I’ve been reading an excellent book called Girl Sleuth, which is the story of how the beloved girl detective Nancy Drew came into being. It’s a fascinating read for anyone who is involved in the publishing business, or anybody who ever read the Nancy Drew mystery series.

For those not familiar with the girl detective, who first burst onto the scene in 1930 and went on to be the heroine of dozens of bestselling books that continue to sell well today, Nancy Drew was created by publisher Edward Stratemeyer, who was also responsible for such childhood book series as the Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift, and the Hardy Boys. The Stratemeyer Syndicate became the biggest publisher of children’s series books in history and employed a number of ghost writers to actually write the books from outlines supplied from the company’s headquarters. While Carolyn Keene is the name printed on the books, there was never a real author by that name associated with Nancy Drew. Most of the early books in the series were written by Mildred Wirt Benson, and a few other authors were assigned to the books over the years. When Edward Stratemeyer died in 1930, his daughter Harriet Adams assumed control of the family business, with her sister Edna becoming a (mostly) silent partner, and eventually she wrote many of the later books in the series.

In a time when women were considered to be flighty, frail creatures that were unsuited for anything other than having babies and hosting dinner parties, both Mildred Wirt Benson and Harriet Adams were groundbreakers. Both went to college when most Americans didn’t think a women needed a higher education, both defied the status quo to make their way in the publishing business, and both women drew both admiration and criticism for what some considered their brazen methods of achieving their goals.

As much as the book is about Nancy Drew and the publishing business, even more so it is a fascinating look at the history of the fight for women’s rights in America. It may be hard for our younger generations to believe, but there was a long time in our history when there was tremendous opposition to allowing women to get a college education, vote, or hold jobs outside of the home. When Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the country, in 1916, she was arrested and it was immediately closed down by the police. Not only was using contraception illegal, women were jailed for even possessing or distributing literature about birth control methods.

The establishment (read rich old white men) declared that nature had not equipped them for such things, and that furthermore, allowing women to do such scandalous things as get an education, run a business, or protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies would be the ruination of life in America forevermore. From their pulpits, preachers warned that allowing women to go to college or work outside the home was sinful and an offense to God. Newspaper headlines screamed about the decay of society that would happen if women were allowed to have the same rights as men. What about the sanctity of marriage? What about future generations of our children, who would grow up without morals? It took nearly a hundred years of struggle before American women were finally allowed to vote in a national election in 1920, and even then many people believed that they were not intelligent enough to make wise choices when they went to the polls.

It was not until manpower shortages during World War II and the rush to build arms and ammunition for the war effort that women were allowed to prove their worth in factories, turning out everything from bullets to bombers. But as soon as the war ended and the men came home, Rosie the Riveter was expected to turn in her time card and get herself back into the kitchen where she belonged.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? It should, because these are the same arguments that were used to keep African Americans in their place; to keep blacks and women from serving in the military in combat units, and to keep gay people from being allowed to openly serve their country or to be legally married.

And what do all of these arguments have in common? They were all made by old white men who wanted to preserve the status quo, namely keeping themselves in control of every segment of society. Those who scream about the holiness of the United States Constitution conveniently overlook the fact that it was that very document that originally declared that only white male property owners, who made up about 10 to 16 percent of the population, would be allowed to vote. I believe it’s an even smaller percentage that try to run the country and dictate how we should all live even today.

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26 Comments on Same BS, Different Day

  1. Marnin Lack says:

    Nick so true. Unfortunately this has been our history. Also don’t forget our treatment of our native Americans. I’m sure you will have many comments blasting you about this and we can’t do anything about their beliefs because you cannot argue against stupid.

  2. Sharon O says:

    So true. Nick you are stirring up the pot again, as you should. Good thing you have a tough hide, you can ride this out. It stirred my memory as to what a white divorced mother could not do.

  3. James Kileweather says:

    So what’s your point? That stuff is all ancient history. Women can vote, blacks can vote, gays can do their thing.

  4. Brian Evans says:

    You had me on your side until the last paragraph when you attacked the U.S. Constitution, the most sacred document in the history of the free world. Then you revealed your true colors.

  5. Rob Fox says:

    Ah ….. Bad Nick … a multi faceted diamond in the rough.

    Merry Christmas to you and all.

  6. Rick Stevens says:

    Great post, Nick. I’m sorry I ever suggested you were serious about your injurious post about gays, where all you were being was sarcastic.
    As an old white man, I’m glad I come down on the side that supports equality, justice, and fairness to all in this great country. God help those that hold fast to maintaining the status quo for reasons of ignorance, greed, and insecurity. And, unfortunately, there are as many old white ladies out there of equal insecurity and ignorance.

  7. Mike Rado says:

    Relax, Brian. I don’t think Nick is attacking the Constitution of the United States unjustly. One of its strengths is Article V, which provides for amendments…like the 10 amendments known as the Bill of Rights. Thankfully, the first amendment protects freedom of speech and freedom of the press. So, Nick has a right to express his feelings.

    But that was an amendment…the first of the Bill of Rights amendments. Those were important changes to the Constitution and it would not be as strong a document without them. The amendments are interesting; 10 of them affected the original articles. One of them was repealed by another (ending prohibition) and two of them affected other amendments.

    Part of the strength of the Constitution is the right to change it as well as the effort it takes to make that change.

    Give a man who has defended his country the right to point out its faults. Never mind. The first amendment already does that. It’s good that they added that.

  8. George says:

    You hit the nail on the head.

    It is a sad reality, that rich white men seem to be taking us backwards. With middle class support, thinking they earned it and deserve it somehow, if you can wrap your head around that.

  9. Fred Wishnie says:

    It’s always been such. Those in control will do anything to hold it. What I find baffling is that in a democracy the majority consistently vote against their own best interests, base on emotional “wedge” issues.

  10. Fred, I can’t figure that out either. And that chasm is widest here in the South. But even up north, even my 94 yo mother in MIchigan is solidly Republican, the party who consistently votes to regulate women’s bodies.

  11. Connie Bradish says:

    Everyone seems to love attacking rich white men. It’s always their fault. Well, I’m not a rich white man but I give them their due. While everyone loves to bash them I like to thank them because rich white man started this country and made it great. They were not perfect but they sure deserve our thanks not our ridicule.

    Frankly I think it’s time to change the voting system. Every one gets 1 vote for every dollar they paid in federal income tax. If you didn’t pay any federal income tax, no vote. And you can even buy votes with $100 minimum and $100 increments. The people who pay the freight in this country should decide how the money is spent. Period.

  12. Kris says:

    Connie, clever idea! But it won’t work because the richest of the rich wont pay any taxes at all. (Although I suppose that’s an unfair over generalization). But we do need to figure a way to end the gravy train of those that position themselves to receive governmental aid while preserving that aid for people who genuinely need it. Perhaps we should bring back the draft, both for men and women? Give young people a head start on a career, a sense of self pride and patriotism. Might do the country good.

  13. Sue C says:

    I want to comment on what Connie B wrote, but it is so absurd that all I can do is apply this part of what Marnin L wrote: “we can’t do anything about their beliefs because you cannot argue against stupid”.

  14. Diane says:

    Connie are you sure about this, “Everyone gets 1 vote for every dollar they paid in federal income tax.”

    This would mean that about 10 to 20 people would be electing our leaders.
    Wait that’s just about what’s going on now.

  15. Al Hesselbart says:

    Sorry Nick but I agree with Brian that your attack on the document that allows you to publish your works is off base. Support for equal “Rights” for criminal freeloading aliens and all types of perverts, sexual and otherwise, also loses me.

  16. Terry says:

    Al

    “Support for equal “Rights” for criminal freeloading aliens and all types of perverts, sexual and otherwise,also loses me”

    Sorry, but I am a little lost, did Nick say that I read over it again and I must have missed something.

  17. Jim@HiTek says:

    For the life of me, I can’t see where Nick ‘Attack’ed the constitution. He made a statement of fact. The document was meant to be dynamic and changeable based on current conditions, which is why we have amendments.

    Good rant, Nick.

  18. Dave W5 says:

    Without the people who do the actual work in this country the rich white men would only be white Men!…

    My Mother who enrolled in SF academy of fine arts in the 20’s was pulled out by her father and told that she would have a respectable job like other women as a secretary. My Grandmother who was the head of the Red Cross at the time Napa CA Chapter took my mother back and re- enrolled her in school in SF the next week when she found out.

    My grandfather was a rich white man. I learned from my grandmother and am a lot happier today for it.

  19. Susan says:

    Great article Nick. As an avid reader of the Nancy Drew Mysteries when I was a girl, to Women’s Liberation Movement in the 60’s, I have always loved doing the things that were not necessarily “women’s work”. I must, however, give the most credit to my parents who never tried to steer me into a stereotype. They were truly the best thing that ever happened to me.

  20. Jodie S. says:

    Those who have fought for and gained their rights must not forget that the battle does not end there. There will always be those who want to take those rights back.

    The beauty and strength of our Constitution is that that, in the end, if the people persevere, the law is on their side.

  21. Marcie says:

    Nick, you are the first man I’ve ever heard defend Nancy Drew as a role model. I’ve always been thankful that my folks bought a new book each week,while getting my brothers The Hardy Boys. It didn’t stop there. They also encouraged us to read each other’s books . No “gender appropriate” books in our house. Because of those early days I’ve always loved puzzles and problem solving.

    I feel the Constitution was written during a time when tradition was important. Men took care of their womenfolk. But nowhere does it say that women are less than men.Those enlightened Founding Fathers were savvy enough to provide for amendments in order to allow for change and progress in their new nation.

    Love this blog Nick, sharing it so that more folks will get to read it.

  22. Dave W5 (doreen - the wife) says:

    I love your comments Nick.
    I served in the Army Security Agency (early to late 70s)but initially was told that ‘women & blacks’ aren’t allowed. More than 10 years later (yes folks, the 1980s), as a mixer driver (Teamsters) and union laborer, I was told that women and blacks aren’t allowed in these jobs. Mind you, neither the term women nor blacks were used. To all of these people I simply said, “I get black in the summer, may I please count as both”?
    Those of us who served in the military did so for a number of reasons, one of which was to allow Americans to continue to have their rights – to include freedom of speech. Those of us who served are allowed that freedom also – much to the chagrin of many people.
    I’ll refrain from going into dissertation mode on the Constitution save for this: are you all aware of the fact that each state has its own bill/declaration of rights? they all say different things. OH NO! Here’s another subject.
    Keep up the good work Nick!

  23. Ron Butler says:

    Wow – since when is pointing out the short comings of the founding fathers and their prejudices being reflected in our Constitution an “attack” on it? Mind staggering if we have gotten to the point that we can’t handle a critical examination of a great document and point out how the prejudices and beliefs of the authors are reflected in it. Thankfully, as someone has already pointed out, they also provided a means for improving it for future needs through amendments. It seems that there were several people that were reading their own prejudices into Nicks rant which was never mentioned or alluded too. I also think that the strength of the Constitution AND the Declaration of Independence was that all human beings hold these/those rights and freedoms.

    Good job in stirring the pot Nick!!

  24. Lorna says:

    Nick, you are wrong. White men, Black men, Brown me, most men have kept women “in their place”, that “place” being wherever it was most convenient at the time by whatever means they felt was needed.

  25. Allan says:

    I think the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were remarkably thought out and thoroughly discussed in the open, not behind closed doors and secretly. They were not made just for their day and time but to withstand through the ages. It has stood the test of time and it is still relevent today. There is a way to ammend it but it has been unnecesary to continually change it. The founders were men of good character[Iwill not chase the race comment] and made this for the good of the people. They chose wisely the republic form of government with 3 branches each with distinct purposes, not to over-reach their assigned duties. Every government official that takes the oath of office is obliged to obey the Constitution.

    I think all citizens of our country; men, women, people of all colors, religions deserve to be treated with respect. I am pleased that women have rights and are now being recognized for their abilities and achievments. We have to protect children rights also. They can not speak and protect themselves, both the born and the unborn.

  26. Elizabeth says:

    I enjoyed reading the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series BOTH when in grade school. Back in the 1960’s. I have heard that recent editions have been changed. I thought they were just fine as they were. Too bad.

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