Aug 30 2012

Fifty shades of Gunsmoke

A propos of any befuddlement concerning the current popularity of corny BDSM novels:

Last night while waiting for my orecchiette to cook, I flipped on the TV. It was a 60’s-era episode of “Gunsmoke,” the longest-running primetime TV series in American history. Here is the scene I saw:

A Marlboro Man and a hot but sass-talkin’ pioneer woman with a suspiciously modern hairdo are arguing in a rustic cabin. The Marlboro Man is “proposin'” to her, but it turns out he doesn’t even know her name. She is pissed about this, calls him a “wax figure.” She tries to leave. He grabs her by the shoulders and starts lecturing her, shaking her every so often as punctuation. When she mouths off, he hits her in the face.

The Marlboro Man looks confused and apologizes for hitting her. He ain’t never hit no woman before. Suddenly demure and submissive, she smiles up at him gratefully, and admits she reckons she had it comin’.

I turned it off then, but it looked a dead cert. that these two were gonna hook up by the time they rolled credits. This would preserve the natural oder, because the M.M. was actually a really nice guy who was driven to violence by his passion for the sassy pioneer woman whose name he doesn’t know. It was a love-assault!

This was considered family entertainment.

In a brief, shining moment for American television, “Gunsmoke” was canceled in 1975 and replaced by the only remotely feminist program ever to air on an American network: “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

Anyway, domination and submission are ingrained in the whole American psychosex narrative not least because crap like “Gunsmoke” was always on during dinner when we were kids. We learned to normalize violence against women over Mom’s meatloaf.

This might be an old show reflecting decades-old mores, but it’s still playing in 2012 in primetime.

CORRECTION: “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” first aired in 1970 — not 1975 — and ran until 1977. Replacing “Gunsmoke” in 1975 were MTM spinoffs “Rhoda” and “Pyllis.” Thanks to alert reader Jay for the fact-checking.

CORRECTION: That’s “Phyllis,” not “Pyllis.” Egads.


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  1. ew_nc

    I watch a lot of vintage TV because I don’t have cable and modern shows pretty much suck. These vintage shows suck too, but there’s the nostalgia factor.

    Yesterday, on the Brady Bunch, Marcia took a stand for “Women’s Lib” by joining Greg’s Boy Scout-like organization. The story was painfully predictable. Marcia was able to keep up with the boys, but in the end decided she liked dating boys and reading fashion magazines so much more. There was a line where wise ol’ Dad says to her, “Marcia, enough of the Women’s Lib!”

    This episode first aired when I was probably about 10 years old. We thought then that it was such a cool show that struck a blow for girls. The sad part is that modern TV uses the same themes 40 years later, and women are still supposed to believe that these shows are blows for women’s rights. Yikes.

  2. K

    Wait, isn’t Parks & Recreation remotely feminist?

  3. yttik

    “We learned to normalize violence against women over Mom’s meatloaf.”

    Women are writing these books, buying them, not because it’s something we’ve learned on television, but in an attempt to cope with our status as second class citizens and to attempt to exercise some control over it. Women don’t “learn” to normalize violence, we are forced to try and survive it psychologically and emotionally. Our brains can only tolerate so much abuse before we start to compartmentalize what’s happening and try to rationalize it.

    Domination and submission are not ingrained in the whole American psychosex narrative equally. That pioneer woman exists in real life, but the MM is a total fantasy. We all know it’s more likely that he would simply abuse her for the sake of abusing her, leave her pregnant and ride off into the sunset, so instead we create an imaginary character who cares for her in exchange for her submission. The thing is, in real life your submission or non submission is irrelevant and there is no give and take. Strong powerful women are abused all the time.

  4. Twisty

    Wait, isn’t Parks & Recreation remotely feminist?

    In the sense that it’s about a woman, I guess so. But alongside the empowerful! running-for-city-council plot line is the – yawn – story arc of the romance with her co-worker/campaign manager dude. Which dude, I might add, is the rational, capable, dependable foil to Leslie Knope’s hetero ditz. This dynamic is common in modern TV about empowerful ‘feminists’. The female protagonist – however capable professionally – is essentially a hetero mess who can’t manage her personal life, and she is wrangled — comically! — by a dude. See Liz Lemon, Chief Johnson, Buffy.

    Mary Richards, on the other hand, is not a hook-up-centric character. She’s ridin’ the 2nd wave, baby!

  5. Twisty

    Women don’t “learn” to normalize violence, we are forced to try and survive it psychologically and emotionally.

    I think we’re arguing the same side. By “we” I mean American consumers of television. And everyone (including women) does too learn, and at a young age, that it’s okay to abuse women. We’re all taught from the git-go that abuse, dominance, and violence against women is OK because it’s consistent with the essence of what a woman is. Women who write and enjoy corny BDSM novels have internalized a pornographic submissive sexuality which is the logical extrapolation of the aforementioned scene (and thousands like it) in the milquetoast “Gunsmoke” show. We are taught that women like abuse. If this weren’t true, BDSM wouldn’t exist as a romantic fantasy with a female audience.

  6. Redpeachmoon

    I started watching the CBS soaps 28 years ago when my son was born. Then as now, the male ‘grab’ is a common episode occurrence. In ALL film and television . Man argues with woman, she retorts and turns or storms away, man grabs her arm and holds her while finishing the argument. sometimes her lines call for ” your hurting me”. Ofttimes, no need. Nothing unusual here!
    I hate the patriarchy.

  7. Spyke

    Maude was kinda feminist. I remember her dealing with discrimination and also GASP! She had an abortion and her daughter (who was in Creature from the Black Lagoon) told her it was ok. That would never happen today.

  8. quixote

    About that learning thing, I grew up (and then stayed up pretty much) without television. I’ve never watched a lot of movies either. (Do Chicken Run and Revenge of the Wererabbit count?) When I read Twisty’s Gunsmoke scene summary, my immediate reaction was, “That’s sick.”

    In real life, women get abused all the time, but that somehow doesn’t have the power to say it’s okay. Only stories can do that.

    So, yeah, I think you have to allow for a long and steady drip-drip-drip of learning.

    Although there’s nothing mutually exclusive about learning that crap and wanting to learn to make more benign sense of pointless crap. IBTP in both cases.

  9. Stella

    Yeah, what about Maude?

    And The Golden Girls?

  10. sjaustin

    Which part of The Golden Girls is feminist? The parts where Blanche desperately tries to validate her worth as a human being by garnering sexual attention from men, or the parts where the other “girls” constantly shame her for it? Where the “girls” fight over the men they’re dating, or maybe the parts where they try to do simple home repairs and then fail because LOL everyone knows you need a man for that kind of thing?

  11. giandujakiss

    “and replaced by the only remotely feminist program ever to air on an American network: “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

    Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

    Just sayin’.

  12. Carpenter

    I remember reading “The Road to Wellville” where the main dude guy wins back his sassy wife by violently assaulting a hippy and making her scared of him thus restoring the natural order of things. Then it tried to cover up its anti-feminism by making his sassy wife a hardcore suffragette. I cant even read about evil cornflake manufacturers in peace. Fifty-shades-of-tired-old-narrative.

  13. Carpenter

    Oh yeah, and as for old TV and female submission, hows about all of Bewitched? It had everything, hating on a mother-in-law, suppressing your inner self to please your husband, having to make dinner for your husbands dumb-shit boss. Don’t get me started about I Dream of Genie, the midriff-lady called the dude “master”.

  14. Pinko Punko

    I’ve only seen maybe 5-6 episodes of Gunsmoke and they were all super dark- the rule seemed to be that suffering was maximized, and crimes against the innocent. Probably lots of rape. And to think that there were hundreds of radio episodes before that. Dark dark dark dark dark.

  15. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    My favorite unfeminist vintage TV show is “Soap”. Sadly, no re-runs of it air, ever.

  16. Comradde PhysioProffe

    Sort of off-topic, but I just read a really good book in which none of the major characters are adult dudes. It is about a young woman whose sister has to go into a psychiatric hospital. So she takes the sister’s kids–a fourteen year-old boy and eleven year-old girl–on a road trip to find their disappeared father (who only appears in the last few pages of the book). There is tremendous character development of the young woman and the two children, and it is really cool. (Yeah, there is a smattering of hetero “romance” here and there, but it is intentionally portrayed as much less vivid than the internal worlds of the three main characters.)

    It’s called “The Flying Troutmans”, and it’s by Miriam Toews.

  17. yttik

    We are totally arguing on the same side, Twisty, I’m just saying that this BDSM stuff is much more complex than learned behavior. It is literally a survival skill, an attempt by our brains to make sense of something so unreasonable. As you know, women are abused everyday in a numerous ways, with or without TV. There isn’t much escape possible. so your brain or your psyche or whatever, has to find some way to cope. Pain becomes pleasure, you bond with your perpetrators, whatever it takes to convince yourself that you have some control.

  18. Cade

    This thread reminds me of a story from when I was younger, which I had forgotten. Mom reminded me the other day. I was about 7 or 8 (late sixties). Mom and I were doing dishes, sweeping the floor, cleaning up after dinner. My pop and brother were watching TV. While doing all this post-dinner work, I turned to her and said, “let’s join Women’s Lib”. Sad but funny.

  19. Comradde PhysioProffe

    Holy Fuckeoly!!! I can’t believe I missed the new motherfucken IBTP banner!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. KittyWrangler

    Ah, the classic “slap some love into that bitch.”

    When asked what TV shows his young son wasn’t allowed to watch, Dan Savage answered only one thing was so vile and harmful to kids that he disallowed it in his home: Disney TV. He said their depictions of heterosexuality were completely sick and twisted, listing examples of forced incest (kissing) portrayed as comedy and encouraging boys to hate girls from, I think, the Jonas Brothers’ show or similar. Fuckin’ finally! I’ve wondered what the utter hell is wrong with “family friendly entertainment” since at least age three. Was there ever a scummier orgy of promoting violence and abuse than “fun for the whole family?”

    @Redpeachmoon “Man argues with woman, she retorts and turns or storms away, man grabs her arm and holds her while finishing the argument.” My dad used to do that to me when I was a teenager. If I was only irritated or angry before it happened, I would be left seething with white-hot rage and hatred for days (months, years) afterward. I remember seeing those scenes on TV and get so angry with the writers, I’d just start seething again.

  21. Saurs

    Wot about Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman? Granted, it wasn’t very optimistic about feminism’s chance of success, but it did give one a taste of the kind of ignorance, fear, complacency, and hostility the American second wave was up against.

    (Looking sharp in that banner, by the by. How come you can mix patterns, Twisty, and end up looking cool, whereas I do it and end up looking like a fucking hipster?)

  22. Margaret

    And Mary Hartman Mary Hartman seemed feminist, at least to me in the 1970’s. Loved that show, and Hazel, and though that one might not have been feminist, it was funny.

    Then there was a show, Father Knows Best, where the mother and daughter get terribly tired of picking up after the father and son. The moral of the story was that those women should be glad they have someone to pick up after.

  23. Passerine

    The worst is Desi spanking Lucy. It’s impossible to watch that treasured classic without screaming, “Turn around and deck the motherf@cker!” at the TV, so I won’t ever try it again.
    What wasn’t feminist about Roseanne? I don’t remember feeling too stabby over that one.

  24. sjaustin

    What wasn’t feminist about Roseanne? How did you miss the fact that her entire life revolved around her husband and children? Where are you people coming from?

  25. Twisty

    Well, I guess Roseanne wasn’t too antifeminist, but in terms of groundbreakingness, that show is pretty standardly sitcommy with the doofus husband and annoying sister/mother; she’s like Alice in “The Honeymooners,” only with a pottymouth. On the other hand, it was kind of refreshing that the show wasn’t just a bunch of fat jokes or whatever.

    To belabor my MTM point, Mary Richards was an unattached female, not tied to a nuclear family, no steady boyfriend, no 6″ porn stilettos, interacting as an equal with men on a professional level, in the 70’s. The show was never “Oh, will Mary ever get a man?” Pretty wild stuff for back then, yet 35 years later I can’t think of a 2012 analog.

    I agree 100% about Lucy. I wrote a post about it early in my internet feminist career.

  26. Carpenter

    Eh, I’m inclined to cut Tina Fey some slack. She says that Liz Lemmon is supposed to be the female version of the lovable, kind of slobby, antisocial semi-loser – a role usually reserved for male characters. These kind of dudes are all over TV and movies, in tons of dude rom-coms they end up getting girl at the end a la 40 year old Virgin, in sitcoms they are guys like Tim Allen in Home Improvement or Drew Carey. Lemmon is supposed to be an antidote for the ditz, or the shrill-voice-of-reason (like the wife in Everybody Loves Raymond and every other sitcom in the universe). So I at least respect that Fey is trying to branch out. Part of the problem is that female characters that deviate from sex bomb or harpy that when one pops up outside of those boxes they have to speak for all female characters If there were more of a variety of female charters it would be OK to have some lovable losers or perfect Mary Sues or complicated drug using nurses.

    Anyway my pick for moderately feminist TV lady from 20 years ago is Murphy Brown. Remember when that show cut in actual clips of Dan Quayle?

  27. DarraghMurphy

    Shulamith Firestone was found dead in her NYC apartment today. Was dead at least a week.


    “Shulamith Firestone, a pioneering feminist who shot to fame at age 25 with her best-selling book, “The Dialectic of Sex,” was found dead in her East Village apartment on Tuesday. She was 67.

    Alerted by neighbors, who had smelled a strong odor from her apartment, her superintendent peered in through a window from the fire escape and saw her body on the floor. Her landlord, Bob Perl, said she had probably been dead about a week. He said her one-bedroom unit included rows of books, including Greek classics.”

  28. Gravy

    Dedicated reader, rare poster here – just want to lob Laverne & Shirley into the mix to see what comes out, as I recently revisited season one and part of two and realized it often passes the Bechdel test.

  29. Friend of Snakes

    Thanks for the book tip, Comradde. Further on the psychiatric hospital theme, I was reading information about the recent death and life of Shulamith Firestone who had apparently descended into quite a bad mental place. I didn’t know until now that she had written anything other than The Dialectic of Sex. But according to the NY Times:

    Her only other book, “Airless Spaces,” was issued in 1998 by the experimental publisher Semiotext(e). A memoir-in-stories that employs fictional forms to recount real-life events, it describes Ms. Firestone’s hospitalization with schizophrenia, which by the 1980s had overtaken her.


    I see my local public library has three copies. Can one be said to be looking forward to reading this type of thing?

  30. Friend of Snakes

    Something, something. How did you miss the fact that something, something? Where are you people coming from?

    Chicago. Howdy.

  31. ivyleaves

    A candidate for feminist TV show: All That Glitters. It was a flash in the late night pan, but was pretty interesting. For popularity and influence, nothing can beat MTM, but the Rhoda character kept the focus on romance alive in that show.

  32. L

    Well Mary did have Lou Grant as a daddy figure, right? But yeah, the show was pretty great from what I can remember from reruns. However, I always related more to Rhoda’s brand of Jewish neurosis and self-loathing than to Mary’s lovely WASPishness.

    I would never call any piece of mainstream entertainment feminist, even if there is some women-positive content within. Feminism is a bug, not a feature, in a patriarchal world.

  33. Ugsome

    Not just American. I just watched “Cloclo”, a biopic about corny French singer Claude Francois, who, if said biopic is to be believed, was a charter member of the harass-your-way-to-her-heart school of romance–a Mediterranean speciality.

  34. Betsy

    Off topic: Shulamith Firestone has died.

  35. eb

    “What wasn’t feminist about Roseanne? How did you miss the fact that her entire life revolved around her husband and children? Where are you people coming from?”

    From the point of view that Roseanne was much more nuanced and layered than your typical sitcom about a woman with a husband and kids.

    I’d also argue her husband was not the usual doofus dude, plus John Goodman is a fantastic actor. You didn’t ever see scenes like this by any other sitcom husband/dad:


    Yes, she had a neurotic sister, but that character was still much different than the typical sassy chick next door in most sitcoms. Plus, none of the kids were the barf inducing, precocious child with the quick wit one liners. They fought like kids fight, they were assholes like kids are assholes and they weren’t angelic creatures sent from the heavens of the Christian god to grace their parents with their ‘sanctity’ of life.

    Roseanne tackled a lot of issues on her show with depth, humor and honesty not found in any sitcom before or since with the possible exception of All in the Family. Just because those issues were all framed within the context of a nuclear family does not negate the fact that Roseanne was a feminist show.

  36. ew_nc

    What I found interesting about the Roseanne show was seeing how what was going on in her personal life was reflected in the story lines of the show.

    Her years with Tom Arnold see her being much more sex-focused and ditzy. Then when they broke up, she became much more militant, as did the show. When she hooked up with the limo driver and got pregnant RT, you could see her focus more on being the “right” kind of mother. Which was weird, because the real Roseanne hardly made mothering the center of her life.

    But no matter what, she always had feminist gems shine through the BS she had to do for the ratings. My favorite is when she’s telling a black man that she didn’t let him in her restaurant after they’d closed wasn’t because she’s prejudiced against his race, because she hates all men, equally. HA!

  37. yttik

    Roseanne has always been full of contradictions, in part probably because she has some mental health challenges which always put a damper on your efforts to change the world.

    But perhaps we shouldn’t be judging women as feminist or not, because all women are a product of their environment and circumstances. There have been almost no remotely feminist shows on TV, but there have been plenty of ground breaking women in the entertainment industry. Lucy may not have been a feminist show, but Lucy herself knocked down some huge walls for women in comedy.

  38. sjaustin

    She hates all men equally, except that she married one, had a bunch of his kids, and then wrote him back into her life after he died.

  39. sjaustin

    yttik, I thought we were judging TV shows and characters as feminist or not, not real life women. It’s entirely possible that if Roseanne Barr were able to create the show she really wanted to, it would be a lot more feminist than the show “Roseanne” was. But the fact is that the show “Roseanne” was not feminist.

  40. Comradde PhysioProffe

    Just heard about Firestone. It sounds like she was sadly stricken with schizophrenia. I have often wondered whether having the kind of brain that allows you to be so radically creative as Firestone–conceptualizing the role of gender and society in unprecedented fashion–also makes you more susceptible to severe mental illness.

  41. allhellsloose

    In the UK we are saturated with American TV.

    I’m being bold and posting a link: it’s an animation of how a portrait of a woman who has lived was made.


  42. pheeno

    Since when does having a good marriage and kids = not feminist?

    She had HIS kids? What? They had children together. He didn’t own them, why the hell would you even frame it like that? She didn’t, so why would you?

    What WAS feminist about it was showing lower income class mothers, their shit they deal with (and yeah, that includes husbands and kids sometimes) and how they live. How the economy and men making laws affect their real lives. How motherhood isn’t always a bowl of jello. How marriage can sometimes suck, even though you love the person. How sometimes you have to make concessions in the P so you can put food on the table, and how it’s shitty that people have to make those concessions. She explored topics like homosexuality and bisexuality in ways that were funny, but sympathetic to the shit they get handed too. She explored how women are abused in many ways, how the P trains women to be a certain way and the little ways they get punished for NOT being P compliant.
    And at the end, she explains WHY she wrote him back into the show and how she needed that to work on her own issues and then she LET IT GO.There’s nothing UNfeminist about missing someone you’ve loved for over 30 years.

    It took her years to be able to have the show she wanted. She spent a great deal of time fighting with the asshole producers and network and still had to deal with censors and all sorts of shit after she wrestled control of the show out of the male asshole hands. She was treated like dog shit, fought back and succeeded.

    Was it the most perfect feminist show ever? No. But it sure as shit wasn’t Unfeminist either. If perfection is required before something receives the feminist label, nothing ever will be.

  43. nails

    I can’t be the only person that remembers the roseanne where they parody old 50’s sitcoms? It had direct endorsements of feminism in it. I also recall pornography being criticized on roseanne. I remember jackie having her baby and resisting pressure to get married. I remember the network pushing the show back an hour because it had a scene where gay people kissed, and they had recurring gay characters (and a gay marriage, actually). I remember an idiot sexist boss causing all the women in a factory to band together and quit in protest.

    …but that doesn’t count because the show was about a fairly typical womans actual experience in her life instead of a bunch of lesbian separatists or spinsters? Please. I don’t think you have to show something idealist or exclude men to make a feminist show. What you need to do is to make a show that is about how women actually experience the world, where women get to be actual people instead of plot devices. Roseanne passes that test for me (until things got really shit towards the end, like when they won the lottery).

  44. sjaustin

    Since when does having a good marriage and kids = not feminist?

    Who said that? Having her entire life revolve around being a wife and mother is what’s not feminist, not just being married and having children.

    She had HIS kids? What? They had children together. He didn’t own them, why the hell would you even frame it like that? She didn’t, so why would you?

    HAHAHAHAHA! Because that’s how the patriarchy frames it! Geez, where am I right now?

  45. KittyWrangler

    Blamers may enjoy this: http://www.happyplace.com/17666/consumers-write-smart-ass-reviews-for-sexist-bic-pens

    Bic came out with a pen “for her.” The first link is to a few choice reviews by women. And here is the link to the actual Amazon listing for the pens from whence came the reviews. Witness the unending torrent of over fifty pages of contemptuous womanly snark. I know it cheered me up.


  46. sjaustin

    I can’t be the only person that remembers the roseanne where they parody old 50?s sitcoms? It had direct endorsements of feminism in it

    Yes, Roseanne had a few feminist moments. But the show as a whole was not feminist.

    I don’t think you have to show something idealist or exclude men to make a feminist show.

    I don’t either. Where is our contemporary Mary Richards? Why is it that these days every time a show has a woman character who appears to be doing just fine without a man or a baby for a season or two, that all eventually has to change? Is it really idealist to show a woman who’s doing just fine on her own?

  47. yttik

    “Having her entire life revolve around being a wife and mother is what’s not feminist”

    Why not? Is it more feminist to have your entire life revolve around getting paid to clean toilets? How about getting paid to BE a toilet?

    The Roseanne show did some pretty ground breaking work, but then again, so did Lucy as I said before. Women have to deal with the environment they’re dealt and do what they can with it.

  48. sjaustin

    Is it more feminist to have your entire life revolve around getting paid to clean toilets?

    Yes, that’s exactly what I wrote. Because clearly, those are the only choices. No woman on the planet has ever done anything else with her life.

  49. TwissB

    @Friend of Snakes – Thanks for the link to the NYTimes Firestone obit . Re the mention therein of the radical feminist groups started in contrast to mainstream feminist groups like the National Organization for Women (NOW), I recall that many activist members of a Texas NOW group in the 1970’s saw Firestone’s book as a major influence in their lives.

    @eb, ew_nc, nails – Thanks for speaking up for “Roseanne.” The earlier seasons of the show were often brilliant, despite management harassment, and the actors were a fine ensemble. An unmentioned aspect of the women’s work at the plastics factory was the stubborn way they dealt with having a young guy put in as their supervisor. George Clooney played him as a basically unpretentious and friendly person who, once the women had whipped him into shape, joined their side in standing up to the mean boss. It was the writing and the acting that made that scenario work as it did in other random instances with the way the parents dealt with tomboy daughter Darlene’s onset of menstruation and their indulging an irrestible urge to embarrass daughter Becky at the skating rink by going all hillbilly with her boyfriend. The blend of sensitive,and funny without sentimentality was unique for a family show. Compare with today’s hideous “Family Man” to see how sadly entertainment has declined.

  50. ew_nc

    sjaustin – I’m curious, did you just not like Roseanne Barr as a person, and is that reflective in your opinion of the show? And by the way, you saying it was not a feminist show is just that – your opinion. We all get to have them here.

  51. Jay

    FWIW, Twisty,

    The Mary Tyler Moore show first aired in 1970, and Hollywood Reporter claims:

    Instead, CBS axed Gilligan’s Island and moved Gunsmoke to Mondays, where the show regained its ratings form. But in 1975, still ranked among the top 30 shows, Gunsmoke was canceled and replaced by Rhoda and Phyllis, a pair of spinoffs from The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

    Hope the rest of your blaming is more accurate! Especially all the stuff about the Patriarchy!!!!11!

  52. Hattie

    Gunsmoke wowed the square guys in the day. It was escapism for the wage slave.
    Roseanne was the best program ever to show on TV.

  53. pheeno

    “Who said that? Having her entire life revolve around being a wife and mother is what’s not feminist, not just being married and having children. ”

    Well you’re in luck then because her entire life actually revolved around paying bills and trying to keep a good job in an economy with Reagan as President. That was kind of a running theme. How poor families have to spend the majority of their time busting their asses and it’s never enough. She didn’t revolve her entire life around being a wife and a mother. Did you even ever watch the show?? At least once an episode there was a joke about her kids playing on the roof or doing something that “proper” mothers would never allow, but what other choice did she have? She was AT WORK. There was an entire show dedicated to that, point of fucking fact.

    “HAHAHAHAHA! Because that’s how the patriarchy frames it! Geez, where am I right now?”

    But the SHOW DID NOT.

    Get that yet? The show did NOT frame kids as possessions of the father. Quite the opposite. It was noted time and again that if SHE was the one going through pregnancy and SHE was the one going through labor and SHE was the one who had to take time off of work to deal with them then SHE made the decisions regarding them and if the husband didn’t like that then HE could get off his ass and pull his weight parenting wise.

    My god, THAT little theme happened every time one of the kids did something stupid. Which was just about every other episode.

    He also had no goddamn say when she had a late pregnancy and had to consider an abortion. The show managed to balance that with the fact that while it’s HER decision, it’s not like she’s making it in a vaccuum so the burden just gets foisted onto her to deal with. And that? That’s not easy.

  54. stacey

    quoth Comradde PhysioProffe:
    I have often wondered whether having the kind of brain that allows you to be so radically creative as Firestone–conceptualizing the role of gender and society in unprecedented fashion–also makes you more susceptible to severe mental illness.

    I’ve been reading up on ADHD-brain, as my kiddo has been recently diagnosed, and am learning all the physical or chemical differences of brainage and development and health. So when I saw this phrase, I immediately thought that maybe because of their mental differences (rather than illness), radically creative people can identify the problems in society and then conceptualize solutions/revolutions.

    re. Roseanne and feminism: Right now, my life revolves around my family and kid. (Except I’m a pretty crappy wife.) That was the choice I made, as a feminist; and because I am a feminist, I believe I shouldn’t be penalized economically or socially for the unpaid childcare work that I do.

  55. Swanhilde

    What I appreciate about Roseanne is that it showed, without apology, class tension and some of trials and tribulations of being working class in America (or at least White working class in small-city whatever State the show took place in).

    When is the last time mainstream media promoted a sitcom about an overweight 40-ish coffee shop waitress? Who had a violent abusive father and a mother-in-denial? She worked in a plastic utensils factory and management oppressed the workers? Supersmart eldest daughter, headed for college and success, gets pregnant by and falls in love with a meathead. I could write on and on about how Roseanne captured the life of the working poor, but that should make my point.

    You don’t see poor people suffering on TV much anymore. The shows are so unrealistic–even the ones I see which feature cops and artists or lawyers depict them in fake surroundings which don’t look anything like real offices, and they are wearing beautiful, expensive clothing that doesn’t look like what they would wear in real life. Like CSI. Cops and labs don’t look like that.

    Something that galls me the most is when the roles are filled with impossibly young actors–and of course, female roles are the worst about this! Like, the “NYC District Attorney” or the “CDC Scientist” or “Executive Controller” is portrayed as a woman in her 20s or early-30s. Most people do not accomplish these positions until middle age.

  56. Maria

    I have to disagree with you Twisty, Parks and Recreation IS feminist. The Leslie Knope character alone is worth watching. She’s unapologetically feminist with photos of female politicians everywhere in her office, celebrates her female friends on ‘Galentines day’, created a goddess club to counter the boys-only outdoor troop (a young scout made a Gertrude Stein during arts and crafts), and too many other stuff to count. The show constantly shows women as strong and capable, Leslie as a theme is the most competent in the whole town. There was even an episode where several characters were enraptured by a women’s studies class while visiting a college. The last season has been a little heavy on the romantic stuff, but at the end of the day she’s still running for office and he’s her employee. In a previous season she had let a guy go rather than forfeit her career or friends. Also, Amy Poehler has some serious side projects to empower young girls, see: smart girls at the party, which shows girls having real interests.

    Fun fact: I remember there was a touching comment from Roseanne on Mary Daly’s memorial site and that Roseanne Barr considers herself a radical feminist.

  57. Carpenter

    I remember an episode of Rosanne where Rosanne and Jackie were in car having a conversation pulling some cult-crit on the classic rock that they loved and how it was dude-music. At least that show was trying. Anyway, I remember being impressed by Murphy Brown, I hope it makes the rounds on Nick at Night.

  58. Friend of Snakes

    I sometimes think that even with all our many-fractured identities and black & white points of view expressed in 30 second sound bites on a million different platforms (or maybe because of such) that women and their allies (if such really exist) should go back to focusing, to the exclusion of almost all else, on getting an Equal Rights Amendment passed. Forty years on, could it possibly hurt to try? And think of the many harmful facets of our lives that, in a land of laws, could be put right soon after its passage.

  59. Linda

    Gravy mentioned Laverne & Shirley. This was a show that presented an alternative household unit to the patriarchy-approved nuclear get-up that we saw so much of on tv back then. Either it was mum, dad and two or three kids, or an heroic single dad and the kids, usually. Dead mothers abounded; even The Brady Bunch had a dead mother lurking there in the narrative. But Laverne and Shirley, apart from being working class-based like Roseanne, as others have mentioned, actually presented us with a way of living that seemed so much more appealing to me as a kid, than the mum and dad partnership. It showed two working class women sharing a basement flat and getting along and supporting each other. I’d need to watch again through older, radical feminist eyes, before making any proclaimations about it being pro-feminist. I do have to wonder, given that it was a spin-off of a vehicle of sexism like Happy Days, if it was possibly created for feminist reasons. It seems to be everything Happy Days wasn’t and I’m sure the Squiggy character was meant to be a bit of a parody of Fonzie.

  60. TwissB

    @Friend of Snakes. For American women, given the fact that federal and state non-discrimination laws only work if they rest on a strong Constitutional foundation, the ERA is a sine qua non. But I hasten to direct you to paper #760 “How to Pass an Equal Rights Amendment Worth Passing” on my website http://www.equality4women.org. for a critical analysis of the proponents’ self-sabotaging “smart politics” strategy of excluding the most difficult and therefore the most important sex discrimination issues from the discussion of what the amendment would be expected to cover. And they are still doing it, still – as Cathy Hughes used to say – stuck on stupid. If ever genuine feminist discourse was needed it is on the subject of the ERA.

  61. Metal_teapot

    Not aired in America but I’m intrigued, how feminist is dinnerladies?

  62. Kate

    Maybe off topic, but a little bit related to how America may view women, (I don’t know, I am not American)
    In Madison Magazine (Australia, Sept 2012) its reported that Hillary and Bill Clinton go to a black tie dinner in Manhattan (when. I don’t know). Hillary is Secretary of State and the occasion is reported as the nonprofit International Crisis Group’s Awards ceremony.
    Bill Clinton is quoted as saying, (start of quote)
    “I know I’m just sort of a warm-up act”, he says, to laughter. He thanks the honorees and Hillary for their efforts to advance women’s rights. “Some day we hope to liberate every man on earth from their tendency as old as human history to identify our strength and manhood with the ability to control the lives, limit the chances, and doom the dreams of the women and girls” he says. Then, as if to emphasise that he’s not one of the bad guys, he abruptly returns to his seat” (end of quote).

    I don’t know whether to vomit, or he is such a narcissist he doesn’t realise what he just said by calling out his entire gender. hmm. Thanks for dooming my dreams, men. No smiley face!

  63. Jen

    I propose that Sesame Street is a feminist American TV show.

  64. Shelby

    Roseanne is one of the few shows that I’m happy that my kids watch in retro repeat now. It was/is fucken funny. Jeebuz V.I.P. has just come one. Time for bed.

  65. Doctress Ju'ulia

    Haven’t seen it in years, but what about Cagney and Lacey? Also, the Bionic Woman? Just throwing those into the mix.

  66. Twisty

    FWIW, Twisty,

    The Mary Tyler Moore show first aired in 1970, and Hollywood Reporter claims:

    “Instead, CBS axed Gilligan’s Island and moved Gunsmoke to Mondays, where the show regained its ratings form. But in 1975, still ranked among the top 30 shows, Gunsmoke was canceled and replaced by Rhoda and Phyllis, a pair of spinoffs from The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

    Hope the rest of your blaming is more accurate! Especially all the stuff about the Patriarchy!!!!11!

    Nice catch! I wish I could blame my assistant Phil for that error, but it was his day off, goddammit.

  67. rootlesscosmo

    Two articles by Shulamith Firestone are here:


  68. Ciccina

    Its a shame that some people don’t recognize just how radical Roseanne was.

    Roseanne is the only sitcom I can think of that consistently raised issue of social justice without “resolving” them — read: neutralizing them – at the end of the episode.

    Roseanne raised issues of multiple kinds of inequality, said they were not okay, and left it at that. No collapsing into the “poor but happy” Waltons type stereotype. No defaulting into the “gave-up-dreams but happily married” trope of a thousand other shows. Instead, people lose their jobs, lose their businesses, have kids to soon, fail to lose weight and have heart attacks – and it doesn’t all turn out okay. Injustice doesn’t have a way of working itself out. Injustice sucks.

    And this extends to the benighted final season, when the Connor family wins the lottery. When you watch the final episode, you learn its all a fantasy – a coping mechanism because Dan has died, the kids have left home, and Roseanne has arrived at a place that doesn’t have a lot of options for single working class women of a certain age. No last minute windfall, no knight in shining armor – it is what it is: scary, a bit lonely, but at the same time, freeing. Its a damn accurate snapshot of what a lot of women go through.

    Its downright shocking for American comedy television.

  69. MarianK

    What about the woman-falls-in-love-with-her-rapist storyline that used to be popular on the daytime soaps? The most vomitous of these was the Luke and Laura storyline on General Hospital, which broke all kinds of ratings records and had teenage girls screaming ‘Rape me, Luke! Rape me!’ when the actors did appearances in shopping malls.

  70. tinfoil hattie

    Know what else Roseanne had? Characters who were other than white people. . Friends, co-workers, people in the background. Coulda done a better job, maybe, but even that was revolutionary.

    Also: Cagney and Lacey, definitely very many feminist aspects. The tinfoil family had worked oyr way through 6.5 seasons when the show was inexplicably removed from Netflix insta-watch. Boo.

  71. janna

    This comment section has been very interesting. I love TV but can’t really say that even my favorite shows are particularly feminist.

  72. incognotter

    I enjoyed the first few episodes of Remington Steele, before they brought Pierce Brosnan in. I naively thought they were going to let Stephanie Zimbalist do her thing. *sigh*

    I also thought Murphy Brown was good, but I haven’t seen it lately since my Blaming kicked into high gear.

  73. Hane

    @Jen, Sesame Street is feminist in the same way that I am Queen Margaret of the planet Shaltoon.

    It first came into being when I was a college freshwoman majoring in elementary education, and I did love it as something fresh and new–but nobody seemed to notice that NONE of the Muppets was female except for the horrendous stereotype Miss Piggy.

    Newer female Muppets, like Abby Cadabby? Concocted by committee. Feh.

    Oh, and does anyone else remember Kate and Allie? Loved that show about two single moms pulling together. None other than Gloria Steinem dismissed them (in comparison with Cagney and Lacey) as being “losers,” predicated on the fact that they were divorced. My instant reaction: “Fuck you, Gloria. That’s MY LIFE you’re pissing on.”

  74. lizor

    Anyone read this NYmag article by Roseanne last year? I like the part about the chocolate “1”


  75. Danielle

    I just want to say that the new banner makes me chuckle every time I visit. Now I know what a jaundiced eye looks like.

  76. TwissB

    @incognotter – I hope that you would be disappointed if you were to view Murphy Brown again through new eyes. In order to be a boss woman, she had to be shown as a bossy woman, commonly known as a “real [insert b-word here].” After the writers had used up all of the commonly available plot lines about that character, the inevitable death of the show was announced by having Murphy not only get impregnated by somebody to whom she was not married (quel feministe!) but then of course haver to proceed to have the baby with the whole office gang present as if they owned her experience. Same fimal soplution applied to the enjoyable Helen Hunt character in “Mad About You.” All this belies the fact that I rarely watch TV, but it does explain why that may be so.

    @lizor – Fine article by Roseanne for which you supplied the link. I think that some of the younger cast members and their parents did not really understand the tormenting to which Roseanne was being subjected and thought that she was just making life harder on everyone involved.

    Re ERA my 8/31 post, and recommended reading, your comments here or on my email would be appreciated.

  77. MarianK

    Just weighing in to the Roseanne discussion (which I hadn’t fully read before posting my previous comment), in response to this comment by Ciccina:

    ‘Roseanne raised issues of multiple kinds of inequality, said they were not okay, and left it at that. No collapsing into the “poor but happy” Waltons type stereotype.’

    Most people are aware of the Hollywood Code and its heavy restrictions on the portrayal of sex in films. However, few are aware of the equally heavy restrictions that were put on the portrayal of social justice issues. Working class people had to be portrayed as being either happy with their lot or, if not happy with their lot, they were only allowed to beat the system through rags to riches storylines, like marrying into wealth or taking the self-made man [sic] path or becoming a powerful gangster – often with destructive consequences.

    Pre-code films often showed the despair and injustice of socially inflicted poverty, but this all but disppeared after about 1935. Film historians still fall back on the erroneous claim that people of the Depression just wanted to escape into films about glamour and wealth, while ignoring the implications of the Code.

    By the time TV took hold in the culture, many of the Code restrictions had become so entrenched that its conventions about the portrayal of working class people continued on in much the same form.

  78. ptittle

    I’ve watched Murphy Brown recently and am NOT disappointed. Except for the last season.

    However, I also watched Cagney and Lacey recently, and WAS disappointed. I recall it as being much more feminist. But their level of performing femininity was a surprise.

    How about Kate and Allie? I was never a fan, but alternative household, etc.

    Grace under Fire.

    Judging Amy? Ditto.

    Third Rock from the Sun? not too vintage, but…

  79. Shelby

    Malcolm in the Middle. Not feminist, but not hideous. Underrated and highly entertaining. Thanks Lizor. I enjoyed that blurb by Roseanne Barr. Rememeber the bollocking she copped when she sang the national anthem at some big footy wooty or baseball game?

  80. Saurs

    Can I change my answer, miss?


    First series of Prime Suspect. It’s not even a detective program, really, which is why some big knobs at some rival channel (I am being precise, here) had to make Crack-ah, just to show the ladies how a soap about the coppers is really done.

    Anyhow. First series. Tennison tackling laddish thugs from every which way (the sadist psychokiller, the higher-up boys’ club at work, her “team,” her boyfriend), and not quite coming out on top. Another DCI (a creepy john when he’s at home) has to fucking die before she’s given an opportunity to actually do her job, and thereafter she’s treated like an uppity and incompetent usurper in a PC world gone mad (world gone PC mad? World gone mad. With PC-ness). She’s undermined and sabotaged by dudes who don’t even hide their contempt for and fear of her. Not only does she ferret out obvious corruption and conspiracy at work, but she’s clever enough to use what she’s found to oust the biggest pig of them all (who later becomes kinda sympathetic and sad, but that’s much later).

    Wherever she goes, she’s mistaken for a prostitute, underling, or somebody’s girlfriend. She can’t hack the good housewife routine; she gets choccy cake all over her blouse right when her boyfriend’s kid and ex-wife show up, she’s a terrible cook, she’d forget all her household chores (food for her boyfriend’s dinner party) if she didn’t have a finicky male sergeant around to do her shopping. Her entire private life is eaten up by her professional life and the concept of “having” “it” “all” is proven to be an impossible charade unless you’ve got a man at home willing to act like a woman, a family willing to be as supportive, patient, and understanding as they’d be with a son or brother with a demanding and unrewarding job. I’ll never forget Tom Wilkinson’s face as he’s whinging at Helen Mirren that he’s not an answering service, and would it kill her boys to act polite on the phone for a change. He sticks around for like half a second before the emasculation becomes too much for him, and he has to run away after leaving a passive-aggressive, huffy Dear Jane note. The prime suspect is a violent misogynist with a little boy lost face that eventually softens everyone’s heart but Tennison’s. Every little screw up in the investigation is her fault. She has to play mother at work; while the dudes convene to watch an in-house boxing match (featuring one of their boys playing great white hope) and get sloshed and wear suits, she’s got to do thankless PR on the telly, the first female DCI to do so.

    Program probably doesn’t pass the Bechdel test, but there’s not a lot of overt female cattiness and rivalry, like in most media featuring Liberated Ladies, all fighting to be number one bitch. Tennison’s only WPC cracks the case wide open, and her suspect’s common law wife (Zoe Wanamaker, kicking all kinds of thespian ass) eventually recognizes what a fucking creep the dude is, and helps get a confession. Tennison treats prostitutes–the murderer’s preferred victim–like human beings, and her most trusted informer is another woman.

    The character is presented as flawed but admirable, invested in her own success, ambitious, calculating, selfish, but very human, as well. She’s not a ball-busting stereotype nor a Chill Girl, and she’s operating carefully (often painfully and ineptly so) in a world depicted as hostile to her very existence. Even when she partially secures the loyalty of her team, it’s because another man has secretly intervened. It’s not an optimistic program. The male chauvinists have not, in the course of a few hours, been magically rendered sensitive, feminist allies. Private jokes between men about bitches and cunts are still the norm. The rape and murder of women is still something to laugh over while you’re with your mates. Systemic sexism has not been solved. Tennison is not reunited with said boyfriend, doesn’t meet another fella. Challenging the stereotypes doesn’t win her the trust and confidence of her peers. She’s regarded as a pesky anomaly, probably some kind of dyke, which would explain her competence without implicating the rest of womankind, without obligating men to confront their own ignorance. There’s even the suggestion that the murderer might avoid his conviction.

    Second series goes on to try the same tack with people of color, with even darker and more ambiguous results.


    Anyone see the American remake before they had to pull it, for fear ofpermanent damage to critic dude fee-fees?

  81. KarenX

    Third Rock from the Sun is very iffy. Sally was an alien, and she was stuck in the woman’s role, at least in the premises of the pilot (sometimes premises change), due to being unlucky or having lost a bet or something. It rankled her to be a security officer in the body of a woman. And a lot of her story focused on her learning how to be a woman, which included getting a boyfriend and at once point being turned into a supermodel.

    I can’t remember much about Jane Curtain’s character the college professor, but the other women on the show ranged from dopey to unstable with some heavily sexualized thrown in (I’m thinking now of Jan Hooks, and maybe also the landlord of the attic apartment they were living in).

    Something about Tommy’s girlfriend Autumn is bugging me at the edge of memory, but I haven’t seen the show in a long time. She was portrayed as a feminist type, but I don’t know that she was taken seriously as one.

  82. Carpenter

    I still stand behind Murphy Brown. She was a good complex character. The premise of the first few seasons was that she was a hard hitting serious journalist recovering from an alcohol problem, and I think they pulled it off without her being some overly repentant fallen woman. She never got married, and when she took a stance she was almost always right. They had tons of plot lines that specifically addressed feminist issues, I remember one where Murphy had to interview a misogynist shock-jock comedian. There was also the very girl character of Corky Sherwood, who evolved a lot. There was a huge ongoing subplot where Corky got divorced and came to terms the problems with rom-com style romance. There was even an episode with a proto Tea Partier played by Wallace Shawn.

    Another thing is that despite her flaws, we were always supposed to be on Murphy Brown’s side, especially if she was giving it to some jerk. This was also true of Rosanne. This is *not* true of other types of female characters, for example main male characters killjoy-sitcom wives.

  83. ElizaN

    Definitely, Shelby. The episode “Lois’ Makeover” had some good patriarchy-blaming, too, which I didn’t know was allowed on television.

  84. Roving Thundercloud

    RE: Sesame Street, I disagree that it is a feminist show. Having a couple of female characters, or having them “able to do what the boys are doing”, isn’t the same as promulgating feminist ideas.

    Even as a small child I remember thinking, “Where are the girl muppets?” Except for Prairie Dawn with her babyish voice, who doesn’t appear on every show, all the major muppets were, and still are, female. The modern version doesn’t fare much better. (Abby Cadabby, a fairy? Please.)

    We’ve been watching full episodes from the early years and while they were very careful to have a good mix of ethnicities in their live cast, there were only two women (Susan and Maria) to the four main men (Bob, David, Gordon, Luis, plus Mr. Hooper and Willy).

    Most of the animated segments that feature characters have male characters. The big relief for me, as a kid, was that there are so many animations that weren’t gendered at all–it was such a nice alternative to the big three networks.

  85. yttik

    How about Xena and Buffy? It sure was a relief to finally see some women fight back and win. I may have low standards, but if you don’t run screaming, half naked, right past six potential weapons, I’m happy.

  86. susanw

    The only thing I have ever seen on television that seriously addressed sexism was Lynda La Plant’s Prime Suspect. Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison is engulfed in patriarchy, and this program doesn’t let us forget it for a minute. Tennison doesn’t need to be a perfect, freedom-fighting feminist to make the series radical. Quite the contrary, she just wants to do her job and maybe have a relationship that marginally works. On every side she is battered by patriarchy, in full frontal attack, through sleazy, behind the scenes sabotage, and as a nearly invisible, ubiquitous force that trips her up, hems her in, beats her down and robs her of the respect, recognition and love she’d get if she were a man. La Plant shows us a world feminists recognize.

  87. Jen

    Roving Thundercloud, I agree that Sesame Street did not/does not include enough strong, complex female characters. That is an area where Sesame Workshop really needs to improve.

    I think of the project of the show, though–providing a kind of preschool to poor children, who otherwise might not get an early start learning to read and count–as a feminist project.

    Diversity was always a major theme in the show, and I do think there were some distinctly feminist segments:

    “Women Can Be”

    “I Love My Hair”

    “Change the World”

    The Sesame Street website gives parenting advice around diversity that includes suggestions to use gender neutral language:


    For a mainstream show, I do think this is something.

    (Although Abby Cadabby is a pink fairy muppet, she does appear in segments were she and other princess types help each other with their problems instead of being saved by a prince. A nice change from Disney.)

  88. marianK


    After La Plante bowed out of the series, it was taken over by a male creative team and quickly reverted to moralistic norms about what happens to women who put too much of their lives into their jobs. The final episode, written and directed by a men, was horrendous! The once dynamic trailblazing Tennison was reduced to a broken down, bitter alcoholic at the sad end of a burnt-out career and filled with regret at that abortion she had back in the early series. Let that be a lesson to all women who think they can beat the system!

  89. birthingwaylaid

    Many, many of my respected friends and colleagues–women who should, to my mind, know better–are buying and reading those books.

    They ask me if I have read them, and I just say “Nope, and I’m not going to, either.” Then I tell them what I am reading now. (For the record, I am currently reading Sheri Tepper’s Singer From the Sea. Next up, the final two Hunger Games books, which I thought were pretty good, except for all that romantic crap.)

    I’d love to have a one- or two-liner up my sleeve to explain why I cannot support the 50 Shades of Grey author or publishers, but every time I try, I get long-winded and angry to the point of being worried about spittle.

  90. TwissB

    You have to wonder what good it is to bother supporting women for political posts when they can’t summon the courage and common sense to knock out insulting language like this in the 2012 Democratic Platform under the heading “Protecting a Women’s Right to Choose”:

    “Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way.”

    Well shucks, if her family, doctor, and clergy get to make a woman’s decision for her, why not drag in politicians, governments, and any stray passerby and his dog to have their say as well? What kind of a personal decision is that??

    And why the judgmental and gratuitously emotional “intensely”? Her decision and state of mind are her own business..

    All these inserts and modifiers should remind women that their famous “right to choose” is a cruel illusion and a blurring of the meaning of the word “right.” Rights are inherent to the person, but women’s rights mean nothing in a country where men can continue to withhold constitutional recognition of them.

    I don’t see a dime’s worth of difference between parties in men’s determination to control women as breed stock.

  91. susanw

    I hear what you’re saying, marianK. The nature of patriarchy loads any depiction of women with sexism. If we tell a story of how much male domination harms us, we’re playing into the idea that women who buck the system are punished with pain and regret, but if our protagonist overcomes all the obstacles and triumphs over patriarchy, it implies that women who are brave and plucky enough can choose not to be oppressed. That both minimizes the power of patriarchy and chides women who are still trapped. The myth of female inferiority makes it play both ways; if we win, it’s because it wasn’t that hard anyway, and if we lose, we have only ourselves to blame. They get us coming and going.

  92. tinfoil hattie

    @TwissB – right on! Once there are at least THREE others besides myself involved in a decision, exactly how “personal” can it be?

    Fucking infantilization tryimg to masquerade as “support for women.”

  93. Jen

    Sometimes I wish there were a “like” button on IBTP so that I could more publicly like everything TwissB writes.

  94. Grayhaven

    Oh Birthingwaylaid, I’m right there with you. I found that hiddeous 50 shits of grey book in my friend’s car and nearly had a heart attack. Mind you this friend is having a really rough go of it and I would say a large part of why her life is so hard is because she’s never gotten any real therapy to help her deal with having been sexually assaulted as a young child. Whatever coping mechanisms she’s using aren’t working well and then she’s going to take this toxic narrative about sexual assault into her mind? I tried to start to talk to my friend about this but she said she wanted to read it so that she could “…make up her own mind about it”.

    I read the back cover and it basically said something like, old rich dude infects young woman who’s come to interview for a job with SM, but old rich dude just hurts her because he’s been hurt and it’s OK cause she finds out that she likes being hurt.

    What this back cover blurb says is what the dominant narrative in a P is, that men have a right to cause pain because they can feel pain and women like pain so all’s well that ends well. How does a person recover from abuse or assault with this message being pushed at them? Hell how can abuse and assault not be inevitable with this belief being so prevalent?

  95. tarian

    Apropos of nothing at all: Remember the Great Nude Calendar Debate? Seems some of the younger generation are figuring out that wasn’t such a great idea:
    (and I say this as somebody who went through a Feminism Isn’t Needed Anymore phase, followed by an I Choose My Choice feminism stage, so. Whoa, I can be very wrong. The thing to blame is the P, not the people trying to survive under it according to the best of the transient rules they’ve been handed.) There’s even Twisty wisdom in some of the associated discussions!

  96. Jane

    yttk, yea, Buffy and Xena, right on, while they may not be deemed politically correct in rad feminist terms, of the less than recent shows, I would have to concur with you…Willow in Buffy was Revolutionary, in displaying retribution against a murdering women asswipe, and personally I believe young women could learn a lot from the Willow story…Buffy, while yes there was the conflicting bad angel love crap, was amazing in that she didn’t compromise her stand against evil, etc. Xena, was Revolutionary in how the story OD Adam and Eve was deconstructed, and the story of the females crucified which IS the truth about the horrors OD life for most under Roman Empire, a fact that the Bible leaves out with the whole submit thing, only Roman women had the right to refuse rspe, all others were slaves and could not refuse rape even under gawd, etc…Xena depicted many of those realities in subtle ways, as did Bufffy on capitalist corporatism, which is why the religious rapey PEDO moon as hate Both of the shows.

    rosanne, was my favorite actually, but not for it’s feminism, no, but it’s truthful portrayal of rolling class reality, why I loved and still do Roseanne. those of us from those small or rural hick towns can grasp what so many of her stories were about, from an underclass perspective, Yes the women know they Are oppressed by Nigel, they also know in a caste capitalist racist society in many places Nigel is the only solidarity they have against the rich power structure, oppressor. it’s the choice between two evils, you know both suck, but you have to SURVIVE.

    fact of the matter is, in Real life, even with an education, the system is rigged, why many with degrees are living on the streets, or working service sector jobs, for a woman, ESP with kids, ESP older, in towns where only jobs are meat plants or the 7-11, ole Nigel looks good, it sucks but it is that way. Jackie, Roseanne’s sister, had the jobs, etc., but her options were limited, say she went off to college, leaves Roseanne etc., in real life Jackie maybe the only safe place Roseanne has, maybe the only support system, and she won’t leave, etc., or maybe she does only to find herself a debt slave to student loans, etc. my pint is, Roseanne was about Working Class America, the Working Poor, not the yuppies, not the upper suburban middle white class, not the young college age mommy and daddy supported, etc., but about real working class issues and the effects on women, and the struggles against those constraints…

    The religious right wing hated her, not just because she was a loud mouth woman who dared to challenge the patriarchal entitlements, but because she dared expose The Capitalist LIE for the bullshit it truly is,

    And for that, She is a hero, and a feminist one at that!

  97. Jane

    Sorry that readsm so terrible, this pad keyboard auto corrects everything, and censurs words, that should read working class reality, not rolling, etc…it’s a mess, if not discernible let me know and I’ll repost.

  1. Blamer speaks for absentee aunt » I Blame The Patriarchy

    […] will have to wait; on the subject of abortion “rights” in the US, here (from the comments on a recent post) is veteran blamer TwissB articulating pretty much what I would say if I had 20 […]

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