I've been meaning to write this diary for a long time, and finally was inspired by an article at the Washington Post I read today. More on that later.
Some of the feminists among us remember how far we've come since the 1950's, the battles won and lost, and the long climb to equality that continues and is actually threatened by the current flavor of the GOP. A party of old, white men who are clinging to their guns and religion (heh).
Some of you might be too young to remember ads like this in magazines and newspapers:
(hHre's a hint, husband, there was a lot more in those pills than vitamins.)
But still it makes you wonder why Republicans long for the 1950's culture of stay at home moms, when many were drug addicts and alcoholics (like my own mother).
Women in advertising were objects of ridicule:
So, yes, we've come a long way, and while many of us thought the fights over things like contraception and sex education and freedom of choice were over, we've come to realize that as long as the GOP exists, our rights will be threatened.
So now we come to the article I mentioned above, where our young women have changed the narrative:
The image of the feminist as a mirthless, hirsute, sex-averse succubus is a friendly-fire casualty of the Republican “war on women.” It’s a grave loss to conservatives, who have used this faithful foot soldier as a comfortably grotesque stand-in for the real people whose liberties they have sought to conscribe: women.I will only quote a few short paragraphs, but really, the whole article is well worth reading.
In a famous 1992 fundraising letter, television evangelist Pat Robertson described feminism as a movement that “encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians,” while conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh has stated that “feminism was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream.”
How the ‘war on women’ quashed feminist stereotypes
But the recent Republican incursions against women’s rights have been extreme enough to make women finally see beyond the wraith, to recognize that this battle is in fact about them. As presidential candidates sparred over birth control and state legislatures enacted punishing restrictions on reproductive rights and opposed equal-pay protections, newly vocal feminists resisted publicly. By doing so, they transformed the stereotype, putting youth, sex and humor on the side of the long-denigrated women’s movement. Conservatives such as Limbaugh, Foster Friess and Rick Santorum, dealing in sexual censoriousness and musty utterances, suddenly looked like the sexless relics of a bygone era, while the women shouting back at them presented a new, cool model of feminism — young, funny, socially nimble and appealing enough to tempt young men from the Citadel.Bravo!
So thanks to women like Sandra Fluke, and Tina Fey and Rachel Maddow, and men like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, we're moving into a new age of feminism, one of youth, humor and social media smarts that has brought the fight to a whole new level.
The hairy harridan of yore isn’t totally vanquished. She’s too useful for the right. Without her, it becomes clear that Republicans are fighting not some made-up monster but women themselves. Contemporary activists who have recently replaced the yellowing cartoon of feminism with a living, breathing, nuanced version of what women’s liberation means in 2012 must keep fighting with humor and zeal if they ever want to finish off the old bat.Bonus read: A link in the article reminds us that the carping about feminists as dried up, humorless old bitches isn't always limited to the right:
Perhaps someday they’ll even avenge her by hoisting a banner of their foes as fogeyish, woman-hating, humorless prudes and carrying it into future battles.
We really have come a long way.