January 26, 2017, Prescott-
When I turned on the TV, of a Saturday night, when I was in my pre-teens and early teens, my adolescent eyes were glued to the screen, whenever Laura Petrie appeared. As a few years went by, and Mary Tyler Moore assumed a more unfettered TV persona, I learned the value of seeing a woman or girl as far more than a pretty face, as any man with a pulse is bound to do-some, after a considerable fashion. Mary Richards didn’t need a man to complete her, in any way. Then, there was her real life struggle, mirrored in the character she played in “Ordinary People”, when my sympathies fell with the forlorn husband, played by Donald Sutherland, even while I wished she hadn’t been so vicious towards herself, as well as him and their tortured son, played by Timothy Hutton.
Mary Tyler Moore took up where Lucille Ball left off, becoming an entertainment production powerhouse. She did so, in spite of family tragedies, failed marriages and debilitating disease. When she did find a soulmate, and a measure of peace, she was to shine as both actress and television executive. The example she set should not be lost, on any young woman starting out.
We are at something of a crossroads, with respect to the advancement of women. Too many disempowered men feel as if giving strength to women means that they will be further at a loss. In truth, when my wife prospered and felt validated, so did I. We were never in competition. I have never been emasculated.
I have, recently, been excoriated for supporting the Womens’ March. The alternate view is that all is well, that women are lucky to have it so good in this country and anyone voicing concerns, about the treatment of women and girls, is raising an issue out of whole cloth.
We have made progress, as a society. Many jobs have been rated and graded, with regard to pay and benefits, particularly in the trades. It could even be argued that this is a First World issue, that while upper management is still largely a male province, the punching of a time clock is done in an air of equity. Biology still rears its head, though, in many offices and plants, and there is too high a rate of occurrence of sexual harassment.
We could, despite the argument that those who can’t afford day care should remain childless (a vicious sentiment that reflects some bitterness, of those who scrimped and saved), act more as a community, in ensuring the well-being of infants and toddlers, whose parents don’t have the luxury of market-driven child care.
Women will, most likely, over the coming decades, present more like Mary Richards, or Laura Petrie, than like June Cleaver (“Leave It to Beaver”). Millennials and Post- Millennials, male and female alike, have very clear minds of their own and are not hesitant to voice informed opinions. They will have the burden of cleaning up a fair number of messes and moving communities forward, much as the “GI Generation” had to, upon returning from the morass of World War II.
Mary Tyler Moore did move her needle, and the rising generations, of both women and men, will do the same.