“This is a man’s world,” James Brown sang as sweat poured down his face and his voice cut with a plaintive soul that only he and maybe Otis Redding seemed capable of producing. But the Godfather of Soul wasn’t through, concluding, “but it would be nothing, nothing, notthhiiinnnng without a woman or a girl!”
This is the way that it once was. Less we forget.
I was watching an old Groucho Marx “You Bet Your Life” TV show on YouTube recently while churning away on the elliptical cross trainer. The episode was from 1954 and was sponsored by “De Soto-Plymouth from your Chrysler dealer”.
The half-hour game show featured a series of three couples who spun a wheel and won some money, but the real entertainment was watching Groucho interact with the couples who were little more than foils for his legendary ad libs.
But in each separate case when it came time to actually play the game, it was the man who took complete control, whether in determining the value of the question, or in giving the answer, rarely even conferring with his female partner, even when you could tell he didn’t know the answer and she did.
On each occasion the woman stood meekly by as Groucho asked the questions with the same patronizing tone that the man then answered. That’s just how the world was, and still is in many places. The strong will take and assume their right to do so.
This was the attitude that formed the world-view of generation after generation of women, know your place, it’s a man’s world.
But for quiet but dignified women like Michigan native Alice Schneider, a pioneering contributor to the New York Road Runners who passed away September 24th, that attitude was never a comfortable fit, nor one to be blindly perpetuated. The country was changing as Alice was coming of age. And so was the sport of running. (more…)