Search This Blog

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Where are you now, Mary Richards? or Sitcoms, Role Models, and the Election

I voted today. We'll be returning from a visit to DC on the 6th and didn't want to risk getting in after the polls closed. Prior to voting, I spent a lot of time looking over the candidates websites and voting records. The effort got me reminiscing about television sitcoms that helped my generation define ourselves. Yes, the subjects of sitcoms and the election are related. How? I'm glad you asked.

I'm at the tail end of the baby-boom generation, so I wasn't among those women who broke down walls. I reaped the benefits of their fight for equality and them demonstrating that women were equally competent (if not more) than men in the workplace. By the time I hit my teens, girls knew we could be anything we wanted to be. Women were in the military, and the first female cadets had entered the military academies. Women were running businesses, representing us in Congress, and challenging (and beating) men in sports (shout out to Billy Jean King!)

At that same time, sitcoms moved women from the kitchen (in a dress wearing heels and pearls, a la June Cleaver) to the newsroom with Mary Richards in the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Sure, Mary had been Rob Petry's wife on the Dick Van Dyke show in the 60s, but by the 70s, she'd moved on to the "big city" (Minneapolis) to "make it on her own." She was a single woman in her 30s with a career.She wasn't widowed or divorced or seeking a man to support her.

Mary Richards was what the women before me had worked so hard for, and had achieved. She was part of my generation's world view: women go to college, have careers, move away from home to pursue their own interests. They meet life on their terms and conquer the world without a man. Once a woman is a whole person in her own right, well, then, if she meets the right person, she can have a relationship, spouse, and family too. But it isn't a prerequisite of happiness.

We also had Maude, Edith Bunker's outspoken, middle-aged, politically liberal cousin to show us what women are capable of. Even our 1950s girls, Laverne and Shirley, were independent, sharing an apartment, working in Schottz's brewery, and always scheming ways to get rich.

In the 80s, we had Murphy Brown, a sharp-witted, sarcastic investigative journalist who was also a recovering alcoholic. Candace Bergen's Murphy Brown gave us an older, more world-wise and world-weary role model than the ever-perky Mary Richards. She was a 40-something woman who had made it in a man's world. She showed us that it could be done. The show's political satire maybe cut too close to home for some, and when Murphy decided to become a single-mom after becoming pregnant by her ex-husband, Dan Quayle decried the country's falling morals all because of Murphy's choice to raise a child alone. Sadly, Republican's are still blaming single moms for the country's problems. 

I don't know what happened while I was off pursuing my own education and career, but when I finally had a few minutes to watch TV, I found women's role models had devolved. Instead of women struggling with work-homelife balance, fighting for equal opportunities, or continuing the fight for equal pay, and instead of strong women determined to live life on their own terms first, we had Ally McBeal, a twenty-something, airhead who could NEVER have passed a bar exam anywhere, ever. Somehow she became a lawyer who obsessively fantasized about meeting Prince Charming and having a baby. Her strategy to accomplish that? Wear the shortest skirts she could get away with on prime time television and act ditzy. 

The de-evolution didn't stop there and we can only hope that we're at the very bottom of this sad trajectory for women in television. Now we have reality TV where women fight to find a husband in 10-easy episodes on The Bachelor, where Snooki struts her illiterate brand of stupidity and slutiness on the Jersey Shore, and where Teen Moms get their own show. We're back to being objectified and shown as mere "arm-candy" and gold-diggers. These women's and girl's lives are defined by having a man, not by having a brain or an identity or even a personality. They don't want to accomplish anything by themselves or for themselves. They're just there to please a man; any man will do.

With shows like this, is it any wonder that teens and women in their 20s and 30s don't have a clue why women of my age and older are so upset with the current political climate? All those hard-won gains at becoming people, rather than just some man's posession, are trickling away. That trickle will become a torrent if the GOP wins the presidency or control of either the House or Senate in the upcoming election.

"Feminist" isn't a dirty word and it isn't a euphemism for lesbian. The Feminist movement is the reason young women today can go to a bar with their friends and not be branded sluts (but stick with the GOP and you'll lose that right, just ask Rush Limbaugh). The Women's Right's movement is the reason we can be more than just secretaries--we can be scientists, engineers, business owners,astronauts, congresswomen, or even President because women who are 10, 15, 20 years older-than me--and more, back to the suffragettes of the early 1900s--fought for us to have those abilities.

We're in danger of losing so many rights, and much more. We're in danger of losing self-respect, self-determination, dignity, and the right to say NO. Sitcoms may appear to be a bit of fluff given the serious problems our country faces. But right now, they seem to be a harbinger that we're heading in a very wrong, very dangerous direction. Imagine a world where Snooki is considered a woman's role model. Imagine a that we could have in just a few weeks....where you can't say NO; where rape is "just another form of conception (1)" and it must be "God's will (2)," and if it's "legitimate rape" (3) (I guess that's the kind these men thing some women "deserve" or "ask for"because "some girls rape easily. (4)" [Just an aside to fathers and mothers who might be ill-advisedly considering voting Republican this year, notice, they don't even stop at adults, this moron from Wisconsin is talking about raping girls. Does he have experience with that? Sure sounds like it. Do you really want who condones raping girls because it's easy representing you in Congress?!?]

This election is hugely important for all women, and for our daughters, granddaughters, and nieces The voting booth booth is the one place where even those women who have been dominated, subjugated, bullied, belittled, or just made to feel less-than-equal by men in their lives can exert their equality and their independence. (I know it happens 'cause I've been there--supporting his side to win favor. It doesn't help, just makes him push for more!) Don't be intimidated or threatened. Don't let this election be the one future generations of females look at and say, "that's when we became less than human."

Go watch a few episodes of Mary Tyler Moore, Murphy Brown, Maude, or even Laverne and Shirley, and then go vote. VOTE to keep our ability to choose our own lives, whether that is as a housewife, a mother, a career woman, or all of these. Our lives should be our choice, not something predetermined by men. VOTE!

(1) Paul Ryan, GOP vice-presidential candidate, August 24, 2012
(2) Richard Mourdock, Indiana Tea Party senate candidate, October 24, 2012
(3) Todd Akin, Republican congressman and current senate candidate from Missouri, August 19, 2012
(4) Roger Rivard, Wisconsin GOP state senator, October 10, 2012





Sunday, October 14, 2012

Just Braggin' on My Dog

Let me apologize in advance to all you readers who thought you had the cutest, coolest, best dog in the world...I can't let you go on holding that delusion any longer because the fact of the matter is, you don't. I do.
Muggle (Photo by Matt Drobnik)
Yes. Look upon my doggy's divine countenance and weep, for no matter how adorably, loveable, cuddly ALL dogs are (I really have never met one that wasn't cute), Muggle is the awesome-est and cutest!

Many of you may know Muggle's story, but if you don't, you can go to his website, The Muggle Chronicles, and read about his--and our--amazing journey from discarded, to rescued, to agility dog.

Some of the things that make Muggle one-of-a-kind:

1.  He doesn't run to greet us at the door. When we come home, he maintains his dignity (and his spot on the sofa) and gives us a Joey Tribbiani nod of the head: "how you doin,'" and patiently waits for us to come over and pet him. He has a bit of Eey-ore in him about the whole enthusiasm thing. Most dogs are excited to be invited onto the sofa, chair, bed, car...not Muggle. He'll slowly inch his way to the seat, look up through his eyebrows and sigh, then slowly lug himself up alongside you. "If I have to...."

"How you doin'?"
2.  He's neat and orderly. I'm not, so I figure this is a good thing. Muggle has upstairs toys and downstairs toys and gets absolutely neurotic if they're out of place. He'll pace and fret over his toys, poking his nose into the basket and under furniture until he's certain something is missing, then he'll rescue it and return it to its rightful place.

Looking intense through the tire (Photo by Matt Drobnik)
3.  He talks to us. If you've ever seen Muggle run agility, you know he's a talker. He grunts and growls, and snarls and snarks the whole way through the course. Today, I found out that could be me. When I give him clear directions, he gets quieter. I did see something similar when Matt ran him and did some incorrect handler motion--Muggle would turn around and give him what-for before doing what he was supposed to do. But, he'd still do the right thing. That could explain how we've gotten as far in agility as we have. Because of Muggle, not me. I know he far outperforms me in the ring.

4. He's a grandstander. As Ginger said, he is my dog. He does well when he has an audience. He doesn't do particularly well at agility class, or when we practice. But put him on a course at a trial, with an audience, and Muggle will do things I'm positive we haven't learned, trained, practiced, and certainly shouldn't be able to do given how much (or little) we actually do train and practice! And he only does that when he has an audience! Imagine what a little more effort (on my part) could produce?

Eey-ore says, "I won some ribbons, oh well..."
5. He's OCD in a really funny way. Aside from the toys being in their right place, Muggle is a schedule- and routine-driven dog. He likes things to occur in the same way, all the time, every time. So, when 9:30 p.m. roles around, he likes me to head upstairs and get ready for bed. He waits patiently through my part of the routine, knowing the last thing I do before crawling under the covers is give him a biscuit. Then, he's like a machine: eat, get a drink of water, get the gator (his squeaky toy), and come into bed. He plays with gator for 5 minutes, then lays down between me and Matt while we watch TV or read. When Matt turns out his bedside light, Muggle goes downstairs (we have stairs for him to get on/off the bed) and into his crate. At that point, he gets really anal about his schedule. It is now BEDTIME. We do not mess with bedtime. If Matt or I talk after Matt's light goes out (I can still be up reading with the light on, doesn't matter, it's all about the Alpha-Matt) Muggle dives us a "grrrfffff." He's the chaperone. There is no talking, kissing, or moving after Matt's light goes out. Sometimes we make kissy noises just to mess with the dog. Poor Muggle goes crazy and runs back up the stairs into the middle of the bed to get between us and break it up.

He's pretty darn funny. And adorable. And when he gets to the agility field and knows he gets to run, he gets excited and happy. Regardless of ribbons or Qs, there isn't anything as wonderful for me as the look of sheer bliss on his face when Muggle and I are running together:

Just happy to be out playing with me!! (Photo by Matt Drobnik)
Muggle is keeping guard over me right now as I work at my computer. He stares out the window and lets me know when strangers walk by across the street. I think he might also be looking our for "the biscuit lady" and "the biscuit man." A couple who live in the neighborhood carry biscuits when she goes for her morning walk and he for his run. Muggle has learned to time our walks to their routine. On a good day, he can meet Joanne once on her walk and Michael twice on his run.

He's a funny, funny dog.

While I am truly sorry that you can't have the cutest or funniest dog out there since he's mine, I know every one of our pets have their own unique qualities and, while not THE cutest, rhey're all pretty darn cute too. What makes your pet the best?

Muggle with his best-bud, Dagan, getting ready to root for their team.

December 5, 2009. The first photo we saw of Muggle...and decided to adopt him.
Dec. 12, 2009. Muggle's first night with us...after some grooming and neutering.
Looks like a completely different dog, doesn't he? And completely different from what he looks like now, too!