I think before I could walk, my parents set me in front of the TV, where I grew up watching a steady diet of the “Dick Van Dyke Show”, “Sonny & Cher”, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, “That Girl” and “The Carol Burnett Show”. My childhood was spent thinking that I would grow up to be a conglomeration of Mary Tyler Moore, Marlo Thomas, Dinah Shore and Doris Day. These women were entertainment pioneers of that time, but I had no idea. I just knew that was what I was going to be someday.
My Mom is just about as far from a feminist as you can get. She had no idea what a glass ceiling was. She just wanted to be happy. She married the handsome fireman who all her girlfriends talked about, and to this day has no idea how beautiful she is or how attractive she looked in a bathing suit. She went to ECU and worked for the Department of Agriculture and US Geological Survey because she liked the work and her co-workers. She still tells stories about them… And she still holds a grudge because at lunch one day that damned pigeon pooped on the shoulder of her favorite yellow suit, making it unwearable ever again.
Sidebar: In Downtown Raleigh, it was customary for people who worked in the area to walk around Fayetteville Street and the Capital building during their lunch breaks. There was a man who sold peanuts on the Capital grounds. You could eat them yourself, but it was more common to feed the pigeons with them. With the elevated pigeon population, there was a greater chance of encountering pigeon poop at one time or another while strolling through, although it hardly ever happened.
Yesterday Mary Tyler Moore passed away. I didn’t know how much this would affect me until they played the theme to “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” on the morning show I listen to out of Atlanta. I couldn’t stop crying. She was such an iconic piece of my history. I can probably credit her with my split-second decision to change my major from Business Admin to Journalism, although I had no idea at the time. The ideas you’re spoon fed at childhood are some pretty strong medicine. You really never know when they’ll pop back up to say hello.
I’ve never really considered myself a Feminist by definition either. However, I DO consider myself a strong woman who doesn’t take any crap. I’ve come a long way. In my youth I knew I had a lot to learn so I spent much of it as a wallflower, observing and gathering enough information to form opinions. The downside of all of this was that I also got walked on… A LOT. It also taught me that there’s only so much I can take before I will absolutely take action… thus… my coping strategy has become my low tolerance for bullshit. If that makes me a feminist, I’m okay with that.
The negative connotations of feminism as depicted by today’s media really aren’t okay. It’s great for women to be paid the same as their male counterparts. Why should we be stuck in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant? Honestly, most of the women I know are so much smarter than any of the animals unleashed on the dating websites. I weep for all my single, smart, empowered sisters.
I’m proud to have been raised by the likes of Mary Tyler Moore and her bevy of strong sitcom sisters. To this day it might be why I prefer thought-provoking conversation to animal lust. There’s so little of it out there.
And sure, there’s plenty of good entertainment still being made, but I think someone needs to go bubble-wrap Doris Day and Carol Burnett.