Former Chart editor apologizes for ‘women not equal to men’ column

Bobbie Pottorff - KOAM Assistant News Director

Bobbie Pottorff – KOAM Assistant News Director

Bobbie Pottorff

At one time in my life, let’s just say I was not in my right mind, I wrote an editorial for this newspaper. The title of the editorial was “Too many women want to be men.” It was Sept. 22, 1988, and I was a sophomore, surrounded and outnumbered by men. On this, the week of the 95th celebration of International Women’s Day, I find myself wanting, no, needing to apologize for that editorial.

I’m sure there are a number of people who are still at this school that still remember that editorial. I basically suggested women were not equal to men. I said women weren’t fit for the presidency because they were too emotionally unstable for the position. I even said, and I’m quoting, “It has always been and will always be a man’s world, and women are going to have to accept it. Why fight human nature?”

As I read these words now, I shudder. I am not even sure why I want to call attention to what can only be described as the words of a little girl, who knew nothing about the world in which she was living. As I said, I was outnumbered and surrounded by men. For that I can only place some of the blame. There was a name they called us – feminists. I took offense to that word when I was 19.

As a young woman trying to make my way in a group made up of mostly men, I felt myself trying to shake what I thought was an insulting description of college-educated women. I didn’t want to be the one rocking the boat. I wanted to be liked by the boys. So I shot my mouth off, spewing out the words of a raving lunatic. It wasn’t an editorial; it was ignorance. I should have been removed from the position of editor for being such an idiot.

What I have come to learn, 16 years later, is I should be ashamed of myself for being so naïve. I have learned what it took to get where we (women) are today. There is a movie called Iron Jawed Angels on HBO that not only helped open my eyes but also made me appreciate what I have now.

I have learned how we are socialized to believe women are not equal to men. I used to believe that. I never doubted my intelligence, however. In fact, quite the contrary is true. I always knew I was much smarter than most of the men and boys in my class.

The rhetoric I believed was if I just let them think I was inferior, I would get my way.

What was I thinking?

I apologize to all the women I offended back then. If you are still around, you know who you are.

I must say I am older and wiser now, and I know to whom I should be grateful. Women like Alice Paul and those who went to jail and were tortured to further the cause of equal rights, not just for women, but for all people.

I have learned a lot from Dorthy Stuckey-Halley, Jan Venter-Barkley, Annetta St. Clair and Alice Paul. Stuckey-Halley and Venter-Barkley were my professors at Pittsburg State University. St. Clair was one of the professors who chastised me after that ridiculous diatribe. She thanked the newspaper “for the addition to the comic section.”

I still have the “editorial” as well as the responses and the cartoon that was printed a week later.

The cartoon was a pile of rocks with my legs sticking out and me holding a sign that had ERA crossed out.

I can only claim stupidity and offer my humblest apologies to the women who came before me.

I also want to say thanks to those who opened my eyes and to those who didn’t actually stone me.