We think we, as women are empowered now. After all, one is running for president now and we have a couple on the Supreme Court. Too little too late, I know, but at least we are a bit more than property. And we have been just that in my lifetime.
In 1969, I was just out of school and had settled in New Orleans. I was working and needed a car. I already knew what car I wanted - a Volkswagen bug. It was under $2,000 and easily affordable. I couldn’t pay cash for it, so needed financing. That shouldn’t be a problem, said my 28 yo still naive self as I took myself to a dealer near me.
I picked out the car I wanted and started negotiations. It took awhile - that part has not changed, but we finally settled on a price and I was sent off to see the finance guy. That has not changed either. And it was always a man. Don’t know if that is still the case, but bet it is.
We got all the papers filled out. I had the keys in my hand. The car was being prepped.
Then the finance man said, “Just have your husband come by and sign this loan agreement and the car will be yours.”
Huh?! My what? Who? That was my reply to the finance guy. He once again said that my husband had to sign. Or, he said, it could be my father.
If you know me, you know I was more than furious by that time. I calmly, or maybe not so calmly told him that no husband would be arriving to sign anything. EVER. And my dad was in Michigan and even if he were available, he would not sign it either.
I started to walk away, still turning the air blue. The salesman couldn’t figure out what to do. He was already counting his commission and I know had never run into a non submissive woman. A self supporting, credit worthy, working female who never planned on anyone supporting her, let alone signing for a loan.
He ran after me and said he would work something out. I don’t know what he did. I signed the loan agreement and drove off with the car. Maybe he cosigned it. If I knew he did, I would have defaulted on the loan and let the bastard be stuck with it.
It wasn’t until 1979 that this law was changed. Until then men/husbands could buy or sell property without his wife’t permission. “Hi honey, I sold your house.” How would you like to hear that? That means men could sell their wive’s property without their knowledge.
Just think, I would not have been allowed to buy a car until 1979 in Louisiana.
But I did, and more than one. Motorcycles too. Bought houses as well. Maybe the law was in name only.