The History of Hawai‘i From Our Files: Exploring Women’s Rights in the 1970s
HONOLULU Magazine emerged from predecessor “Paradise of the Pacific,” which began in 1888, fulfilling a commission by King Kalākaua. That makes this the oldest continuously published magazine west of the Mississippi with an enviable archive worth diving into each month. Here’s a look back at April 1971.
“There are some females in Hawaii who find the ideas of the Women’s Liberation old hat. This is because they’re living them. They’ve worked at difficult, demanding jobs most of their adult lives, long before the movement was even a flicker in the collective imaginations” of feminists Betty Friedan, Ti-Grace Atkinson and Kate Millett.
That’s the start of writer Denby Fawcett’s feature about longtime liberated women in the Honolulu community. She did interviews with five couples, including Roy and Betty Vitousek, he an attorney and she well-known as a Family Court judge. Both are matter-of-fact about making their life work. He says: “She doesn’t come home and tell me the problems of her decisions and I don’t tell her about the trial I’ve got coming up in the morning. We just don’t interfere with each other’s careers.” She says: “I think you really have to care and have a degree of taking things in stride.”
Another power couple Fawcett profiles: Dr. Stanley Saiki and trailblazing politician Pat Saiki, who served for years in the state Legislature and then in Congress representing Hawaiʻi. Even while raising five children, she took off from work for only five years, a move supported by her husband: “When you weren’t working you were actually nasty,” he jokes in the interview. Pat Saiki adds that she always feels a need to be engaged: “I guess that’s because I was trying to do something. When I get involved I throw myself in wholeheartedly.” Saiki started in politics as a union organizer for teachers and kept getting reelected as an independent Republican who could get bipartisan support. Even after retirement, Saiki remains active in the community. At age 91, she’s doing interviews about a new biography she penned called A Woman in the House. And author and former war correspondent Fawcett these days writes a weekly piece for Civil Beat.
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