As this presidential election has made abundantly clear, sexism is not just some feminist fantasy.
In a tumultuous campaign year of blatant misogyny where boys behaving badly have both demeaned and objectified women, and sexual misconduct along with sexual harassment have gotten more air time than economic policy, this cartoon from 1971 seems sadly relevant today.
In 1971 the women’s movement had gathered steam with women asserting themselves and questioning the patriarchal system. Like much of the media at the time Cosmopolitan magazine jumped on the Women’s Libbers band wagon running a cartoon features called “Right On Sister.”
In an odd way, 1971 seems less quaint and more familiar.
Girls Were Girls and Men Were Men
That year a public was deluged with revealing leaks, the Pentagon Papers – the Wikileaks of it’s time – exposing the long sordid history of our involvement in Vietnam.
A misogynist, xenophobic, white racist from Queens, N.Y. was the most popular figure on TV, albeit it a fictional one named Archie Bunker and in the very first issue of a new magazine called Ms, an editorial declared: “Eliminating the patriarchal and racist base of the existing social system requires a revolution not a reform.”
Well sisters, we know the revolution hasn’t been won.
That a woman’s lib era cartoon should resonate as much today as it did when I first saw it as a 16-year-old, is a sad state of affairs.
Viewed through a hopeful teenagers eyes whose burgeoning consciousness was only slightly being raised, I was certain moving forward things would change for the better for women; that certainly 45 years later this cartoon would be laughably outdated, a relic of an archaic time and behavior.
But I’m not laughing now.
“Grab Then By The Pussy!”
Like many women I have had a visceral reaction to Donald Trump and his demeaning, lewd comments reminding each of us of the various times in our lives when we’ve been treated in a way that told us as a woman our ideas will never be given as much consideration as our body… at least with certain men. It was both a demoralizing and disempowering feeling. Now those feeling are brought to the surface again, feelings not only from the past but from the present.
That these issues of gender and sex should be brought up now should astonish no one.
No one should be surprised that with the real possibility of first female president all the dormant and not so dormant sexism and misogyny in this culture have been as brought to the surface; nor that Hillary ended up going face to face with a cartoonish poster boy for misogyny.
Despite all the glass ceilings broken by women since 1971, Trump continues to targets women, accomplished women, objectifying them, reducing them to their basic body parts.
Sure there is less tolerance today for sexism and retrograde comments. Today they are likely to be called out on Twitter or else where.
But the fact is misogyny is deep in our psyche, interwoven into the personal aspects of our lives. It’s very nature is insidious , making it difficult to acknowledge and eradicate.
It’s why 45 years later this cartoon is right on!
Scroll down for more cartoons from this series Right On Sister:
When this cartoon appeared, Roe v Wade was 2 years off, with abortion still illegal in many states. 45 years later a woman’s right to choose is still a hot button issue in this campaign election.
In 1971 Representative Shirley Chisholm who would go on the following year to become the first Black woman to run for President from a major party was quoted as saying “I’ve suffered more as a woman than as a black.”
Feminism isn’t a cause only for women, or only for women who have been victimized by men like Donald Trump and his merry band of misogynists.
Feminism is a cause on behalf of all women and all men too. It’s a cause that belies what Donald Trump thinks about the America we want to be and the more people who come together to unite behind that cause, the closer we can get to finally stamping out sexism like Donald Trump’s.
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© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.