Mary’s Manifesto

 

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I never set out to be a feminist icon, yet they made me one. I was an inadvertent example of the movement. At the time, I did not yet realize there even was a movement, although I knew  a woman’s place in society was fundamentally wrong.  I simply tried to acquire some freedom for myself. I wanted independence, my own income and a life where I would not be solely defined as ‘wife’.

On the downside, I was also an uptight thirty-something Minneapolis transplant, on the rebound from a failed relationship and one step away from doormat-ism. But to call me a representative of 2nd wave feminism? That was hardly accurate.

Take my first day at work. Sure, I became an associate producer at WJM News. It was a fancy title, yet my pay was ten dollars less than the lowly secretaries. When my boss, Mr. Lou Grant interviewed me, the first thing he asked was my religion. The second thing was my marital status. When I informed him that I was Presbyterian and single, he asked why. Why I was single that is.  I should have automatically  said “Nunya bizness bitch!” (It was, after all, an illegal question.)  But no. I stammered, clasped my hands and choosing my words very carefully, I began to explain to this total stranger, who was in a position of vast authority over me, that there were a multitude of nuanced reasons as to  why one was ‘still single’ at the ripe old age of thirty.

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Mr. Grant was not interested in my explanation, which made me wonder why he had asked in the first place.

That very same night a drunken Mr. Grant showed up at my apartment. He told me, among other things, that I had a ‘great caboose’. He was lonely and his wife was out of town.

In the meantime, my ex-fiancé (who had been persuaded by my landlady to come rescue me) also showed up at my door with flowers. My ex was a doctor and he proceeded to inform me he had stolen the flowers from a very sick patient.

There I stood, a resistant sex object, not even worthy of receiving store bought flowers. See what I mean about doormat-ism?

I sent my ex fiancé packing. Mr. Grant typed a letter to his wife, then staggered out to mail it. I was relieved to be rid of them. The next day at work I was given a stack of pencils to sharpen. My pseudo-feminist career had begun.

The good thing was I realized then I could take care of myself. Every woman needs to realize she is able to take care of herself.

Up till my last day in the newsroom I could never get past calling my boss ‘Mister Grant’ although everyone else called him ‘Lou’. Even my best friend Rhoda, a fast talking New Yorker, would saunter in his office and boldly call him ‘Lou’.

My self assertion was wrought with shortcomings. I was no Betty Friedan. Gloria Steinem hated me.

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As for the traditionalists, they didn’t like me either. I heard Phyllis Schlaftly was appalled because I often stayed out all night with my dates. ( Oh yes, I did have dates! A plethora of men called on me. I had no intention of marrying any of them.)  This type of thing was a real no-no for a nice Midwestern girl in 1972.  I remained polite.  Never once did I speak of my sexual escapades. After all, those who DO, do not speak, and those who SPEAK, do not DO. Yet I was a sexually liberated woman. A ring never crossed my finger.

So you see, on the spectrum of feminism I really fit right in the middle. People loved me for it. My ratings soared.

In years to come the women’s movement would explode. Every issue would be tackled, from reproductive rights to equal pay to single filing income tax to home ownership. (Even Miranda of Sex and the City was expected to have a husband or father sign off as joint owner of her condo!)

Gender roles would be questioned. Non-traditional family structures would be accepted. Single motherhood and ‘childless by choice’ became (almost) okay.  Young women became more and more vocal in their demands.   And precisely at the time when they were given almost everything they wanted — young women would demand more. They took to the streets wearing pussy-cat ears and Styrofoam genitalia. ( I could not join them. It was simply not my style.)

Rhoda got married and then divorced. The newsroom closed in 1977. As far as Mr. Grant’s behavior, nowadays he would be sued. Ironically, I would not have wanted to sue him. He was, believe it or not, a good boss.

In re-runs I remain America’s sweetheart.

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One of the best parts of my show was of course its theme song! Who knew this catchy little number would inspire the likes of Husker Du and Joan Jett?

I, Mary Richards am now permanently signing off, but I will leave you with this final statement:

Not Princess Leia!

 

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“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.” — Carrie Fisher

There are very few celebrity deaths that bring me to tears, but this one did.

I will always love Carrie/ Leia — a badass girl who, in dangerous situations proved herself to be no damsel in distress. She brought a new paradigm for the traditional fairy tale princess. Even Disney took a clue.  After Leia came the likes of Asian warrior Mulan, along with the super-smart Belle, Scottish Brave-girl Merida, ice queen Elsa and the wounded but loving Malificent.  They were  all radicals who cared more about helping their families and contributing to society’s greater good than they did about ball gowns, riches and marrying handsome princes.  Gone were the sleeping beauties, in were the new feminists.  Princess Leia set an important precedent.

To me, Carrie and Princess Leia are forever intertwined.  Carrie pulled off the role splendidly, and spoke to generations of girls. In real life she was a warrior too, defying conventions and taking on the taboos of addiction and mental illness. Her books were bittersweet, tragically hilarious.  Carrie Fisher was a brave, funny, frank and fantastic woman.

Star Wars may be fiction, but to many of us it is very real. The Force is forever with us. There are psychological/ Jungian/ collective subconscious reasons for its popularity. Deep within the human psyche lurks a longing for the righteousness of myth.

Just ask the late great Joseph Campbell, a professor of mythology who spent a good deal of time on George Lucas’ ranch.  He’ll give you an earful! Here is a short sample:

 

Some great Carrie moments that sum it all up:

 

Farewell sweet princess, you will not be forgotten. We will look for you among the stars, the Pleiades and Milky Way, walking the sky and mining the truth as you are wont to do.

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Bette Davis Eyes

 

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“Her hair is Harlow gold, her lips a sweet surprise

Her hands are never cold; she’s got Betty Davis eyes.”

Old Hollywood, known for its tyrannical practices, managed to produce some of the most badass and ballsy women to ever grace the silver screen.  Bette Davis was among them. These no nonsense females invented shoulder pads and knew just what it “takes to make a pro blush.”   They will always have Paris.

Buckle your seat belt, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.  A tribute to  silver screen  divas! 🙂

 

 

This post is in response to the Daily Prompt Eyes

Women in the Desert

 

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Have you seen the 1991 movie Thelma and Louise? If not, you must rent it or stream it. Immediately!

Geena Davis stars as Thelma , a stuck at home housewife and Susan Sarandon  plays Louise, a  cynical waitress.  The two are both funny, smart, a little bored and maybe secretly longing for adventure when they set out on a weekend get-away.  Here is what they look like in the beginning.

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Yeah, too much lipstick and bad eye shadow. That’s all gonna change. Their  plan is to drive to a friend’s cabin in the mountains to do some fishing and communing with nature. But actually, they want to get away from bosses, husbands, boyfriends and other  oppressive types who happen to be causing problems in their lives.

On the way they stop at a country/ western bar where Thelma, after dancing and being a bit too friendly with Harlan (a would be date rapist) is assaulted by him in the parking lot.  Louise comes to Thelma’s rescue and  accidentally kills the guy.

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 “In the future? When a woman’s cryin’ like that? She ain’t havin’ any fun!” 

 

Then these two normal, everyday women unwittingly become dangerous criminals  on the run from the law.   Before the movie is over they will be guilty of  murder, armed robbery, property destruction and holding an officer at gunpoint. Also  adultery, driving  WAYYY over the speed limit and stealing whiskey, sunglasses and hats.  The snowball effect follows them as one catastrophe leads to another, none of it being their fault. In the meantime they make some poignant self discoveries.

Maybe it would have been different if that truck driver would have just apologized…

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Not only is this movie a feminist masterpiece,  it is also a  great tribute to the American West, full of breathtaking cinematography.  Thelma and Louise, in their non-stop driving spree, travel through long stretches desert highway, red rock caverns, cattle round-ups, endless sky and even the Grand Canyon itself.

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Plus, we get to watch  a young Brad Pitt (before he was even famous.)

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I love this film because it is a realistic, funny and sometimes disturbing look at 20th century feminism.  And it’s not just about women shooting guns.  (If it were, I’d surely hate it.)  There is actually very little violence, although it was touted as such, and with great controversy when it first came out. This story is really more of  a psychological study of life under the pink collar. Can two feisty, flirty women travel across the country, drink and dance in bars without fear of being raped?  (Yes! Nowadays they can.)   Luckily things have changed a lot since 1991. Maybe even in part because of this film and others like it. Written by Callie Khouri,  directed by Ridley Scott.  Highly recommended for bad-ass women and rebels everywhere 🙂

Here is my favorite scene:

 

This post was inspired by the Daily Prompt Desert

Pandora’s Box

 

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They told me not to open it. Well now.  If Zeus did want me to open it, he should not have given it to me in the first place.   A women’s curiosity?  Bah!  They always need someone to blame, don’t they?  But don’t believe everything you hear.

Come closer. I will tell you the TRUE story.

It was Zeus, my uncle, who gave me the box. All the while he ordered me to leave it clamped shut. “Do not touch it, Pandora,” he commanded, his voice full of curmudgeon contempt. “If you dare open it, the consequences will be great.”

I paid him no heed.  Zeus!  I owed him no favors!  Had he not raped and pillaged and punished? There was Leda the swan, his own wife Hera, my mother Demeter.  He had sent many a plague upon my kin.  He deserved no obedience from me, nor anyone else!

I sat in silence for awhile, mesmerized as I examined the  box.

Oh, such a beautiful thing it was!  A clear glass full of sparkling liquid crystal.  Every color of the rainbow exuded from it. Such joy lie within it!  Miracles were contained beneath its very walls. That I knew somehow, without being told.  And all of this wonder was at my tingling fingertips!

I fondled the  box, pressed my hands upon it, felt its warmth. I smelled its great smells of honeysuckle and lavender, felt the stirrings inside myself as my heartbeat quickened.  Inside that box, I thought, must be love itself.

Finally, I could stand it no longer!  I jiggled the  lid. The stubborn box remained shut but I jiggled again, prying the top. At last  it opened and nearly exploded, its rainbow of colors cascading across the sky. Oh, what a marvelous sight it was!  I watched, dumbfounded and speechless.

 

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It was then my mother Demeter found me.

“Pandora!” she shouted. “Foolish girl.  The contents of that box are all my  sacredness, all my secrets! And you have let them go.”

In a fluster Demeter reached to the sky, attempting to gather up the spilled rainbow. But alas, it was too much to contain!  Such a thing it was, seeping  through the clouds, spilling into rocks and water and plants, into the steam of hot springs and the forgings of fire. Into the trees and the wind itself.

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“Oh daughter,” Demeter scolded me.  “You have made a chaos! Such knowledge,  acquired by the wrong factions…”  She hesitated and scowled.

My mother put her hands on her hips, watched as the colors dissipated far into the earth’s hidden places. She shook her head and thought a long time. Finally she looked upon me, held up one finger and said, “I know a solution.”

By then I was ashamed of my brash actions. I had succumbed to the temptation of beauty, of that bright and shiny thing within my reach.  “What solution will it be, mother?” I asked sheepishly.

Demeter smiled. “I will create covens of women. They will be of a special blood, and they alone will be privy to the  box’s magick. They will find it in rocks and plants and fire and sky as it has dispersed itself over the world.   They will  create potions and use my sacred knowledge. Only they shall have the power to save humankind.”

I gasped. Such a race? It seemed unimaginable.  But Demeter only looked at me, her eyes glittering and rich.

“These women,” she said, “shall be called Witches.”

 

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This post is in response to The Daily Prompt ‘open’  pingback

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/open/

Remembering Magdalene

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She was the thirteenth disciple.  A devotee of Yeshua who followed him along the shores of Galilee, had heated debates with Peter, did a lot of anointing and brought a unique feminine energy to his ministry.  She even wrote her own gospel, which can be found in the Nag Hammadi Gnostic texts.  Mary of Magdalene was with Jesus till the bitter end, witnessing the beatings, the nails, the crown of thorns and all the atrocities mankind had laid upon him.  Reportedly she remained even when some of the men had fled in horror.  She wept at the foot of his cross.  According to scripture, it was Magdalene who went first to Jesus’ grave, found the open tomb and witnessed the risen Christ.

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Some say she was actually the wife of Yeshua. This is a perfectly plausible theory. Long before The Da Vinci Code was flying off bookshelves, many historians had already proposed this premise.

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France was ahead of the game, having devoted many shrines and chapels to Magdalene centuries before anyone thought to delve into the secret/ not so secret societies of Knights Templar et al.  Some people claim that Magdalene and Yeshua had five children together.  And yes, you and I could potentially be descendants   🙂

During the Middle Ages, in a decision made by Pope Gregory the Great, the Catholic Church condemned Magdalene as a prostitute. This was supposedly due to some flimsy biblical evidence about loose women, but mostly it was due to fear – fear of having to acknowledge Magdalene as a powerful woman who was fully capable of conducting a ministry

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Ever since the repression of the ancient mother goddess, organized religions have had difficulty in recognizing the divine feminine.  Apparently the church felt the need to create a dichotomy, reducing women to a role of either Madonna or whore.   Mary of Nazareth, Yeshua’s mother, was clearly filling the Madonna role, so Mary of Magdalene had to become the slut.  Logical.

Pope Gregory’s decision, made in the year 591, stuck for a long time.  In fact, it stuck all the way up until 1969 when Magdalene was officially welcomed into the realm of Saints. (Yes, 1969!)  The freeing of Magdalene was possibly influenced by  civil rights movements and the 20th century version of women’s liberation.   However, the stigma remains till this day. Magdalene is often still portrayed as a temptress, seductress and femme fatale.

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By shutting off and reducing feminine power, the church has put itself in jeopardy. By not recognizing the sacred embrace of Magdalene and Yeshua, the church has cut itself off from sexual expression.  This has often resulted in perversity and darkness, not to mention child abuse, scandal and several legal battles.  (See  academy award winning movie Spotlight.)

This Sunday, Christians all over the world will be commemorating the risen Christ.  We can also  recognize and celebrate the divine feminine of Magdalene and principles of life everlasting.

We are all one, as infinite as the stars. There is no death, only a transference of molecules into another dimension.  Have a Blessed Easter.

Watch Magdalene’s song from Jesus Christ Superstar here:

 

 

 

“Bringing the world closer through peace, harmony and understanding of the wise-craft.”

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