Now that I have a chunk 'o lifetime banked, it's sometimes a good exercise to look back and think about where the world was when I got here, and how it is now. I am often frustrated by the sad lack of progress we've made in 50 years -- the idealistic, youth-driven belief of the 1960s that we would soon be living in a free, equal, and discrimination-free society has not come to full fruition, and likely never will. But when I get really down about the subject, I make myself go back and remember that the America I was born into as a female has indeed changed, and for the better. In the early '60s, girls were still expected to be sweet and submissive, pretty and perfect, and should aspire to no higher goal than snaring a husband ASAP and raising a family. Well, OK, if you wanted to go to junior college for a secretarial course or teach Sunday School or work as a bank teller for a few years, no harm done. But it just wasn't right if a girl or young woman desired something else, and the pressure was constant and omnipresent to conform.

But I was lucky. By the time I was a teenager, highly-effective birth control was widely available to women, freeing a generation of women for the first time to be able to say, nah, think I'm gonna go to grad school, think I'm gonna start a business, think I'm gonna wait awhile before taking on the responsibilities of a family. Gonna have a little ME time, or a whole damn ME life, for that matter -- as men always could. I am endlessly grateful to the generation of women before me who fought so hard and so long for the legal and medical protections that woman always deserved. Because of them, I was able to choose my life, rather than accept my lot.

I was rummaging around in a local antiques mall this weekend, and came across a book that I was unfortunately familiar with, but hadn't thought about in many years: "Fascinating Womanhood" by Helen Andelin, published in 1963. Oh, brother, what a piece of work. Young women of today who have zero idea of how very real repression was back then might pick this up, read a few pages, and think it must be some new publication from The Onion. But it's no joke. "Fascinating Womanhood" sold millions of copies, telling women that their one and only goal in life should be doing whatever it takes to please their husbands -- anything less was a shameful failure. The book inspired the "anti-feminist" movement, which is still going strong today, sadly. Since I would never want you to buy this book, I thought I might pull some quotes from it for you. Pick an emotion and go with it!

1. "Love is not reserved for the young, the single, nor the beautiful. It is reserved for those who arouse it in a man. If a man does not love with his heart and soul, it is entirely the woman's fault."

2. "Within these pages I will point out those principles which she must obey if she is to be happy, loved, and appreciated. My aim is to teach her how to become 'The real woman,' the kind she is designed to be, the kind a man wants."

3. "(This book) will teach you...how to be attractive, even adorable, when you are angry.

4. "(This book will teach you...how to gain true happiness in marriage, while placing the husband's happiness as the primary goal."

5. "If a man is critical, and you are guilty, it is only right to admit it. Thank him for reminding you that you were in error. Man, as your ruler feels somewhat responsible to teach you."

6. "Some very fine men have violent tempers. But if you could understand what he suffers and why, you would be more sympathetic. He doesn't become angry with you without reason. You may have hurt his pride, or trampled on his freedom, or stolen from him his right to rule his own children. Whatever the reason, he is provoked at you and it is a very frustrating feeling."

7. "Remember that by nature you are not capable. If you have any masculine capabilities, you have acquired them unnaturally. God did not create woman for the strenuous masculine responsibilities."

8. "There are some women who laugh in a very unfeminine manner. They open their mouths wide, throw back their heads, close their eyes and roar. If these extremes are avoided the laugh will probably be at least acceptable."

9. "Of course, a great mother could become a great artist. But if such secondary greatness is not added to the which is fundamental, it is merely an empty honor."

10. "A woman need not be well-educated, or possess high intelligence to follow a clever man's discourse. In his pleasure at having himself admired the man seldom notices that his conversation is not understood."

See why I feel like a dodged a bullet? Because this isn't some weirdo fundamentalist chick spewing her wacky idea of patriarchal bliss...this is how things were. Hilarious now, yes, and still scares the living crap out of me.

I only wish that in 1963 my first baby words would have been directed at Helen Andelin, and that those words would have been "EFF YOU."