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Unformatted text preview: P R O L O G U E A Day without Feminism We were both born in 1970, the baptismal moment of a decade that would change dramatically the lives of American women. The two of us grew up thousands of miles apart, in entirely dif- ferent kinds of families, yet we both came of age with the awareness that certain rights had been won by the women's movement. We've never doubted how important feminism is to people's lives—men's and women's. Both of our mothers went to consciousness-raising-type groups. Amy's mother raised Amy on her own, and Jennifer's mother, questioning the politics of housework, staged laundry strikes. With the dawn of not just a new century but a new mil- lennium, people are looking back and taking stock of fe- minism. Do we need new strategies? Is feminism dead? Has society changed so much that the idea of a feminist move- ment is obsolete? For us, the only way to answer these ques- tions is to imagine what our lives would have been if the women's movement had never happened and the conditions for women had remained as they were in the year of our births. 3 Imagine that for a day it's still 1970, and women have only the rights they had then. Sly and the Family Stone and Dionne War- wick are on the radio, the kitchen appliances are Harvest Gold, and the name of your Whirlpool gas stove is Mrs. America. What is it like to be female? Babies born on this day are automatically given their father's name. If no father is listed, "illegitimate" is likely to be typed on the birth certificate. There are virtually no child-care centers, so all preschool children are in the hands of their mothers, a baby-sitter, or an expensive nursery school. In elementary school, girls can't play in Little League and almost all of the teachers are female. (The latter is still true.) In a few states, it may be against the law for a male to teach grades lower than the sixth, on the basis that it's unnatural, or that men can't be trusted with young children. In junior high, girls probably take home ec; boys take shop or small-engine repair. Boys who want to learn how to cook or sew on a button are out of luck, as are girls who want to learn how to fix a car. Seventeen magazine doesn't run feminist- influenced current columns like "Sex + Body" and "Trauma- rama." Instead the magazine encourages girls not to have sex; pleasure isn't part of its vocabulary. Judy Blume's books are just beginning to be published, and Free to Be . . . You and Me does not exist. No one reads much about masturbation as a natural activity; nor do they learn that sex is for anything other than procreation. Girls do read mystery stories about Nancy Drew, for whom there is no sex, only her blue roadster and having "luncheon." (The real mystery is how Nancy gets along without a purse and manages to meet only white people.) Boys read about the Hardy Boys, for whom there are no girls....
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This note was uploaded on 02/27/2012 for the course WOST 280 taught by Professor Stephanieallen during the Spring '12 term at Purdue.
- Spring '12