As a young girl, I aspired to be Della Street in the 1950’s TV series “Perry Mason.” What’s instructive about that is that it never occurred to me that I could be Perry Mason himself. That says a lot about what I was taught about the roles available to women while I was growing up. Of course that changed when I got older.
A few years ago I was in a women’s book group that read and discussed Betty Friedan’s classic work, The Feminine Mystique. All of the women in the group were in their 50’s and 60’s. We’d all had professional careers in a variety of sectors. What we recognized is that Friedan’s book helped explain our mothers to us, but had very little to say in terms of the lives we’d led.
That’s when I had an awareness that might seem odd at such a late stage. I realized that I had been part of the first generation of women who had forged a new path. Women of my mother’s generation didn’t have choices available to them. Being a wife, mother and homemaker was to be their primary focus in life. And growing up, that’s what I assumed myself. Along the way things changed. I can’t point to exactly when or how…it just happened. And to be honest, I never really thought about it that much. I had simply made the choices I’d wanted to make about what to do with my life. That kept me more than occupied for 35 years or so without a lot of time to reflect on what it meant. That is the gift that feminism gave to me.
I thought about that when I read the piece I am about to quote. Coming from The Onion, there are simply times when irony says it best.
Citing her lackluster support among young voters, campaign consultants to Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential frontrunner who has served as both a U.S. senator and secretary of state, reportedly instructed the candidate this week to be more inspiring. “Right now, voters are looking for a candidate who stands for real societal change, someone who can stir something inside them,” said media advisor Jim Margolis, urging the woman—who overcame entrenched societal biases to build a successful legal career, became the first female senator elected in the state of New York, oversaw the Department of State during a period of widespread international tumult, and, if elected, would be the first female president in American history—to appear more uplifting to voters. “Many young people have completely lost faith in the political process, and they want to believe that true progress is actually possible. They want someone who embodies progressive ideals.” Margolis added that Clinton was too much a part of the establishment she spent decades breaking down barriers to enter.