Category Archives: women

From ‘That Girl’ to ‘That Woman in the Arena’

I used to know three things beyond a doubt: the Berlin Wall would never fall; Nelson Mandela would never be released from his South African prison; and the USSR would never give up communism or any of their states. Yeah well, in three short years from 1989-1991 all three happened one right after another.

Glibly, I also used to say, “Oh, sure, not in my lifetime but one day a woman will be president of the United States.”

Uh huh, I was THAT naive. Or, that conditioned. But when I look back over the years, I can see the portrayal of women changing across the TV screen, helping to pave the way for the idea that a woman can be a world leader. Now, these are just the shows I watched growing up. (Yes, I know there are many other wonderful female characters that deserve recognition, too.)

1ThatGirlThe first time I remember watching an actress portraying her own woman, albeit still worried about daddy and boyfriend opinions, was Marlo Thomas as That Girl. (1966-1971)


HOWEVER, she was outclassed, in my humble 1.5NichelleNicholsasUhuruopinion, by the powerful Lt. Uhuru on Star Trek, Nichelle Nichols. A lady and an officer. (1966-1969)


2Mary Richards Desk

Soon we had the Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970 – 1977). Now, THAT was independence. “Oh, Mr. Grant!” She often held the moral highground.



Then came Maude, portrayed brilliantly by Bea Arthur. She had the audacity to not take crap from any man! (1972-1978)



Lynda Carter WAS Wonder Woman (1975 – 1979). Wait! What? A woman superhero? *boom – head exploding*


5cagney and lacey

But, no woman should ever forget the legacy of Cagney and Lacey. (1981 – 1988) Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly were tough cops doing a man’s job in a man’s world with the sense and sensibilities of women. Yes, we can!


G6The Golden GirlssBea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Betty White, and Estelle Getty were The Golden Girls, showing that female sexuality, dreams of success, and the ability to be funny doesn’t fade with age. It also reinforced the idea that friendships between women are strong, enduring long after divorces and widowhood. (1985 – 1992)

7Dana Scully The X Files


A skeptical, no-nonsense, fact chasing woman! The voice of reason, yet willing to suspend disbelief in search of the truth. She even reined in her loose cannon partner. Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully on The X Files (1993 – 2002)


8Xena and Gabrielle


Be still , my beating heart. Lucy Lawless as Xena: Warrior Princess and Renee O’Connor as Gabrielle. Their sexuality burned up the screen, as did the idea that women could be very effective warriors. (1995 – 2001)

9Captain Janeway

And finally, Kate Mulgrew as Capt. Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager set the new bar. Women could captain spaceships! And only twenty-nine years after Uhuru took her place on the bridge. Now, that’s progress. (1995 – 2001)


After 2001 I pretty much quit watching TV in order to write, so forgive me for not going forward. Buffy, Ally, The Gilmore Girls, and all the other powerful women all the way up to Agent Carter, have led up to this decisive moment. And now we are:


Sex Sells And So Does Sexism

Have you seen these vintage ads floating around? Do you find them shocking?


These ads were indicative of American society as a whole – and they were all post WWII – trying to put Rosie the Riveter back in her domesticated place. What bothers me most is that so many young women of the 21st century are buying this idea that they should be small, frail, domesticated home makers rather than taking their places in the wider world. With our male dominated society refusing to see women as anything other than a saint, or a whore, it’s up to the women to insist on being recognized as much, much more than that.

Sadly, sexist advertising has existed since long before WWII. Putting women in their place, and letting us know that we should either work harder for our man, look harder for a man, or be ashamed for being dangerous to men, were everywhere.


This recent nonsense about men/boys being discriminated against and needing a special boost up in the world is maddening. Yes, boy should be treated well so they can grow up to be the best they can be. How lucky for them that almost all discretionary funds and teacher time and attention is spent on them from 7th grade up. Idiots like Sherry and Jenny keep perpetuating this stupid idea that boys are receiving less attention than girls. Any time we focus on girls or women, we’re reminded forcefully to refocus our attention on men, as we should.

When you see a sexist ad, contact the company and complain loudly. Let’s stop this parade of self-defeatist campaigns aimed at women. If you want to help someone reach their full potential, spend time on the girls.

Ban the word bossy from your vocabulary, and refuse to let it be used on your daughters. Encourage them to participate in math, sports, science, and everything else in which they show an interest. Take them places and show them the world, let them do things, introduce them to powerful women and constantly remind them that they CAN DO IT. Time for Rosie to get back to riveting, and building, and creating more than coffee for breakfast.