Sad Women / by Susie Lubell

I find myself without a TV show addiction now that Lost is off the air until next January. What is with these producers? Don't they know that EVERYONE would watch the repeats? And anyway now that my analog TV doesn't work it doesn't much matter. We have the converter but our antenna just broke. Thank god for broadband Internet.

So I sent my husband to the video store last weekend to get Mad Men, which I'd heard was really good. And it is. I'm liking it a lot. If you don't watch it, it's about Madison Avenue advertising agencies set in 1960 NYC and the misogynistic men who run them. It's a little slow, too slow for my husband, but I'm enjoying the history lesson. My friend Alice, who is 75, watches and says it's all true to a tee. We had lunch the other day and she was telling me that it's a wonder any of them survived the 50s and into the 60s. The smoking and the drinking and the categorical disregard for women and their needs. Or any minority for that matter. She said she looks back now and is ashamed that she didn't even realize the fog they were all in (and she was one of the less foggy ones). You think about the women of the 20s , 30s and 40s with all of their spunk and gumption. They had businesses and ran families and fought for their rights and questioned authority and survived incredible hardships. Then men came back from war and the country started to prosper again and suddenly you were meant to believe that your one true ambition in life was to have babies asleep and dinner waiting for your husband every night. I would have been a miserable failure.

Then of course my mind starts jumping around and I'm thinking about women in the Islamic world today made to cover themselves entirely and sometimes denied education and generally kept way down by the moral code of the land. And I thought, is it so much different from the 50s? Maybe just more overt. In both societies, women are sexualized. In Islamic societies they are covered up presumably to protect their honor. In the 50s they were made to wear pointy bras and high heals and cinched waists to exploit them for the amusement of men. Which scenario is more or less respectful? Sure, I'd rather be wearing a Chanel suit than a burka, but you can kind of see my point.

Anyway, it just got me thinking that even though we have so much more to do to achieve equal rights in America, we have made wondrous strides. So maybe there's hope for women around the world suffering through their own version of the 50s. Time will tell.