Back in the 1970's and 1980's Virginia Slims had an ad campaign pointing out how far woman had come in their fight for equal rights. This is an ad from 1980:
We've come even farther since then. Recently I've read a couple of books which were written in the 1970's; Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey and a couple of early books by Clive Cussler. I find it rather interesting to read them now as they do reflect the times we lived in back when they were written.
Take Dragonsong, the story is about Menolly, a musical genius, who wants to be harper, but is told by everyone that she can't. "Girls can't be harpers." "Don't get above yourself doing a man's work." "We're embarrassed and ashamed that we had to let a girl take over the teaching duties." And other absolute nonsense that only a troglodyte would believe. What makes this interesting to me is that at the time it was written, there were a lot of people who were like Menolly's parents. Who firmly believed that women were stupid and couldn't be doctors or lawyers or engineers. If you want to get a glimpse of what those days were like from a female's point of view, then this book shows it.
From the male point of view, we have Clive Cussler. Now I have to say that his Dirk Pitt character of recent vintage and his other male characters have seen the light and don't treat women like simpleton's. But in his earliest novels of Dirk Pitt, Dirk drinks like a fish, smokes like a chimney, and is such a male chauvinist pig that I want to reach into the book and slap some sense into him. In one scene, Dirk actually patted the Admiral's secretary on the butt and told her to be a good girl. Can you say sexual harassment lawsuit? ... But I wouldn't ask Clive Cussler to revise the story and make it more politically correct, because it shows the prevalent male attitude towards women at the point in time.
Back in January of this year, they released a cleaned up version of "The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain. They removed the "n-word" (<--- see we can't even say the word to talk about it. It's become so taboo.) At the time that this happened, there was some outrage and discussion but I didn't say anything.
But now having reread these other books, I think it is wrong to change a book just to make it more palatable to a politically correct audience. Because they show not tell the reader what it was like at the time the book was written. And that I think is valuable.