your malevolent deity’s chosen people. Just that assertion for ever removes any shadow of doubt that those tomes articulate any universal equality, anywhere in their words.

    Equality is a very deliberate meme that has evolved over the history. Even the scriptures preceding the bible had articulated some sort of equality (greek philosophers have predating OT & NT) and even your tomes do articulate equality but not at the same sophistication nor at same universality. It was a deliberate evolution championed by many a courageous ones and always detracted by the reactionaries.

    This evolution has been so compelling over the years that ardent lovers of middle eastern bronze age zeitgeist, cannot help yourselves in prevaricating to insert it into them decrypt tomes. Yes nature and natural laws impervious to human social constructs and mores. They are what they are, without any human deigned purpose – that is absolute. Purpose is uniquely human thing. There is no purpose ordained by nature nor by some non-existent sky daddy. Assertions to the contrary are just plain figment of imagination and compelling desire to foist the morality of decades of centuries gone by on the modern society.

  • Secular1

    Simon please read my response above.

  • SimonTemplar

    Sec, your argument here is wholly unconvincing.

  • SimonTemplar

    I’m glad that you have raised the question of the value of people (Hebrews vs. gentiles) in the eyes of God as this proves the point I was raising in the debate we had below. Our value comes from God. If he selects out a certain group of people as being separate, asking them to live differently from the people around them (as He did with the children of Abraham) then yes, they appear to become more valuable. Of course, He also said to Abraham, “All people will be blessed through you.” This is His right as the creator. HE alone sets the value for all of us.

    I would agree with you that it is unwise for us to presume how much value God places on each individual person (or on any of our accomplishments for that matter). Does he consider us to be of equal value? I don’t know off the top of my head and I would need to look into the scriptures more to see if we can ascertain this. But I believe it can be argued that if we do not know this information it is our duty to err on the side of equality and to treat each other as equals so as not to offend God.

    Notice, however, that we become bound to this position because God has been brought into the equation. Remove him from it, leave us with nothing but the laws of nature, and the argument for equality as an unalienable right evaporates. It becomes nothing more than the fragile concept held in the capricious minds of humans and supported by laws which more and more of our race believe were made to be broken.

  • Secular1

    Simon where do i begin with you man? You theists of all stripes, x’tiam, muslim, jew, zeusists, thorists, or hindus are all the same. You all get twisted like pretzels

    “Our value comes from God. If he selects out a certain group of people as being separate, asking them to live differently from the people around them (as He did with the children of Abraham) then yes, they appear to become more valuable.” This is the most silliest & childish of the statements. If it were really so, then that is the most arbitrary of the decisions. Perhaps singling out individuals for their actions is understandable, but that the preferences be bestowed on “Loins traceback” is indeed arbitrary and imposes no requirement of actions or behavior. Similar behavior by ones boss would be roundly condemned. As i always contended, this was a clever device by the bronze age hebrews to call themselves the chosen ones. It gave them a notion of superiority and also was useful to coalesce and cohere, against their competitors (Baalist, cananites, etc).

    “Of course, He also said to Abraham, “All people will be blessed through you.”” This is lot of horse manure. OT is also replete with proclamtions and admonishments against wh&ri*g with their gods. Which leaves an unmistakable impression you (hebrews) belong to him and the rest belong to the other gods. That is schizophrenic.

    “This is His right as the creator. HE alone sets the value for all of us.” And you worry that human consensus may be fragile and capricious. At the same time you concede that god can be arbitrary and capricious as it pleases it. If your god can place the value on you as he pleases without it being being a function of your behavior. leaves to twist and turn.

    It Continues below –

  • Secular1

    Continuing –
    “I would agree with you that it is unwise for us to presume how much value God places on each individual person (or on any of our accomplishments for that matter). Does he consider us to be of equal value? I don’t know off the top of my head and I would need to look into the scriptures more to see if we can ascertain this. But I believe it can be argued that if we do not know this information it is our duty to err on the side of equality and to treat each other as equals so as not to offend God.” How did you come to conclusion that treating all equally is position least harm? in light of the earlier assertions of his arbitrariness and capriciousness. You did not get that guidance from scripture. You got it from the human zeitgeist – again that thing that you are so unsure and worry about. in fact through out history people have been guided by the consensus of their peers. People thought it was OK to offer up child sacrifices or nubile virgin damsels to please the gods. Few hundred years ago expectation that slaves should meekly submit to their masters was the consensus. So they treated slaves arbitrarily harshly. Today the consensus is a person owning another person is immoral or at least very embarrassing. So even muslim countries have finally banned slavery at least on paper. Hence your default position

  • Secular1

    “Notice, however, that we become bound to this position because God has been brought into the equation. Remove him from it, leave us with nothing but the laws of nature, and the argument for equality as an unalienable right evaporates.”
    No you are wrong. Bringing in your god introduces chaos. We have to guess as to what the deity’s proclivities are from time to time. Introducing uncertainty and caprice into the equation. No the inalienable rights do not evaporate. These rights have been evolving into in our societies.

    “It becomes nothing more than the fragile concept held in the capricious minds of humans and supported by laws which more and more of our race believe were made to be broken.” It does not become fragile. It would require the entire society to do an 180 degrees, It is not like one individual, an eternal dictator changing his mind. Which you have already said was his privilege and beyond our machinations. For us to reverse the direction would require greater consensus.

  • persiflage

    ‘Sorry to burst your Humanistic bubble, but natural law is either the Law of the Jungle or the Law of God.’

    Periodically, intelligent humans have been able to transcend both – and here we are today for just that very reason. Isn’t that what a secular, democratically controlled government is really all about?

  • WmarkW

    Possibly, you can achieve near gender equality, if you get rid of sexuality and family life. Today’s debates about gender pay gaps often revolve around work-life balance and the effect that family needs have on women who can’t work the extra hours a man might, in order to get ahead.

    Our workplaces should do more to create half-jobs that primarily women with children would take. Homemaking is not a full-time job today, but it’s not a spare-time activity, either.

  • persiflage

    I came from a family where both parents always worked. In fact, my mother was higher in the pecking order at the state psychiatric facility where they were employed. I suspect this was cause for at least some of the household tension that persisted for all the years of my youth.

    There were some household based role variations and duties, but it always struck me as a joint effort – even with all the imperfections in the marriage. In some ways, I raised my self and that led to problems with authority vs autonomy that are with me today.

    Nevertheless, I got the kind of childhood that was only briefly available during the golden era of the 1950s. I’ve never felt short-changed – and have come to think much more fondly of my father, a man forever troubled by being married to a woman who insisted on total equality.