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  • Betty Girardeau

Times Have Changed, Thankfully!

What a different world for women and young girls than it was in 1965 when the movie "The Sound of Music" was released. Recently while I have been listening to music on my Sonos device I have come up with a listing that included quite a few pieces from that movie, a movie that I think all of has many fond memories of. But while listening recently to one of the songs, "You are Sixteen, Going on Seventeen," I became startled by the lyrics. What a male dominated theme. Of course, it was reflective of its time, which was actually my time as I was only 23 at the time. When I was sixteen, going on seventeen, my options going forward in my life were pretty limited: marriage, teacher, nurse, secretary, etc. Even in 1965, married for three years and the mother of a young son with a husband deployed to Viet Nam, I still did not see myself as much more than the female I had been brought up culturally to believe I could be. I supported the ERA Amendment in 1972, but my husband didn't and would not approve of my going to a rally in support of it at the Virginia State capital. I admit to not having the strength to oppose him and go anyway, something that I regret. BTW, in January 2020 the Virginia State assembly did approve this amendment and became the 38 state to do so, meeting the qualifying level for this amendment to be added to the United States Constitution. But there were issues dealing with how many years had passed and whether or not that vote by the Virginia Assembly would count. So in January of 2022 "Virginia’s new Republican Attorney General ended a legal campaign to get the federal government to recognize the state’s ratification of the landmark Equal Rights Amendment, the long-running effort to enshrine women’s equality in the Constitution. Attorney General Jason Miyares withdrew.. from an appeal seeking to compel the U.S. archivist to certify that Virginia, Illinois and Nevada — the final three states needed for the amendment’s approval — had properly certified it." But despite the lack of inclusion of such an amendment to the Constitution, women have over my life time pushed forward anyway. Good for them (us).

Today my daughter has a very high level job in a tech company. My granddaughters have so many more options for what they want to do and can become than I could ever have imagined. While I would not want to have to grow up again, I really do wish I had been born a bit later than I was. I know a lot of things I would have done differently. Now, as a woman who has dealt with all of what it is to be a widow and on your own, I know I have always had what it takes to have had a different life experience. And I would have not needed a man to tell me what they thought I needed to know, as this song from "The Sound of Music"says.

Here are the lyrics for those that want to read them:

You wait, little girl, on an empty stage

For fate to turn the light on

Your life, little girl, is an empty page

That men would want to write on


To write on


You are sixteen going on seventeen

Baby, it's time to think

Better beware, be canny and careful

Baby, you're on the brink

You are sixteen going on seventeen

Fellows will fall in line

Eager young lads and roues and cads

Will offer you food and wine

Totally unprepared are you

To face the world of men

Timid and shy and scared are you

Of things beyond your ken

You need someone older and wiser

Telling you what to do

I am seventeen going on eighteen

I'll take care of you


I am sixteen going on seventeen

I know that I'm naive

Fellows I meet may tell me I'm sweet

And willingly I believe

I am sixteen going on seventeen

Innocent as a rose

Bachelor dandies, drinkers of brandies

What do I know of those

Totally unprepared am I

To face the world of men

Timid and shy and scared am I

Of things beyond my ken

I need someone older and wiser

Telling me what to do

You are seventeen going on eighteen

I'll depend on you

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