Gilman School is an all boys private school in Baltimore. I was invited to give a school talk with the senior history classes who are studying the 1960s. They had read my book, were assigned an essay to write about it (by their history teacher), and were well-prepared with questions. In addition the faculty had been given the book as required reading over the summer. (Interesting!) The school has 400 all male students; the faculty is 85 % male. So I was quite curious to find out what the reception would be. In the classes, many of the questions from the boys were about foreign policy and power. The girls from a girls school across the road, mostly asked questions about culture.
In the assembly, when I asked if most of the students thought the 60s were about sex, drugs, and rock and roll -- many hands went up. I'm not sure that I contributed much to enlarging the worldview of the students, but I do understand that the complex politics of the 60s -- not just the women's movement -- has been dropped out of our collective memory. And it made me understand why it is important to keep posting your reactions to the book. This is a shared history whose ramifications are ongoing. Gender is just a part of it.
Young women do not understand that they are still in the middle of an unfinished social revolution; and men (Mr. Thornberry excepted) generally think the whole subject is beside the point and 'let's move on'.
Certainly one of my most challenging audiences.