Gender Profiling?

April 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

I came across this passage in Edith Bolling Wilson’s 1939 autobiography.  She recounts an adventure in 1913 (before she married Woodrow Wilson) while accompanying friends around familiar London tourist attractions:

“… as I had been there many times before, I took my fountain pen and some writing paper in my bag to write some letters while the others went through the Tower.

On reaching the entrance [to the Tower of London] I was surprised to be told that on account of the outrages committed by the Suffragettes no one was allowed to carry anything in his hand; purses and bags must be sealed and checked at the gate.  I took out the paper and fountain pen and asked if I could take them with me.  The officer solemnly examined the pen and handed it back, saying:  “Thank you, I see no harm in that.”  I found a nice shady corner on one of the side entrances and settled myself to write.  Deep in a letter, I suddenly became aware of being watched.  I looked up to find a tall Britisher in a crimson-coated uniform, holding a gun, standing above me.  I was so surprised that involuntarily I said: “What’s the matter?” and before he replied I realized I was the centre of a circle of onlookers.  He said: “I am here to watch you; we don’t trust women these days.”  It was the day of tight skirts, so I could not have concealed a bomb had I tried, but it was so funny that even the soldier smiled when two others joined him and the three stood over me until my friends returned. . .”

Edith Bolling Wilson, My Memoir (New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1939), 42-43.

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