Using an Anthology about the 60s and 70s with Younger Generations

TimesTheyWereChanging_BkCovrHere at the Lit Ladies blog, we range in age from a senior in high school to a baby boomer. We love the idea of the anthology Times They Were A-Changing, and we are honored to have a guest post from editor Kate Farrell about using this book with a younger generation, like our own Little Lady! Thank you to WOW! Women On Writing for sponsoring the blog tour! We are also excited to offer a giveaway! We have either a print copy or e-book for US/Canada mailing addresses or an e-book for international mailing addresses. Enter to win on the Rafflecopter form below!

How Times They Were A-Changing Can Engage Discussions with Younger Generations

by Kate Farrell

Times They Were A-Changing is a dynamic collection of diverse personal stories and poems of the ‘60s & ‘70s. Stories beget more stories while poems evoke imagery and emotion, all stimulating discussion. For women who experienced those times, this book brings back memories they want to share. For younger women who came of age in other decades, the anthology becomes a point of comparison.

Born and reared in decades following the ‘60s & ‘70s, young women today confront the same questions we began to ask about ourselves then. We were the generation that dared to ask and demand answers about feminine identity, self-image, opportunity, and our place in society.

Because of the choices we insisted on making, women today can, if they choose, pursue personal and unique identities based on their innate skills and achievements. They can explore an ever-increasing array of opportunities, and become socially active in their communities, local and global. However, the manner of their exploration and self-discovery appear to be different.

Points for discussion:

Identity: Self Definition
In the book, there are personal stories that seek to redefine who a woman is and to break away from the traditional social expectations of housewife and mother. In reading these stories and appreciating their individual circumstances, consider these questions about how women today create their own identities beyond conventional expectations.

• Do today’s young women have to leave their hometowns, separate completely from family, and establish roots on their own to dare claim the status of an unmarried woman? “Proud Spinster” [title of story in the anthology]
• Do they still need to battle against the social norms and divorce their husbands in order to express themselves and find value in their own convictions? “Fast Forwarding Evolution”
• Must they rebel against their fathers to support their own and their mother’s personal ambitions? “Dispatches from the Heartland.”
• Can they survive with dignity in the military and other long-standing institutions? “Mrs. Lieutenant”
• Are the issues for identity the same in some cases today or entirely different?

Kate Farrell

Kate Farrell

Career Opportunities
Fifty years ago, career opportunities for a young woman were quite limited: teacher, secretary, nurse. Among this limited range were the options of joining a convent to become trained as a teacher or nurse or go to college for that training. She was expected to go to college until she married, or she could have a “second job” in these careers once she was married. Being a co-ed on a college campus was seen as an opportunity to find a good husband or to qualify oneself as educated enough to attract a good husband. In some of the stories in Times They Were A-Changing, we find young women who sought their own career independence within the convent, on campus, within training programs, and even dangling from a high-rise windowsill! Some of these stories show the length to which young women took to reach for new opportunities. Consider these questions:

• Do young women today take on a religious role to step outside the social norm and find new career choices within the apparent confinement of a convent? “On Being A Marxist Nun from Kansas”
• On college campuses, do female students feel a need to assert equal rights? “The September Wind”
• Do women today need specialized training in communication and other skills to take their place in their chosen careers? “The Assertive Woman”
• For some, is there a need to take on “man’s work” to prove a point? “A Clean Glass Ceiling”

Social Activism
So much of the ‘60s & ‘70s decades was about social activism, mass marches, and movements that filled city streets and college campuses. The civil rights, peace, and women’s liberation movements, all carried risks as collective, grass roots stands against the establishment. The idealism and exhilaration of participating in these movements are captured in some of the anthology stories. Are women today willing to take risks to create social change?

• What are the social issues today that galvanize young women to take group action? What form does it take? “Revolution and Egg Salad Sandwiches”
• How do young women today celebrate and communicate their power? “To Change the World, London, 1972”
• What is the social legacy of first wave and second wave feminism? “Marching with Kay Boyle”
• How do young women translate social needs into individual action? “Catch the Wind”

There are so many ways a woman can express herself now, and many young women are curious about the era that helped to make it all possible. This book tells how it happened, one woman’s story at a time.

If you are interested in purchasing Times They Were A-Changing, please see:

Don’t forget to visit the holiday book sale page–authors have personalized books and provided packages (with gift-wrapping and s/h) all under $15.75!

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  • Thank you all for hosting Times They Were A-Changing as part of our blog tour with WOW! Women on Writing! We appreciate your including our book and this particular topic.

    We women today are constantly finding ourselves, discovering who we are and who we can be. It’s an exciting time and it all began back in the “Times.” We hope to hear from some of your readers (and boomers) how it was for them and what they’d like to share with younger women today! What would be terrific is to hear from younger generations, their take on women’s issues now. We learn from one another, often through our personal stories.

  • I was a young child during the 70s, so I don’t remember a lot–my memory is going. . .but I do feel like women really paved the way for the rest of us and it is only getting better. My mom lost her job as a secretary in the early 80s and got a job as a secretary at a university where she could finish her bachelor’s degree for free. THen she went on to get her master’s degree and kept moving up the ladder in her career too. She taught me that first she stayed home until I was 5 and took care of me, but then she could still have a career–she went back to work at the same place and then didn’t give up even when she lost that job, and it became a better opportunity, actually. . .I am trying to do the same for my daughter 40 years later. Things have changed, but two things are the same: 1. family is still very important and there’s nothing like your mama 2. women can have great success at their careers and not have to sacrifice their family!

    Thanks for your book and post, Kate!

    • Hi Margo (aka Sandwich Lady),
      Sounds as though your mother was quite a wonderful example of being a dutiful and loving mother as well as nurturing her own career through education. Part of being in the Sandwich generation now is looking back and looking forward as a woman: the changes for us were SO rapid, shifts from one generation to the next. As a culture, we are still trying to answer many questions about how to “have it all”: motherhood, career, relationships, lifelong goals.

      In 1963, it was my mother who read the Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan while I was away at college in San Francisco. Inspired by the book, she learned to drive (my brothers and I taught her), returned to college to receive her BA, then on the graduate school. In fact, she and I were both in graduate school at the same time, ’69-’70. She needed more support than I–and I gave that to her: sewing an upholstery cover for her day bed with throw pillows to match, visiting her to help her move in and out of various student housing. Our roles reversed then and never reverted. In a way, I became a sandwich generation in my twenties, caring for my mother’s needs first, even before I became a mother! All because of the opportunities that came about in the ’60s and ’70s. I never thought about that until now…

      Thanks for your comments. We hope this book gives rise to many insights about the past, present, and future for women–through their stories!

    • Hi Margo,

      Thank you for your comments and reflections based on your own (and your mother’s) experiences during these times. I was young during the 60’s (married in the early ’70s). My mother, who was unusually independent for a woman of those times modeled that anything was possible for a woman who had drive and determination. That said, she paid a large price for her independence.

      As a career woman and mother myself (now grandmother), I think it is very difficult still to have a successful career and care for your family — especially since the role of caregiver is still squarely on the woman’s shoulders, though men are taking on more of those responsibilities these days.

      I sometimes fear that we women may lose the progress won through hard work and determination if we do not engage the younger generations. So thank you for chiming in and for continuing the discussion!

  • I stay home with my kids and know that being a SAHM was common back then. Now mom’s struggle to stay at home (financially or they’re just plain bored staying home). Being a SAHM now can be pretty isolating. “Back then” so many other moms and kids in your neighborhood would stay home, too, so you had a community to hang out with. That’s what I’ve really noticed as a woman these days.

    • Hi Camille (Spirit Lady), It could be lonely as a SAHM these days with so many mothers at work. I often wish there was more flexibility for working mothers, especially those with very young children. Maybe that’s a future worth creating. It’s great that you are part of this blog team, are active in sharing your life and thoughts outside of your immediate community circle. Thanks so much for your comment!

    • Spirit Lady (love the name), I think it would be wonderful to be privileged to be a Stay at Home Mom these days — so many families need both parents to work. Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve been both a SAHM (love the acronym) and a career woman. IMO, Women should be more valued for the work we do, whether it is at home or in an office. Hang in there, and keep connecting with other women who support what you do! Sincerely – Amber

  • I’m a child of the ’60s and a teen of the ’70s. Gotta read this book!

    • Good to hear, Dianna! Today is the very last day the Kindle edition will be on sale for 99 cents. That price has made a big difference in our sales rank for Kindle edition—moving up to #4 and #6 in some categories. It’s great to see the book get out there in the world.

      And the WOW! blog tour is definitely a big push, as well!

  • Kudos to your mom for showing you that women can work and be good moms, too, Sandwich Lady:) I can see where you must get your work ethic from now. My mother graduated high school in 1974 and was married with a baby (me) less than two years later. That marriage didn’t work out, and she remarried again in the early 80s. She came from a family of five (four girls, one boy) and none of the kids had any desire or means to further their educations after high school. I have to say it really motivated me as a child, watching my mom work retail job after retail job with no hopes of advancement. I became the first person on my mom’s side of the family to graduate college, so unfortunately paving the way didn’t come early enough for my mom or her sisters. They didn’t have any female role models around them to encourage their growth, and they were also limited by the cultural expectations of their Hispanic parents (women got married, raised kids and stayed home).

    Thanks again Lit Ladies for this great post and giveaway opportunity!

    • Thanks, Renee, for organizing the blog tour! Sounds as though you had to create your own path in getting that college degree. Congrats!

      I worked my way all through college, but college for women went through such change even during my four years. When I began as a freshman in 1959, college was almost a “finishing school” for young ladies, to prepare them for a good marriage. By 1963, college was a ticket to a profession and financial independence, perhaps to graduate school. I felt the pressure to achieve and it wasn’t always easy to find my new identity with its higher set of expectations. (Gulp)

    • Renee, thank you for sharing your story with us. Funnily (is that a word?), I am the only girl in a family of six children. However, that’s where the similarity stops between your family and mine. My mother was a High School (and later community college) English teacher who earned her Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. degrees — all while raising six children, mostly as a single mother. Growing up, I knew I was expected to follow the same path — an expectation I resisted believing I could never meet (and doubted I wanted to). I did, however, go on to earn two Master’s degrees in education and creative writing.

      Role models are so important. I applaud you for paving the way for future generations of young women in your family!

  • I was already a young mother, minister’s wife in 1960. Two more children, graduate school and a career teaching (from which I’ve bee retired sixteen years) filled my life for years. Now I have written a novel set in the sixties and am enjoying this anthology in ebook already. It’s a great read! Thanks!

    • Lee: Thanks for stopping by and letting us know that you are enjoying the book.

      Also, @Kate: Thanks for reminding people about the 99 cent Kindle sale through She Writes Press. I meant to do that, too. :)

      Love this discussion! :)

    • Lee, I bet you have a unique view of those times … What’s the name of your novel? Are you self-publishing or publishing traditionally?

  • Super cool post. It’s true that the younger generations are facing a lot of different things that older generations are not, but there’s still an ever-present theme of finding yourself and independence and such that every generation has got to go through. Very cool post, it’s funny to think that in thirty years or so, my generation could write a book describing OUR experiences growing up. I still think my generation now can definitely learn from the 60’s and 70’s and the women then, too. Thanks for writing a guest post here!

    • LIttle Lady: What’s even scarier than thinking in 30 years your generation could write a book like this–songs on the radio now start showing up on the oldies station and you remember all the words. :) That’s what happens to me just about every day. 😉

      • I guess it would be worse if I couldn’t remember the words.

So, what do you think?