Saturday the girls got a box from my Mom with the first three Bobbsey Twins books in it. The original version, not the 60s rehash I read. Brighteyes started on the first one at 9 in the morning. She finished it at 3 that afternoon while her Daddy was giving a soldering demonstration at the Rock and Gem club, which was very impressed at how quiet and well-behaved the girls acted. She had read the third book by bedtime Sunday night. I think we have a hit on our hands.
Sunday night I started reading the first book at bedtime for Sunshine's benefit. The first chapter included the assertion by a child that girls could only grow up to do certain jobs. Brighteyes frowned.
"Mommy, why did they say girls can't be soldiers? You showed us those pictures of girls soldiers in the Civil War."
"Well honey, they probably didn't know about those girl soldiers in the Civil War. Not a lot of people talked about them at the time.
People have never been completely effective at keeping all girls and women from doing any job they wanted to do; but they sometimes made it very hard for girls to do any job they wanted. They would do all sorts of things to keep girls from working certain jobs, like being a soldier. A girl could always be a soldier, but sometimes she had to pretend she was a man to get the job.
This book was written a hundred years ago. At that time there was a lot of effort put into keeping women out of a lot of jobs. But between then and now an awful lot of women -- and some men! -- worked very, very hard to make sure that girls could do any job they wanted without having to pretend to be a man."
Monday at lunch the conversation continued:
"Mommy, why did they try to keep girls from certain jobs?"
"Do you remember the Ages of History you learned?"
"What were they?"
"Um, Old Stone Age, New Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Industrial Age, Computer Age."
"Very good. Remember I said each new age came about because people invented some new way of making tools? I said that whenever that happened, a lot of people who had made their living with the old tools ended up out of work."
"Yes. While in general most people were better off, a lot of people were left without jobs.
A hundred years ago was in the middle of the Industrial Age. A lot of people were thrown out of work. Somebody decided that the way to handle all those people who didn't have jobs was to take jobs away from women and not let them work. That way men could work those jobs."
"I didn't say it was a good idea. It wasn't."
It'll be interesting to see where the Bobbsey Twins leads us next.