How to Spot a Feminist

Vintage illustration buiness men as trophys

Hunting Down a Misogynist

Clutching their dusty, out of print copy of “The Misogynist Field Guide to North American Feminists,” many took to twitter at the urging of a conservative radio host, using the hashtag #HowToSpotAFeminist in pursuit of this latest sport.

After conservative radio personality Doc Thompson sent out a message tweeting “Any tips on #HowToSpotAFeminist, twitter exploded with sexist tweets , the hashtag sparking an angry debate about feminism.

Predictably mocking feminists as whiny, unattractive and unable to attract a man, these hackneyed tropes seem straight out of an episode of Mad Men where jokes were cracked about meetings “being bitch sessions, strictly consciousness lowering” a clear jab at  the newly formed women’s lib.

1970 Womens Lib illustration

“Lib Poster” Illustration from Newsweek Magazine 3/23/70 Women in Revolt

Now 45 years after the women’s liberation movement stormed onto the scene opening a floodgate of discourse about women’s rights, it’s déjà vu all over again.

Ironically because feminist ideas are so taken for granted, few women think of themselves as feminists. Just as the right has demonized liberalism, so the backlash has convinced the public that feminists are the true American scourge.

The modern aversion to the word feminism and the archaic  clichés of feminists as male bashing, make-up-less, angry and non domestic are the very same stereotypes perpetuated by the media during  the burgeoning women’s liberation movement of the 1970’s.

With more dissatisfaction among women regarding huge gender disparities in pay and advancement, along with sexual harassment at work,  women  began to revolt.

Women in Revolt

1970 Women Lib Newsweek Cover Women in Revoly

Newsweek Cover March 23, 1970 “Women in Revolt” Cover Photo by Richard Ley

In 1970 as the national women’s movement gathered steam, Newsweek magazine’s all male management decided to put feminism on their cover, featuring a lengthy article entitled  Women’s Lib: The War on “Sexism.”

A new specter is haunting America,” it announced ominously – the specter of militant feminism. Convinced they have little to lose but their domestic chains, growing number of women are challenging the basic assumptions of what they consider a male-dominated society.

1970 Womens Lib Newsweek 1970

Women’s liberation, members demand full rights for the once frail sex: A new American dream for the 70’s. Newsweek Magazine 3/23/70 Photo by Howard Harrison-Nancy Palmer

Right off the bat, the magazine offers an explanation why a woman was writing this feature, a job usually best left to a man.

In an age of social protest the old cause of U.S. feminism has flared into new and angry life in the women’s liberation movement. It is a phenomenon difficult to cover; most of the feminists wont even talk to male journalists who are hard put in turn to tell the story with the kind of insight a woman can bring to it. For this weeks coverage Newsweek sought out Helen Dudar, a topflight journalist who is also a woman.

1970 Feminist stereotypes

1970 negative stereotypes of feminists as karate chopping, bra burning, male hating women in desperate need of shaving their legs still persist.

Forever solidifying the stereotype of the feminist as unattractive, combative and a women in need of Nair, the article offered the reader its’ own guide to spotting and identifying a feminist .

Plunging into the movement can mean a new lifestyle,” the article explains. “Some women give up make up; a lot of them fret over whether to give up depilation in favor of furry legs; A few of them are bouncy looking lot, having given up diets and foundation garments.

Femininity vs Feminism

1970s Feminism text

The image of the  unattractive feminist stuck.

By mocking and dismissing the way feminist activists looked and behaved, they reinforced the same notions that sometimes sexual objectification and subordination were just fine.

1970 Germaine Greer feminist attractive

Though eager to shed many of the holdover trappings of the 1960 femininity, the backlash against feminism was filled with cautionary tales about what happens to women who are too outspoken and too much freedom. (L) Germaine Greer, an attractive Australian journalist and theorist was a major feminist voice in the 20th century who was palpable to men (R) The liberated lady could still swing to a new beat in a bra and girdle in this 1970 Maidenform Ad

Unless you were a saucy feminist like Germaine Greer, the media noted, a libber that even men liked with her easy charm that distinguished her from her militant sisters, you could count of being pretty lonely.

You’ve Come a Long Way Baby

Vintage Virginia Slims Cigarettes Ad 1971

Vintage Virginia Slims Cigarettes Ad 1971 Women could celebrate their own slim cigarette

 “And virtually all of them in the movement light their own cigarettes and open their own doors,” the article continues.

“Chivalry” is a cheap price to pay for power, one lib leader commented. In any event the small masculine niceties now appear to liberationists as extensions of a stifling tradition that overprotects women and keeps her in her place.

Male Chauvinist Pigs

vintage illustration woman secretary being gazed at by her boss

The male gaze

A favorite negative stereotype was the hostile, humorless, man-bashing, sexually uptight, karate-chopping libber who saw male chauvinism at every turn.

Newsweek explained:

Among the man things that incite movement women to fury are the liberties men take in addressing them on the street-whistles “Hey Honey” greetings, obscene entreaties.

Casual annoyances to the unenlightened, this masculine custom becomes, in the heightened atmosphere of women’s liberation, an enraging symbol of male supremacy reflecting mans expectation of female passivity and more important, his knowledge of her vulnerability.

1970 Womens Lib Karate

Photo Newsweek Magazine March 23, 1970

We will not be leered at smirked at, whistled at by men enjoying their private fantasies of rape and dismemberment, ” announced a writer in a Boston lib publication.” WATCH OUT. MAYBE YOU’LL FINALLY MEET A REAL CASTRATING FEMALE it boldly announced.

Her point was part of a plea for the study of karate a fashion that inspires men to helpless ho-ho-hos’s.

The lib view is that most girls discouraged from developing their muscles grow up soft and weak and without any defense reflexes to speak of. A little karate can go a long way in a woman’s life, according to Robin Morgan, a poet a wife a mother and the designer of the movements signet- a clenched fist within the circle of the biological symbol for female.

In the new feminist doctrine karate is not merely a physical or psychological weapon, It is also political if you agree that rape is a political act.”

Thus the karate-chopping libber became forever part of pop culture.

Hai Karate

In an odd coincidence, karate was already part of the pop culture landscape in a series of ads run by Hae Karate After Shave, but here it was the man performing karate to defend himself against his sex crazed girlfriend ( or even his own wife ).

 

Hai Karate After Shave ad

Hai Karate After Shave ad 1969

Hai Karate ran a campaign offering a small self-defense instruction booklet sold with each bottle of after shave to help wearers fend off women. The notion being that the aftershave would turn women into wild maniacs who couldn’t wait to attack  you.

“New Hai Karate is so powerful it drives women right out of their minds, That’s why we have to put instructions on self-defense in every package.”

Newsweek Women in Revolt

office secretary 1970

Ironically, as Newsweek planned this issue on Women’s Lib, they were oblivious to their own staff of women in revolt.

As the rumblings of the embryonic women’s movement began to be heard in 1970 , some women in the workplace began quietly grumbling too.

With the help of attorney Eleanor Holmes Norton, 46 women employees sued Newsweek Magazine for sex discrimination, charging it was a segregated system of journalism that divided the work solely on the basis of gender .

The magazine’s well educated highly qualified women were no longer satisfied answering phones and checking facts for its male staff of writers and editors. When it came to writing they were forced to hand over their reporting to their male colleagues.

Newsweek’s News Hens Sue

Meeting secretly, the group of women  teamed up with a women’s rights lawyer challenging the sex segregation jobs, becoming the first group of media professionals to sue for employment discrimination based on gender under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The night before the issue hit the newsstands the Newsweek women sent a memo announcing a press conference.

Media savvy, the women journalists called a press conference, filing the suit on March 16, 1970 the same day their magazine ran. Crowded into a conference room at the ACLU, “Newsweek’s News Hens” as the N.Y.Daily News called them, held up a copy of their magazine whose brightly yellow cover reflected their own story: Women in Revolt.

 

Copyright (©) 2015 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved

 

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21 comments

  1. We need to publish “How to Spot a Misogynist “. Let’s put Rush Limbaugh face on it and we can title a chapter “Is he a ditto head?” Another chapter would be “Don’t date this guy ever. Never.” Not sure it would change any minds but it sure would be fun.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for capturing the irony: “For this weeks coverage Newsweek sought out Helen Dudar, a topflight journalist who is also a woman.” They had to “seek out” a “topflight journalist who is also a woman” because they hadn’t noticed an entire office full of women co-workers ready to become topflight reporters! Invisible women — that’s part of the story.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It’s a pretty mind boggling story. The fact that they bypassed a staff of highly qualified women writers and went outside for “a topflight journalist” who was married to one of the editors of Newsweek. I believe that was the star that broke the camels back for them. The night before the issue hit the newsstand they flew a colleague to Washington DC to present a copy of their impending suit to Katherine Graham the owner of Newsweek who later asked “which side am I supposed to be on?”

      Liked by 1 person

    • sdaven5191

      Not only did they feel it necessary to “seek out a topflight journalist” from outside an office full of them, they felt it also necessary to point out to the people reading the story that this “topflight journalist, Helen Dudar” WAS ALSO A WOMAN. As if their readers were not equipped with the basic intellectual background to discern that a person by the name of Helen WOULD BE a woman.
      I have always found the need on the part of writers to point out the gender of someone participating in any profession to be insulting to my intelligence. One ~ why would it ever matter; and two ~ if they think you can’t tell by the name to begin with, then they apparently think you’re too stupid to be reading their material in the first place; and see #1. In the case of gender-neutral names, such as Lee or Tracey, it’s usually apparent, IF it matters, it is usually quite apparent by any pronouns that might be used in a general introduction of the writer, or perhaps a photograph.
      Again, in any case, why should it matter? The only reason I can think of is to push their patently obvious agenda (obvious only to everyone but themselves, apparently) so everyone would know that they decided to “step out of the box” and employ an actual female in some function other than doing all the research for the men who then write the stories, get the credit, the byline, and the paycheck for them; answering telephones; fetching coffee; and training all the brand new males in the office so they can then be promoted and advanced in the hierarchy of male supremacy. My goodness. What an incredibly advanced, socially responsible group of people…..not!

      Like

  3. OH the irony. As a 44 year old woman, I grew up with a mom who was a strong supporter of the ERA and being influenced by a stepmother who was strongly opposed to it. Say what?

    I’ve witnessed many women of my generation who refuse to even use the word “feminist” when describing themselves because of the negative connotations that the term still invokes, but when asked whether or not they support equal political, economic, cultural, personal, and social rights for women, they say, “Of course!”

    Liked by 3 people

  4. In truth a feminist is for equal rights for all genders, so many of these naysayers are feminists whether they know it or not.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Reblogged this on sixdegreesofstoogeration and commented:
    (Hint: look for the Nazi symbol!)

    Sigh…I’ve often wondered if Rush Limbaugh actually believed the words that tumble from the mouth part of his face, or if it’s a wonderful, well-paying joke he plays on the good people of America (and beyond!)

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. hkremer

    Great blog, glad I found your comment on B. Lippert’s blog. The 70’s are different things for different people to be sure. My ex husband, born in ’57, was raised with a June Clever mom, and was very happy through the 70’s — his mom continued the Happy Homemaker way.

    I on the other hand was born in ’65, and remember my mother coming into her own. She got a job (remember Home Interiors?) and began working nights, leaving me to my father’s all-too-frequent dried-out hamburgers for dinner lol.

    When I was in grammar school, Mom would leave for work before I was home, and Dad would work into the early evening. I was one of many kids who wore their house keys around their necks, under the shirts. I had a friend who lived down the street — her mom and her boyfriend were living together (gasp!), and her mother didn’t even own a bra. The Ms. magazines lying around her house frightened me with photos of botched abortions (pre-Roe v. Wade), and angry women.

    Again, great blog, looking forward to more!

    Liked by 1 person

    • So glad you found my blog and are enjoying it. You are right, those ten or so years make a huge difference in one’s growing up experience.So you were an early latch key kid, whereas I grew up with being greeted with a Motherly hug and a glass of milk and a plate of cookies when I returned from school.Although my mother did much community service and was quite busy outside the home, those volunteer “good works” were socially sanctioned jobs. Love your stories about the racy neighbors and the braless mother, who no doubt adopted the moniker of “Ms.” early on.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Misogyny seems to me as a very unscientific policy. My own mother was a woman. My life started inside a woman. Half of the genetic material in my body is from a female. Also, the only other animal on the planet that has an aggressive relation to the other sex is the Tasmanian Devil – a very angry little marsupial. But for a short time every year, there is a brief armistice to secure new generations of Tasmanian Devils.

    Those who tarnish the name and logo “feminism” here in Sweden is a bunch of women who use every opportunity to declare that they hate all men. The language many of them use is far below gutter level. They denies that “hating all men” is sexism, and that “hating all white men” is racism. Many of them actually seem to believe that they are non-white, in spite of the fact that their skin color is closer to chalk than brown or black. There are diagnosis numbers for such delusions in the DSM-5 manual of psychiatric illnesses.

    Also, a daily barrage of accusations that “all men are responsible for all rapes” makes one consider the old slur that women are unable to think logically. The collective guilt claim has been used against the Jews for centuries, and against black people in the states below the Mason-Dixon line. Also, if you could say that if all men are guilty of all rapes because most rapes are committed by men, you could also with the same logic say that all women are prostitutes, because most prostitutes are women. And they commits infanticides,
    kills new-born babies, and murder relatives using poison, and so on.

    And – at what age is the burden of guilt put on a boy’s shoulders – at 5? 9? 16? And when an old man – will the accusations follow him down into his grave? Men that are seriously ill from birth? Gay men? Even Jesus Christ?

    And – to what avail? Are there any possible solutions? No, so the nagging can go on for ever.

    The worst anti-feminist song I know of is actually by Frank Zappa – “Bobby Brown”. The fact that it got quite a lot of airplay in Sweden way back then, is more due to the ordinary Swede’s lack of understanding the lyrics that is using words not-taught-in-schools, than sexual liberalism. But I am not quite sure if Zappa wasn’t ironic when he wrote the song? [I need some help there, as English is not my native language.] And the words lashes out in more directions. like at Ivy League male students. And at homosexuals practicing sadomasochism.

    [Straying:]
    By the way, Lou Reed’s “Take a walk on the wild side” was also played on radio when it came, without any commentaries about the lyrics (homosexual transvestites prostituting themselves) – I remember that a granny wanted a request radio show to play that song – for her little grandchildren, then on a Scout summer camp hosted by a Pentecostal church…

    Lots of Swedes have through the years believed that the song is about heterosexual dating. The title printed on T-shirts, and so on.

    But there are songs that even people born in the USA misinterprets – the worst mistake is when the song You’re Gorgeous by Babybird is played on romantic occasions. One person witnessed that it was used at a wedding, when the groom danced the first dance with his bride. This is a terrible mistake, for the theme of the song is really nasty – it is about a man promising a girl to take pictures that will start her on a career as a (fashion) model. But it is a cruel fraud – his camera is a cheap Instamatic, and he makes the girl undress in his car and then he takes pictures that he intends to sell to a porno magazine.

    Some of the confusion comes from the fact that it is sung by a man, but it is narrated from the woman’s point of view. As it is a theme that will remain up to date far into the future, unfortunately, it should be re-recorded by a woman. Could start a discussion, could even be a hit, I reckon.

    I did hear it only once on the (Swedish) radio many years ago, and it made an impression on me. I didn’t get the performers nor the title. So last year I made an effort to identify the song, from the text fragments I did remember. Took me hours in several google sessions.

    Another song, this time the enigmatic “Southern Gothic narrative”, the “Ode to Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry, has puzzled many people, and there are some discussions on the web still, after 50 years. As I interpret it, it is a song supposed to be sung by the teenage daughter of a poor but hardworking and proud, white farmer. The young man Billie Joe McAllister is probably from an even poorer, not but not respected family of the kind that some call “white trash”. She gets the news about his suicide at the dinner table, and is shocked but tries not to show it. A young clergyman had earlier, maybe days ago, made a visit (probably looking for the girl) and he gossips about that Billie Joe and an unidentified girl “loking a lot like you” have been spotted, sitting on the old railway bridge, throwing something into the river.

    I think the suggestions that it would be either drugs or an aborted fetus is too far out. I guess that they have been secretly engaged, but her father would never agree, she knows that without daring to ask him. So they break up, and throws their rings into the water. I sort of used the principle of Occam’s Razor – when you have to make an assumption without supporting facts, choose the most simple possible , an uncomplicated explanation.

    The song is almost perfect of its kind, the musical backing is supporting the narration and makes an almost hypnotic feeling. It is a 20th century version of a Greek tragedy in popular form, about the mortal man’s vain struggle against destiny. It was a hit in many countries all over the world.

    I have a notion that the theme is similar to that in “Of Mice and Men” by Steinbeck, if I remember it right as it was more than 50 years ago that we read that novel in school.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sdaven5191

      Interesting interpretation of the “Ode to Billie Joe” but considering the abject poverty that the two young people have come from, and in which they continue to exist, having rings in the first place is extremely unlikely, and throwing away such potentially valuable items into a river, even more so.

      In a legitimate marriage back then, it was unlikely that any other than the bride would receive any kind of a ring, much less the man. Lorretta Lynn herself didn’t receive a wedding band from her husband, Mooney, until she was already appearing as a regular player at the Grand ole Opry, and they had already been married for years and had four children. And it came from a pawn shop, used, not from a jewelry store.

      Most of the time, unless family rings were being used which cost the couple nothing, the groom in a poor marriage would be highly unlikely to receive or wear a wedding ring. And the couple being referred to here aren’t anywhere near becoming man and wife.

      Like

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  11. Peggy

    That “Women in Revolt” Newsweek cover from 1970—–actress Suzanne Somers is the woman in the photo. She was working as a model then and mentioned in her autobiography that she posed for the cover because she needed the money.
    Seven years later, Suzanne became famous playing a sex “bomb” on the TV sitcom “Three’s Company.”

    Liked by 1 person

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