I’m reading Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement by Sue Ellen Browder, a former writer at Cosmopolitan magazine, which was being discussed on a morning talk show. For me, it’s interesting to revisit those days that I lived and observed and to discover what was really going on behind the scenes. It’s also given me something to ponder, to analyze how I feel about it, and what I agree/disagree with.
Growing up during that time, I lived a pretty protected life, going to Disneyland and the beach, watching Father Knows Best (or Mother Knows Best as my mother called it), reading Nancy Drew. I was torn between living my mother’s life and becoming a detective ala Nancy Drew, a teacher, a writer, or a singing star. I even had my stage name picked out – Constance Brocade – lol!
But my mother’s life wasn’t all ironing, Password, gardening, and meeting the kids at the corner after school. No, at various times, she was an active part of the work force. And, yes, I remember how much flack she got about having children. According to Sue Ellen, getting pregnant was cause to be fired, and mentioning being a mother cause for never getting hired.
Back then women pretty much had to make a choice – career woman or mother. I remember not wanting to make that choice – I wanted a career and romance and kids came with that or so I thought when I was a kid. But with the availability of sex and birth control, especially as the 70s rolled along, men insisted on both. Suddenly, women could no longer choose to have a family – they must be career-focused and sexually free.
According to this book, the editor and writers of Cosmopolitan created fake people living the “Cosmo” life, promoting a lifestyle of sex, career, and no kids. Within ten years, they didn’t have to make them up anymore because women were embracing the lifestyle and becoming their own version of a Cosmo girl. And that’s when the pro-abortion movement (led by a man) hijacked the women’s movement by including “abortion” as one of women’s rights.
There was some discussion about the show Sex and the City and how, in the end, 3 of the 4 women embraced a more traditional lifestyle. The TV host suggested the writers had sent a message that you can play around all you want, and then you’re rewarded with the traditional life you wanted all along.
I disagree. As a fiction writer, I’m fully aware of character ARCs, that if you’re writing about “Sex and the City,” it doesn’t mean you’re glamorizing a frivolous lifestyle. It just means you’re telling a story and the characters will change over the course of the show. What I took from watching that show wasn’t a glamorous life, but a depressing life because these women wanted love and romance and to get married and live that traditional life – they just couldn’t find a decent man in New York City. The show was all about that quest. The sexual revolution empowered men – not women.
As Catholic creator of many soap operas like All My Children and General Hospital, Agnes Nixon once said, “I write about sin and redemption.” That’s what any good character arc is all about.