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V. Grey

Shop Talks on Socialism

(12 May 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 19, 12 May 1945, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

“I’ll be glad,” said Scissorbill Sam (the bosses’ man), “when all these here women are out of the shop. They belong in the kitchen, anyhow.”

Well, I don’t know,” said Pop after a well-aimed spit of coffee juice at the trash box. “Now I don’t know. ’Course babies is better off with women takin’ care of ’em. But whether women is better off that way is a moot question. I’ve heard tell there’s an awful lot of women folk go crazy every year just from listenin’ to babies cry all day long.”

“As a matter of fact ” said old George, the machinist, “I bet babies would be just as well off with men to take care of them as women. That is,” he added hastily, as the fellows started to laugh, “if you’re gonna feed them with a bottle. Only reason a man’s not handy at that stuff is that he works such long hours away from home that ...”

“Hey!” hollered Breezy. “Wait a second! I don’t care if I’m laid off for the whole year. You won’t see Breezy changing diapers and pouring powder down the kid’s back. That’ll be the day!”

“I ain’t trying to say who’s the best dydee pinner – man or woman. Guess I’d bet on the woman, myself.” Pop paused a moment, sort of to apologize for admitting a point of superiority in women. “But it don’t seem reasonable for women to have to do a job that some of them go crazy at. And most of them go down hill somethin’ awful after raising three or four babies.” Pop waited for somebody to contradict him. But how could anybody?

“It ain’t only the squallin’, either. It’s the awful mischief they get into. That’s what runs a body down trailing after them when they’re anywheres from one to three or four years old. A woman looks pretty old in a few years.”

What Can You Do About It?

“Yeah, that’s the way it is. But what are you going to do?” said Tony glumly.

The way he said it he didn’t expect any answer. But Pop was wound up pretty well that day.

“Tell you what I’d do if it was me,” Pop said. “I’d use a little sense and let women handle little tykes that were good at it. Women that liked it. Maybe have ten or fifteen youngsters in a real nice day nursery like the rich people have. Only do it all over the country. Then a woman would have a little time to bring up her youngsters the way she wanted to. Read them bed-time stories and things like that instead of boxing their ears all the time.”

“Aah, put away the pipe,” Breezy razzed the old man. “Nobody can afford that ritzy line of stuff not if they work for Bethlehem Steel!”

“Not today they can’t. But if it’s not too good for the rich,” said Pop stubbornly, “it’s not too good for the poor.”

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