Sunday, February 05, 2006

Three Grand Dames

Betty Friedan.

Coretta Scott King.

Wendy Wasserstein.

All of blessed memory now, may they rest in peace.

Three women whose ovarios were always humming in the far background of my girlish youth, making me foolishly believe I could be anyone I wanted to be.

On NPR today a female interviewer spoke to an old friend and political comrade of Friedan's and stated in almost the first sentence, "She was loud, wasn't she?" The friend demurred. She wasn't falling for that. Then, three seconds later, the interviewer tried again: "Some people thought she was abrasive."

Woman, we're talking about BETTY FRIEDAN here! BETTY FRIEDAN, who's so fresh in her grave she can't even properly spin in it yet, listening to you pull that ole sexist garbage. Hey Lady Interviewer, here's a little tip from Feminism For Dummies: 21st Century Edition -- when women are strong and opinionated, we don't accuse them of being "loud and abrasive" anymore. We leave that to Ann Coulter.

Ihad the pleasure of seeing the iconic Coretta Scott King speak in Baltimore, MD a few years ago and was blown away by the force of her presence. She was all admirable things, and I haven't forgotten the experience.


Blogger Hunt said...

I rarely disagree with you, but I might here. Friedan could be loud and abrasive. Now wait, let me explain before you hit me. I loved The Feminine Mystique in college, and I was excited when I learned she would be our graduation speaker. But I found her really hard to listen to because she was so, well, loud and abrasive it hurt my ears. I was surprised.

And this is not simply sexist. I did not watch the superbowl yesterday because I have never seen a football game, much less the superbowl, but I did tune in to see the Stones and halftime. And guess what? I thought they were really loud, and somewhat abrasive. I mean, you have to love them, but I kept wondering if their ears hurt.

Now certainly pegging a woman as loud because her views are unconventional might be sexist, but avoiding that judgement simply because she is a woman strikes me as patronizing. Friedan wrote a culture-shifting book that made the transparent a form of economic oppression that no one had articulated before. She also could be loud. And abrasive.

Blogger Jaume said...

Luckily the interviewer was a woman. Thanks for stressing that. If the person had been a "he", I don't want to imagine what could have been aside about the comments. But hey, she was probably brainwashed by the male establishment anyway ;-)

Blogger Jaume said...

Sorry, not "aside" but "said". My only working neurone keeps failing lately.

Blogger PeaceBang said...

My darling Hunt, YOU don't have to establish your feminist credentials to me! But okay... loud and abrasive I'm sure she was. Ugly as sin, too. But how come the interviewer didn't start off with at leat some introduction of her accomplishments? It seems she was hell bent on getting the image issue out of the way, as in "if we can just establish that this broad was loud and abrasive, we can move on to considering some of her major contributions. But not until I've made sure to establish her as loud and abrasive first." Why? Because when it comes to reviewing a woman's life, I contend that we still want to deal with her personality, looks and image first and THEN move onto the secondary consideration of her achievements.

As for Mick Jagger, I heard Kelly Ripa say today that his body is a life support system for his mouth, which I thought was kinda funny.

Blogger Hunt said...

Fair enough, and I did not see the interview, so I agree. And I do really think that if I were to add up all the books I read in college, "The Feminine Mystique" would be up there in the top 15 or so (and that's taking into account the Plato dialogues). So I do honestly hold her in high regard, and she deserves a tremendous respect and admiration. I just found her a lot more accessible in print.

Love the Mick comment.

Blogger Kim said...

but isn't Mick Jagger trying to be loud and abrasive?
Who knows, maybe Friedan was too. It was hard for women to get noticed or taken seriously if they weren't.


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