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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Suzanne Post, June 23, 2006. Interview U-0178. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Post's struggles to get the ACLU to recognize feminism's contributions

One of Post's biggest struggles was to get the ACLU to recognize the importance of gendered inequality and affirmative action. She also remembers the struggles she had within her own marriage as she became increasingly a feminist and her husband did not.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Suzanne Post, June 23, 2006. Interview U-0178. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

You said it was about from '69 to '80, is that when you—. Part of the goal of that was not only to make the ACLU more diverse, but also to bring issues before the ACLU dealing with women. What sorts of issues were you dealing with?
SUZANNE POST:
If I remember correctly, we were dealing with affirmative action. It was a really hot, really hot issue, because a disproportionate number of the ACLU national board were academics and a disproportionate number of the ACLU board were Jews, and Jews had historically been shut out of higher education by quotas. In fact, I had been told by my mother when I was fifteen, while we were washing dishes and I announced I wanted to go to medical school, that that was impossible because they had a quota for girls and a quota for Jews: "You'll never get in." Affirmative action was a really big issue for women to promote in terms of the ACLU taking the right position, because there was a lot of resistance among these male academics, Jewish—not just Jewish, but there was a lot of resistance to affirmative action.
SARAH THUESEN:
Did you sense that there was more resistance on affirmative action with regard to women or more resistance with regard to—
SUZANNE POST:
Women, women, women. Awful. I mean, there was just a huge amount of sexism in that organization. They were products of their time too. It's very hard to rehabilitate sexists. The only way it can happen is if their moms decide that they're going to raise different children.
SARAH THUESEN:
Can you remember any particular comments or discussions among these male academics about affirmative action?
SUZANNE POST:
No, I really can't, Sarah, because it was done on such a high level. It was always done in a veiled kind of way. Nobody came out and said—. I can't even remember precisely. It was very charged, I remember that. Those were very charged debates and one of the men on the national board, who was a volunteer general council, who was a law professor from Rutgers and the head of their constitutional law clinic and a very, very close friend of mine, was very opposed. He said the difference between discrimination against people on the basis of color and gender are just totally different. It's just so much worse. And I had a gazillion discussions with him and would get angry. Finally, somehow, I don't know, over a period of a couple of years, he changed his mind and realized it was the same damn thing. My position was every man's got a nigger in his household somewhere and she's probably wiping his kids' bottoms and they want to keep it that way. They just don't see it. They just cannot see it. They're too close to it. It's pretty insidious. I'm sure that my husband believed in his heart that he didn't feel that way and yet every Passover when I would have twenty-one of our family to my house for Passover service, I would do all this work, because I was working too. And I have to organize a meal and make matzo ball soup and da da da da da, all that stuff. Ugh. You start three days in advance and two days in advance and you have to be an engineer to get it right. And you come home from work early that evening that you get off at say three o'clock, so that you can get everything set up. And at six o'clock in the evening, your husband walks in the door and walks to the head of the table and sits down. I began to really resent the hell out of it. There were times when I perpetuated that. So getting rid of that stuff by women and by men, it just takes a really long time. To raise your children asexually just isn't easy. It really is true that the boys go for the trucks and the girls for the—. It really is not easy. The only thing you can do is try and show them that the roles in the family between the mom and the dad are as devoid of some of that baggage as possible. You're never going to eradicate it all. I mean, we're different. We're different.