I was in a junior in high school when Betty Freidan’s book, The Feminine Mystique, was first published. Little did I know that I was living the struggle for emancipation from that mystique. When I went to college, I took a stand for my creativity and became a full time musician, struck out on my own with my all-female band, Ira Gobu, and ultimately landed a record deal with RCA as a singer songwriter. It never occurred to me to go to college only to snag a husband, although I knew girls at school who were doing just that.
But, shockingly, according to Freidan, Freud, who, in the 60’s was still the “gold standard” in psychology, believed women to be inferior to men!!!!
Let me say that again–Freud believed women were inferior to men.
As young women were graduating from college in the 60’s and 70’s, they were seeking the same great opportunities that had once been open only to men, and wanted to be taken seriously in their chosen fields. These pioneers were fighting against a thinly disguised prejudice. Many women had to take jobs that were far beneath their talent and education, just to get a foot in the door. I guess Freud didn’t see what was coming! Trail blazers like Nancy Pelosi have been leading the charge for equal rights and equal respect for women. I’m absolutely gobsmacked at the talent and bravery showing up in our newly elected congresswomen. Bring on the new guard!
The resentment of their male colleagues was palpable. Some women felt the need to “bulk up” to be taken more seriously, to add “heft” to their stature in order to go toe to toe with the men at the office–Or the men at the firehouse, or the police station, or on the building crew. Women’s fashion reflected the dichotomy of feminine vs. feminist–should we dress in a sexy, coquettish way? Or, in business suits that gave an impression of a more feminist agenda. Because I was in an all female band during the 70’s I, and my bandmates, struggled with our image–we vacillated between wearing overalls and cleavage revealing gowns.
Women may still use their sex appeal to further their careers, exacerbating this inner struggle between the feminine side and the feminist side of all of us women. If I use my sex appeal to get ahead, I may feel a little guilty. If I don’t, I may not get ahead! There is a wide spectrum of behaviors across American culture, some more progressive than others. We get to decide! Our Bodies, Our Selves!
Cheers to the new guard! Let the old guard fade away. Even though Joe Biden is reputedly a “nice guy” and he claims he didn’t touch women in a sexual manner, his forehead kisses and nose-nuzzling are still way creepy! It’s not as abusive as grabbing tits and pussys (whatever that is) it’s not OK! Norms are changing. Women can still be sexy and respectable. We are not fair game for pervy behavior. Feminism is not a dirty word.