April 19, 2013

"It’s hard to grasp now just how intoxicating it was as a young girl to hear Gloria Steinem tell us we could be anything we wanted to be."

"Or to read, during freshman year at my surprisingly progressive all-girls Catholic school, Betty Friedan’s 'The Feminine Mystique,' eight years after it was published, saying we could find meaning outside the home."
All this seemed possible because the pill had just become widely available, and for the first time women had control over whether and when they had a child. (I will never forget finding that oddly shaped, Pez-like dispenser in my mother’s bedroom right after the birth of my youngest sister; my mother called her “That’s It” for weeks before giving her a name.)
From a long WaPo article by Elsa Walsh titled "Why women should embrace a ‘good enough’ life." The quoted part describes the author's mindset, which later changed. I chose to quote that because: 1. Her mother sounds so cold, calling an infant "That's It." (A child called "It"!) and 2. The author makes her college age self sound like a nitwit. She says she was 15 when Roe v. Wade came out, so I figure she was born in 1958. I was born in 1951, and I always thought the Gloria Steinem presentation of women's liberation was a women's magazine pep talk. Friedan's book begins as a rant about the bullshit in women's magazines. If you had a brain at the time, you didn't take this stuff at face value. I don't accept Walsh's assertion that oh, if you were only there back then in the 1970s, you'd have been thoroughly intoxicated.

There were other feminist writers back then, and there were plenty of readers interested in feminism who didn't like Steinem and who didn't bother going all the way back to Freidan. When I went to college (circa 1970), the new books young women get excited about where "Sexual Politics" and "The Female Eunuch," and the older book we went back to was "The Second Sex." These books had some critical edge and were not simply cheerleading women about having a conventional middle-class life modernized with the addition of a great career and planned, delayed reproduction.

Walsh is working off a false premise about what life was like back then. She has a book to promote, and I can understand the urge to write a book that acts like it's discovered something new. But, really, the problem with the idea that you can't really "have it all" has been well-known all along.

28 comments:

lemondog said...

...just how intoxicating it was as a young girl to hear Gloria Steinem...

Oh, burp.......

MisterBuddwing said...

Shouting Thomas should begin shouting any moment now,,,

pm317 said...

Yeah, not so intoxicating now that Steinem told us to vote for Obama after concluding that a woman (add black if you want) with his resume would be laughed out of the race in 2008. So much for feminism and her ilk.

BTW, I had not heard of these women growing up in India. It was my dad and my mom right behind him who told me that I could be anything I wanted to be.

Mitchell the Bat said...

I can remember when the divide was between Beatles fans and Monkees fans.

Æthelflæd said...

http://mashable.com/2013/04/18/dove-experiment-parody/

"I have a balanced face, almost like a white Denzel Washington."

edutcher said...

My sister came back from Merrimack College ('70) (also progressive all-girls Catholic) full of that nonsense, so she's blowing a lot of smoke.

As for the rest, that she's talking about "good enough" means the feminazis know they've lost and are trying to put the best face they can on it.

When ObamaTax is repealed (by the Demos) and the administration collapses (there are already comparisons of Choom to Nixon, but with Barry being nastier), you'll hear lots more.

chickelit said...

But, really, the problem with the idea that you can't really "have it all" has been well-known all along.

The new mantra in times of austerity is "halving it all"

Christy said...

I was born in '52 and my mother always told me I could be anything I wanted to be if I worked at it hard. Having internalized Mom's advice, I always felt disconnected from feminists who told me I could be anything I wanted to be just because. And then when I only saw feminists working hard at politics I disdained the movement. But that was probably just my distorted experience.

Michael K said...

I was married at the time. WE had a young couple our age as friends and socialized with them quite a bit. Interestingly enough, the husband and I were driving through Hollywood one evening on our way back from a trip to the store when a van pulled along side of pur car and a drunken girl leaned out and yelled at us and called us "faggots." That was a unique experience in my life.

A year or two later, the wife read "Feminine Mystique" and divorced her husband. She was rather homely and never married again. She went to law school and is still a friend of my ex=wife.

The husband was a nice guy and married again.

campy said...

It was also intoxicating to hear that all heterosexual sex was rape and that all men were rapists.

jr565 said...

Its always intoxicating for young college kids to think they are against the system and oppressors. They are the outlaw and also so special. That's why they have all the various fill in the blank studies courses in college.
You too can fight the power and find out who the oppressor is. (Hint its almost always the white guy).

Feminism appeals to young women because young women haven't yet gone in to the real world and don't know that what these charlatans are preaching is a completely distorted view of the world.

Æthelflæd said...

jr565 said...

"Feminism appeals to young women because young women haven't yet gone in to the real world and don't know that what these charlatans are preaching is a completely distorted view of the world."

There is a great deal of truth here. Most of us give it up after college.

Larry J said...

Strange how I've never heard of men being told that we could have it all. Perhaps that's because we know it isn't true. Life is all about making decisions, compromises and tradeoffs. No one gets to grow up to be a brain surgeon, astronaut, cowboy and rock star at the same time.

ricpic said...

There wasn't family planning before the pill? That would be news to millions of women.

Methadras said...

Steinem like the rest of her ilk was and is a lunatic. Her edifications were no different than any other cult. In this case feminism wrapped in leftism.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Western beta males, and all Western women, should count their blessings every day.

If you don't realize why, you are probably ignorant of most of human history.

kimsch said...

I don't think the mother was calling the little sister "it" per se, she was saying "That's it", meaning, "I'm done." or "Last child."

creeley23 said...

No one gets to grow up to be a brain surgeon, astronaut, cowboy and rock star at the same time.

Buckaroo Banzai would beg to differ.

Though that may be your point...

Sam L. said...

O, come on! "That's It" is pretty obviously "no more children for me".

And college-age selves are pretty much nitwits to our later selves.

Martha said...

Elsa Walsh married the boss--Bob Woodward.

That's how she got to have it all.
Forget about feminism.

Ann Althouse said...

"I don't think the mother was calling the little sister "it" per se, she was saying "That's it", meaning, "I'm done." or "Last child.""

She withheld a name and called the baby "That's It."

Can you imagine doing that with a baby.

Not as bad as chaining the baby in the cellar, admittedly, but not cute.

Crunchy Frog said...

The author makes her college age self sound like a nitwit.

All college aged selves are nitwits.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

She withheld a name and called the baby "That's It."

Can you imagine doing that with a baby.


I didn't name my daughter for about 5 days after her birth. We had several names picked out, but I wanted to get to know her a bit before choosing one. We actually settled on a name that we had never even thought of before.

Babies don't know what their name is for the first week or so. All they care about is food, sleep, comfort.

Wayworn Wanderer said...

I read Betty's book in college in the early 70s, but it didn't intoxicate me. I'm a guy; I mostly thought it was pointless. Quit yer bitching.

Wayworn Wanderer said...

Gloria said it; I believe it; that settles it.

Fred Drinkwater said...

creeley23: Nope. Even Buckaroo had to have his Hong Kong Cavaliers. ON his own, he was merely a brain surgeon, rocket scientist, martial artist, rock star, and world-saver. The poor schlub had to HIRE a cowboy, remember? *AND* he never even made it out of the atmosphere in that borrowed spaceship.

Craig Howard said...

Her mother sounds so cold, calling an infant "That's It."

Oh, for Petes's sake, that's the only funny part of the entire article. My Mom had an "oopsy" when she was 42 [my youngest brother, 12 years younger than my 6th grade self. He's 49 now. I still call him "Oopsy" when I'm annoyed with him.

And, yes, Mom did take the necessary measures to make sure that that was it.

eyesopen said...

I'm the same age as Walsh (she was born in 1957) and it was thrilling. I wasn't then, nor am I now a nitwit. I was of course more idealistic.

My feeling is, sure, she can afford to promote a dialed-down form of feminism, she's a good-looking, educated, privileged, white woman married to a wealthy, influential man. She'll have a great life no matter what happens. Women without those advantages still need feminism. So do men.

Simone de Beauvoir was not a feminist.