I am a feminist. I’ve been a feminist since the early 60s. In thought and spirit I was right there in the trenches along with Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan. However, in truth, as a young woman with two young daughters to care for and a husband who was still completing a university degree, the best I could do was read Ms. Magazine and dream of equal opportunities for women.
In high school Home Economics Class I learned to iron shirts properly, to wear white gloves to important functions, and to make rice pudding that a man would love me for. My parents, like most parents of the 50s, encouraged me to become either a teacher, a nurse, or a secretary. The understanding was that by 18 or 19 I would be engaged to be married, my interim career would be left far behind, and from that time I would happily devote myself to my husband and children. In truth, I was miserable in that role. In marriage I became a one-dimensional caregiver. Period.
Today at 75, how I wish I could hit that rewind button. I want to be a young female growing up right now. The women’s movement of my generation gave their daughters "wings to fly." However, it’s those daughters that are now making incredible strides in nurturing their young girls. They have something we didn’t have. They have cyberspace and email and blogs and the wonderful opportunity to connect with and support other moms. On any one day, constructive ideas, positive role models and strong images fairly fly from computer to computer to computer. We are seeing them. Our daughters are seeing them. Our granddaughters are seeing them. And, one by one by one, we are helping to produce a new generation of ‘fierce young women’ who are anything but one-dimensional.
All of this takes me to a series of viral videos from an ad campaign produced by Gillette Venus called, "UseYourAnd." Their objective is to have females see themselves as a series of "ands," for each young woman to celebrate their unique multi-dimensional selves, and to reach their true potential. Yes, there are lots of clean shaven legs within the series; after all, it is being produced by a company whose goal it is to sell women’s razors. However, I found that fact inconsequential. I loved the words, I loved the images, and I adored the complete concept. In fact, the first viewing of "UseYourAnd" found me sitting in front of my computer shedding a few sweet tears.
Above is a photo of me in a hotel dining room in the early 60s wearing the prerequisite white gloves and pearls society requested of me. I was a limited one-dimensional pretty young wife who could only dream of being an astronaut, a boxer, or a pilot.
Now please watch this "UseYourAnd" video. Once you are done you will probably understand why I wish I could hit life’s rewind button and do it all over again. If you are a grandmother who grew up in the 40s and 50s you might possibly feel the same way, too.