Saturday, April 04, 2015

Newspaper Clippings: 50 Years of Feminism


As I worked to reorganize my studio yesterday, I found a yellowed folder of precious newspaper clippings. A treasure trove, dated from the 1960s-1970s:
  • 'Tradition - or discrimination? Woman's place in academic life draws scrutiny from WEAL', Houston Post, January 6, 1971
  • Education column in NYT, January 10, 1971, 'Women's Studies: So Far, More Questions Than Answers.' Quote from the column: The most immediately striking feature is the parallel to that other radical departure from departmental norm - black studies. In both instances, there is the same mixture - and ambiguity, in the view of some observers - of scholarly intent to dig into neglected areas of research and teaching, on one side, with the political therapeutic purposes of creating an improved self-image.'
  • 'The FemLib Case Against Sigmund Freud', Richard Gilman, in the NYT Magazine, January 31, 1971. We've just been discussing this subject in Jill Carroll's class on Betty Friedan's 'The Feminine Mystique' at the Women's Institute. We and most reasonable folks have debunked Freud's views on women. I remember reading Freud for the first time for a sociology class at Cornell and finding his reasoning absolutely nuts. Even at 19, I knew that penis envy had nothing to do with me. I never wanted a penis, I always wanted a career, wanted to use my innate talents, wanted the freedom to fly. A penis? Really?
  • From Saturday Review, that wonderful weekly magazine to which I subscribed for years: 'Fettered and Stunted by Patriarchy', Muriel Haynes reviews Kate Millet's 'Sexual Politics' and two other books. A quote from Millet's book: Sexual inequity functions insidiously, through habit, as a divine mandate - rather like a religion in its own right.
  • 'That Equal Rights Amendment - What, Exactly, Does It Mean?', Robert Sherrill, NYT Magazine, September 20, 1970. The article begins with Freud's infamous quote: 'the great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer despite my 30 years of research into the feminine soul is: What does a woman want?' Freud was a fool, really.
  • 'Women as Property', Verna Thomasson, The New Republic, September 19, 1970. The article has been ripped from the magazine. Hope I can find it 'somewhere'.
  • 'The Gals Turn Pro' in The Net Set magazine. 1969 story about Gladys Heldman, friend of Dot Hines. Tennis history was made in Houston, TX, when the majority of the top women players in the world turned pro. Feldman was the force behind the move.
  • 'Today's feminism, men are finding that gains for women don't necessarily mean losses for them', The Houston Post, April 22, 1973. Reprinted from the Christian Science Monitor. Quote from Warren Farrell: 'I was able to take more time on career choices because my wife was financially independent' and he advises men not to think of women's liberation just in terms of their wives but to consider the kind of life they genuinely want for their daughters.
  • From The NYT Book Review, March 10, 1964 (we were in New York, just married), 'Speaking of Books: Emma in the Suburbs' by Louis Auchincloss who begins: Mary McCarthy, when asked by a Belgrade interviewers what book best represented the modern American woman, replied, 'Madame Bovary'.
  • In Texas Monthly, (no date), 'Abortion in Texas', Martha Hume. Written shortly after Roe vs Wade, the article assesses the abortion situation in Texas and gives Texas a highly qualified 'yes' to safe, legal and available criteria. Would that this were so in 2015.
  • Saturday Review, May 18, 1963, devoted to articles on The Education of Women and published the same month as that issue of Vogue with articles by Marya Mannes and Joan Didion - the Vogue that changed or affirmed my life plans.
  •  NYT, January 31, 1971, review by Betty Friedan of John Cassavetes' 'Husbands' which I read to ES. We were both so inspired by the review that we downloaded the movie. What a wonderfully strange and beautifully filmed movie. And I agree with Friedan's assessment. The three husbands - Cassavetes, Peter Falk and Ben Gazarra - are troubled men whose wives are completely foreign to them. They are sustained by brotherly bonds and love of another. Unruly boys, they are filled with feelings unexpressed, alone except with one another. Friedan maintained that 'the feminine mystique' kept women dependent and unfulfilled, and their men resentful and also not quite grown-up. Cassavetes shows there is truth to her assessment.
So, there you have it. I have been amassing uncounted troves for 50+ years. And I won't be parting with one single article from this folder. Women have been so much progress in forty years and yet still suffer such persistent and constant backlash. The cross-generational conversations at 'Finding Our Way' will be most interesting.

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