Feminists often portray the pre-feminist (pre-1970) era as one in which women were not valued or seen as being fully human. To cite one example of thousands, just this week the National Organization for Women wrote on their website: “Are women human? Do women deserve full human rights? The U.S. Senate isn’t sure.”
My belief is that while 1960s/1970s feminists had plenty of legitimate grievances, their insistence that society never valued women is false. In reality, men made enormous sacrifices to provide for their wives and children–a testament to the average man’s respect for women. In my column Hate My Father? No Ma’am! (World Net Daily, 4/8/02), I wrote:
“[There has been a] successful feminist re-writing of the pre-feminist past as a virtual dark ages where men lived like nobles and women were their serfs…Tens of millions of male blue collar workers–who put their bodies on the line in the coal mines and steel mills so their wives and children could live in safety and comfort–have been turned into oppressors. Their wives and children, for whom these men sacrificed so much, have been turned into their victims.
“Edited out of our history are the tragedies of millions of American men who were killed or maimed on what German socialist Rosa Luxemburg called the ‘battlefield of labor.’ The miners who died in cave-ins, explosions, or of black lung disease. The sailors and fisherman who died at sea. The oil refinery workers killed in explosions. The factory workers killed in industrial accidents. The construction workers who died carving train tracks and then highways through majestic mountain cliffs or the scorching desert. The construction workers who died building our bridges, dams, high rises, stadiums, and apartments.
“All of them have been forgotten, in part because there is no natural constituency which would like to remember them–the right generally does not dwell on yesterday’s struggling blue collar workers and heroic union men, and the left is beholden to the feminists, for whom any mention of men as special contributors or as victims is strictly forbidden.”
While reading one of Bill James’ baseball books recently, I stumbled upon another small but real example of how society viewed women 100 years ago. It concerns an incident involving George Davis (pictured), a turn-of-the century star baseball player, some of his teammates, and a devastating apartment fire.
Davis, then a player with the New York Giants, was on the way to the Polo Grounds with two of his teammates on April 26, 1900 when they saw smoke rising from an apartment building a couple of blocks away and rushed to the scene. It was a major fire which left 45 families homeless. According to the New York World’s article the next day:
“George Davis, Captain of the New York ball team, with ‘Kid’ Gleason and ‘Mike’ Grady of the same nine, had been among the first on the scene and had worked like Trojans in carrying down the helpless. They saw Mrs. F Van Lieben on the top floor of No. 304.
“‘There’s a woman up there!’ Capt. Davis exclaimed. He went up the ladder like a squirrel. The heat within blistered his face but he reached the woman and carried her down. She had nearly fainted from terror…
“Firemen Roach, Arene, Browning, and Gulick rescued Mrs. Sturges and her three daughters, cut off by flames on the fourth floor of No. 306. Bicycle Policeman Sturden rescued two girls from the third floor of No. 306. Mrs. Tibbetts and a three year-old child were taken from the fourth floor down the front fire-escape by ‘Kid’ Gleason and Capt. Davis.
“Mike Grady and Fireman Frederick Bluemmertt of Hook and Ladder No. 23 took Mrs. Pease in safety from the third floor. Bluemmertt’s hand was badly cut by crashing glass and he was taken to the J. Hood Wright Memorial Hospital.
“Interviewed about it on the scene, Davis told a reporter that ‘I didn’t do much. I just went up the ladder the same as the rest of the boys and helped to carry down women and children. Once I thought I was going to be cut off by the flames and be prevented from reaching a child that was holding out its arms to me. But I got through to the little one and reached the ground without either of us being hurt. I didn’t do half as much as Grady and Gleason. We were on our way to the Polo Grounds for preliminary practice before tackling the Bostons when we were attracted by the fire.'”
Three major league baseball players spontaneously risked their lives to save women and children (mostly girls), without a thought for their own safety, as did numerous firemen and policemen–hardly exemplary of men not valuing women and girls.