Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Way back in the 20th Century, there was a wave of feminism that stressed strength and independence. Women shook off the notion of finding their identity solely through a relationship with a man. It was the heyday of renaming oneself and claiming the ancient power of womanhood before patriarchy reshaped society.

While winnowing out mementoes of the past quarter-century, I came across some reminders of those days. Not a lot of women practice feminism to the same degree any more, maybe because there is more egalitarianism today in the family and the workplace. Strong women tend to be more appreciated than feared, more accepted on their own terms.

Feminism itself could be oppressive. Admitting a fondness for Mick Jagger could get a woman in a lot of trouble with radical feminists. Boys and men were banned from marches and demonstrations. Old-fashioned courtesies like holding open a door were perceived as condescending insults. But as in all movements, the pendulum swung back toward the middle eventually. Today Michelle Obama can appear on the cover of Vogue without evoking screeds and screeches from flannel-shirt-clad "wimmin."

So wherever you are on the spectrum nowadays, have a happy Valentine's Day today. And feel free to celebrate Susan B. Anthony's birthday tomorrow!

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous joanna cassidy said...

happy valentines day Bernice.

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice shirt--is it, uh, flannel? That is a great photo--you look the same! Also, while we're commemorating, let's also acknowledge the centennial of the founding of the NAACP, which, I will argue, remains the most important organization founded during the 20th century. Too bad the The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund continues to fight the good fight--to paraprhase, they defend, they educate, they empower.

Happy Valentine's Day as well.


10:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the comment above, what I meant to say was, it's too bad that conditions (continued discrimination, inequality, injustice) are such that the NAACP Legal Defense has to fight for these things in the 21st century! Sorry for the muddled diction!


10:43 AM  

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