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Archive for February 11th, 2009

The Good Old Days

There’s a lot I could say about this idiotic and depressing piece in the Daily Misogynist Mail by a woman who blames feminism for the fact that she’s miserable.

A lovely lady fulfilling her feminine duties. I'm so jealous! Damn you, feminism!

A lovely lady fulfilling her feminine duties. I'm so jealous! Damn you, feminism!

But Megan in Jezebel takes it down so well that I will just urge you to read what she says. Here’s a taste:

I wanted to be mad at Zoe Lewis for this piece as it feeds into the false pretense that giving women choices in and control over their lives just makes them unhappy, with the lovely subtext that women shouldn’t have those choices, you know, for their own sakes. But, frankly, it was hard to read it all the way through because she sounds desperately unhappy, and desperately insecure and desperate to find someone or something else to blame for all of that besides herself — so she chose feminism and her mother. The terrible thing about choices, though, is sometimes you make bad ones, and you have to live with them. The great thing about choices is that you can then continue to make them, until you find the ones that make you happy.

To which this happily married feminist (who was raised by a happily married feminist mother who produced four relatively well-adjusted and happy feminist daughters, some of whom are single, some of whom aren’t) can only say “hear, hear!” Feminism doesn’t mean you have to abandon family or domestic life. It means you DON’T have to feel like a failure and a burden on your family if you’re not married and producing babies by the time you’re 25. It means you don’t have to leave your job when you got married or had children, as some of our mothers had to. It means you’re not a freak if you actually care about pursuing a career or a creative dream. It means you have other options in your life apart from marriage. It means freedom. If you want to be reminded of the advantages of having choices that don’t involve being a fulltime domestic goddess, take a little look at the perfect life of Betty Draper in the awesome Mad Men. And it’s not feminism’s fault that Zoe Lewis hasn’t “fulfilled [her] womanly duties” – because remember ladies, if by some chance you’re not baking bread in suburbia surrounded by babies by the time you’re 30, you are a bad woman. In fact, you’re barely a woman at all. If this hasn’t really sunk in yet, don’t worry – the Daily Mail will be reminding you about it every week until the end of time.

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This is a spoiler-free post: Mad Men, the drama series about ad men on Madison Avenue in the early sixties, is probably the most written-about show on the planet right now. So here’s just what you need – another post on the subject. The second season has just kicked off on BBC4 but I finished watching the series this weekend – yet another Saturday night leaves not even a ripple on the surface of my social life.mad-men
Anyway, I found this season so different from the first and so much more enjoyable. A friend of mine says she can’t watch Mad Men because it’s sexist, but I don’t know what to think about that. The early sixties were certainly sexist, but does this make Mad Men sexist? Surely Jane Austen is sexist then too? And how can I like it so much if it’s sexist? I think it’s just a period drama set in a time when women were in the workplace, but certainly not respected there.

There is an episode in this series that made me cry unexpectedly. Nothing particularly sad happened, it was just an accumulation of situations, thoughts and experiences of the women that made me a little despairing. Or maybe it was the fact that I related so much to one woman’s situation in the sixties that made me feel a bit desperate.

The writing behind this show is fantastic – it’s written by Sopranos writer Matthew Weiner – and the insight into the interior lives of characters like Betty (Alpha Male Don Draper’s trophy wife) and Joan (who breaks my heart) is particularly touching. Anyway, I just wanted to send out this love letter and tell anyone who isn’t watching it to switch it on. You won’t be disappointed. You might be depressed. But not disappointed.

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