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March 7, 2022

Lois Rabinowitz, After Being Ejected From Court for Wearing Trousers, 1960

Newlywed Lois Rabinowitz, 28-year-old secretary, is seen after she got a lecture on how to dress and was ejected from traffic court in New York City for wearing tight slacks on August 9, 1960. She went to court to pay a $10 fine for her employer, who was charged with speeding on East River Drive. Judge Edward D. Caiazzo would not allow her to pay the fine, adding “you will have to come back August 11, and you will have to be properly dressed.”

Her husband Irving, delayed in parking his car, arrived later and paid the fine. Magistrate Caiazzo advised Irving to “start now and clamp down a little, or it’ll be too late.”

Reporters were called in and Rabinowitz was photographed wearing the offending outfit. Caiazzo stated that “I get excited about this because I hold womanhood on a high plane and it hurts my sensibilities to see women tearing themselves down from this high pedestal.”

Gail Collins, in her 2009 book, When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present said Caiazzo’s statement “was a convoluted expression of the classic view of sexual differences: women did not wear the pants in the family—or anywhere else, for that matter. In return, they were allowed to stand on a pedestal.”

Gail Collins, a New York Times Op-ed columnist and former editor of the op-ed page, begins her book with the story of Rabinowitz to show how attitudes and opportunities for women started changing in the tumultuous 1960s and 1970s. As Collins says, “The conviction that women’s place was in the home, that they were weaker than men and weren’t really up to life in the public world... were beliefs that had existed for thousands of years, and they were shattered in my lifetime. That thought still knocks me out.”

Women are still battling for equality, but a few decades ago women were chastised for appearing in court wearing trousers. Now the magistrate is likely to be a woman.


  1. "Women are still battling for equality..."

    yeah, maybe in the middle east. but let's stop pretending there's institutional oppression against women in the 21st century.

  2. You can't be serious. Women do not have equal representation in government and women running for, or holding public office are harrassed daily. Even a woman running for the highest office in the nation was told, "Iron my shirt". Ocasia-Cortez was called a "fucking bitch" by a Florida congressman. The Supreme Court has a draft ready to reverse Roe v Wade and states are banning abortions. How many women are in office to decide this issue? How many women were even consulted? Women are caregivers but for the most part do not have affordable healthcare to pay for babies, maternity leave to care for babies, or adequate childcare so they can return to work. Male legislators will not address violence to women--it's estimated that 1.3 million women are physically assaulted by their partners each year. The gender pay gap is holding steady. What women wear is policed in schools and elsewhere daily. We live in a male dominated society and men fight back against women's rights. Still.




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