Thursday, September 29, 2011

Women Had It Better in the Sixties? Yeah Okay

I just read an article from the Huffington Post entitled "Women Had It Better in the Sixties." Written by Anna David, the article is pretty indicative of how people often use piss poor arguments in order to discredit entire social movements and how faceless "feminists" are often mentioned but never named.

From the article:
When I first picked up "Sex and the Single Girl," I assumed that since it was published in 1962 and written by Helen Gurley Brown, a woman famous for crafting cover lines about the 500 best ways to give blow jobs, it would be filled with a lot of antiquated and crass crap.

I was wrong.

Or rather I was partially wrong. There's antiquated stuff in there (a "homosexual" isn't "really a man," a woman shouldn't cook a guy a meal until he's taken her out 20 times -- take your pick) and her suggestion that single women should keep married men around as "pets" certainly qualifies as crass. But rather than being singularly focused on how women need to do everything in their power to try to land a man, her main point seemed to be that we should celebrate our singlehood. And I actually think that's a far better message than a lot of what the standard issue feminists today are saying.

...To be honest, I'm bored silly by the so-called empowering women out there today, who seem to be either full of crap entirely, far more into self-promotion than they are into women-promotion, or hiding their other issues under the umbrella of feminism. (When I did a story with another writer for a magazine that wanted to shoot us rather scantily clad, the other writer pitched a fit, saying that she was a feminist and dressing sexy for a photo would be exploitative; after she left, everyone agreed that her real issue was with her weight and body in general. But why admit that when you can just lean on good old feminism instead?)

I say, rather than going around talking about how new TV shows glamorize something few actually believe is glamorous or getting hysterical about how not enough women are allowed to write op-eds or parading through the streets topless in order to protest the double standard, we should be talking about the way women are truly exploited today: the fact that we're consistently told that we're "desperate" and "lonely" if we're single. We should be fighting to change the perception that being smart and successful -- achieving all those things that these feminists are continuing to fight for -- actually makes us less appealing as partners.

I think most of what today's "feminists" do is at best a waste of everyone's time and at worst a dangerous distraction from where we really should be focusing. So I say that everyone else can have their Gloria Steinems and Susan Estrichs. I'll take Helen Gurley Brown, a woman who managed to become one of the highest paid copywriters in America without ever feeling like she had to burn a bra or de-sexualize herself for a photo.

But I actually think that things are worse for us in many ways than they were in Helen's time. Back then, girls either did or didn't sleep around and most didn't. But I was raised at the tail end of women's lib and told that I could do whatever I wanted. And yet there's no denying the fact that a lot of sexual encounters I've had have left me feeling ashamed. Sure, there have been obvious shame-inducers -- like the guy who told me that because of the structure of a woman's body, a man needed to feel like he really knew a woman in order to perform oral sex but the reverse wasn't true because "that version of the act just isn't as intimate." But a man doesn't need to say something like that for a woman to reproach herself -- many feel shame whenever they spread their legs outside of a deeply serious relationship.

...But the worst news of all is that having it all doesn't ensure us any kind of safety or security today. Our husbands can still cheat on us and abandon us for flight attendants. Our having carved our way into alleged equality doesn't spare us from potential humiliation and abandonment. Just ask Huma Abedin, a woman who, when her husband was busted for his crotch shots, was consistently accused of having married for the wrong reasons -- as if his activities were somehow her fault.

We know that men are dumber today -- fewer are going to college and there are more women than men in medical school. But are women, too? And if we're not, what, then, is the word to describe the fact that our so-called advocates go around making a stink about issues that don't matter -- that have been focused on plenty already or are just plain ridiculous -- instead of talking about the ways we're truly being exploited?
First of all, who are these self-serving feminists and what are these unimportant issues that are stopping David from having guilt free sex? She just wants to feel good about being single dammit and all that talk about sexual assault and work equality are boring her. And while I don't usually like to get my feminism from a woman whose first response is to criticize another woman's looks or uses intellectually lazy comments like "hysterical" that reinforce the attempt to discredit women's concerns by painting them as overly emotional, what do I know?

Seriously, this is some of the worst drivel I've read in a while. You don't even have to try with David. Basically she's upset that men don't find her success attractive and that her value is based heavily on how attractive she is. Instead of recognizing the vicious cycle for what it is though, David blames other women for her struggles (with not only men but her sexual life as well). But why admit that when you can just lean on good old feminism instead? (See what I did there?) We're only supposed to care about the issues David finds important and apparently all issues begin and end with her ability to get a man. Way to shock us with something new there David.

The way David paints men is also problematic. Men are dumb and incapable of being attracted to successful women? I don't know who burned David in the past, but you owe us all one now buddy.

The best thing about this article though is how it's brought many women who lived in the 60s into the conversation. Talking about sexism and the difficulty most women faced when trying to control any facet of their lives, from birth control to getting an apartment as a single woman, was really interesting.

Here's a comment from Renee Florsheim:
The whole reason that Helen Gurley Brown was controvers­ial in the 1960s was that most women could NOT "celebrate their singlehood­". The options for most of us were pretty limited. Because I was smart, it was assumed that I would be a teacher or a librarian for a while - until I got married. The choices for our daughters and granddaugh­ters are nearly unlimited. THAT's what feminism is all about - choice, which we didn't have in those days. We can also agree to be kind to other women, rather than in catty competitio­n with them for the few good men. Your nasty comments about the other author were pre-1970's­, gossipy, and uncalled-f­or. The fact that others with whom you sat around gossiping after she left agreed with you doesn't make it so. In 2011, she had a choice as to whether she wore revealing clothing, for whatever reason she chose!
David doesn't even consider the 60s for anyone other than straight white women looking for marriage. I bet she'd fit right in.


  1. Yeah, this was ridiculous! She took one female author from the 60's and made it seem like that writers thoughts were the way things were back then.

    And with this sentence, "We should be fighting to change the perception that being smart and successful -- achieving all those things that these feminists are continuing to fight for -- actually makes us less appealing as partners." she contradicted herself. So the feminists are fighting for the things that you want to be, yet they're worried about useless stuff like tv shows and op-eds?

    I don't write very well, but I'm not trying to be a writer, either. This woman doesn't write well at all, and she is a writer? That's just sad.

  2. It's easy to look back on the good ol' days when you weren't alive for it and you can imagine it as idyllically as you wish. Make no mistake: this is the best time to be alive, and we can only hope to keep improving, because we have so much to lose now.

    And if men are turned off by her success, that isn't the fault of feminists, that's the fault of the weak men she is pursuing. Feminists didn't take away her right to be unsuccessful and dependent on a man, she made the effort to achieve, something she can only do thanks to the tireless efforts of the movement she seems to blame.

  3. I totally agree with both of you. If anything, this is a good example of how people think all of their problems should be solved or feminism (or whatever) has failed.

  4. HuffPo lost my respect when they started blabbering anti-science rhetoric and catering to the anti-vaccination crowd.


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