Woah Man, look out for those Women

“Women are not more moral than men. We are only uncorrupted by power. But we do not want to imitate men, to join this country as it is, and I think our very participation will change it. Perhaps women elected leaders—and there will be many of them—will not be so likely to dominate black people or yellow or men; anybody who looks different from us.”

The 1970s were a tumultuous time. In some ways, the decade was a continuation of the 1960s. Women, African Americans, Native Americans, gays and lesbians and other marginalized people continued their fight for equality. Economic equality of the sexes still proved an elusive goal. Even as women moved into nontraditional jobs and many companies established new job‐training programs and opened day care centers for working mothers, disparities in pay for men and women doing the same job remained significant. Businesswomen pointed to the existence of a “glass ceiling,” meaning that women could go so far up the corporate ladder but no farther. At the same time, gender stereotyping began to diminish. The use of gender‐neutral terms for certain jobs became part of the American lexicon.

Women desperately sought equality in the workplace, and wanted to assume the same responsibilities and opportunities men have had for centuries.

Train of Thought

Although social paradigm dictates that the transcontinental railroad was a marvelous innovation and signifier of the American manifest destiny, it is truly a representation of immorality by the wealthy and politically elite of the time. Howard Zinn asserts this accusation by stating, “The first transcontinental railroad was built with blood, sweat, politics and thievery, out of the meeting of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads.” (235).

With such a big project, fraud was almost inevitable. Millions of dollars in bonds and bribes were paid to politicians and companies in order to build the railroads. Overpayment became the norm and politicians were given shares at dirt low prices to allow this ‘thievery’ and to prevent investigation. Massachusetts Congressman Oakes Ames avows, “There is no difficulty in getting men to look after their own property.” (235). To make matters worse, thousand of immigrant and black labor was used to create the railroad. Making one to two dollars a day doing backbreaking labor, the workers risked their lives and died by the hundreds from all the risks they were exposed to. Some railroad workers even went on to join the populist workers having similar complaints to those of the farmers.

Zinn rebukes the mistreatment of the workers and the unethical practices of the railroad company/politicians, but doesn’t belittle the all the beneficial and practical uses this new system had. The chapter states that the steel company was inadvertently effected by the building of the railroads, as well as making it easier for people to travel, and allowing goods to be transported long distances (most notably meat products).