Tuesday, January 31, 2017

MTM

I have written a few times here about Mary Tyler Moore.
I watch the Dick Van Dyke show on weekends. 
Yes, I've seen them a million times. Yes, I know the dialog. 
But it makes me happy. Just like I love Lucy does.

But my favorite as you all know is The Mary Tyler Moore show.
I have all seasons on my DVR. I watch them when there is nothing else I wish to view. I watch them over and over again. (sundance channel Friday all morning long) 

My husband asked me once why this show was so pivotal for me.
Then he asked again last week after she passed, There were many shows where woman were having conversations about about how she impacted them. It's a character he kept saying. How could that have impacted you?
Ah, but to me, a character of the likes this young woman had never seen before in 1970.

There were 2 shows for me that changed how I thought my life could be.
I knew I wanted more than what my father said I could have.
That Girl and Mary Tyler Moore. That Girl had her own apartment and had a job. She made friends in her new life and had a boyfriend and God knows great clothes. :-)  I lived vicariously through her even though I was a 10 - 15 yr during that run. Oh but I remember it so well. Her father would sneak around and watch her to be sure she was safe or "behaving" Oooh, I knew that father. As I got older that show lost something because it wasn't ringing true anymore. But I think that is about the time it went off the air. They had nowhere else to go with her and living or sleeping with Donald wasn't going to happen on TV in 1970.

As I grew up it was then Mary Tyler Moore. (14-21)
By this time I was really having a rebellious stage with my father.
To him, the only thing for a young woman to do was to be a nun or get married and pound out babies. I heard those 2 choices my whole friggin' life.  I wanted none of that. When I talked about college, he would say that he would just be paying for me to find a husband. Yes, my father was that old school, off the boat, kind of man. Backward is an understatement.

I have written here how I went to my guidance counselor about college and what my chosen profession would be. I was so excited about how it matched the results of the test the guidance counselor had given me. My parents were called in and I had to listen to how I couldn't do this as a female from my parents and this ass of a guidance counselor.  My father "put his foot down" and refused to pay for college if this is what I would be wasting his money on. My step mom sat there and went along with him. To this day I can't wrap my head around that since she was only 14 yrs older than me. Why didn't she speak up and help me, my mom would have! I digress. 

Mary Tyler Moore was doing something I wished to be doing. Working in a predominately male field, living on her own, succeeding and wearing pants. Hell, when this show was on television we couldn't even wear pants to high school.
So when my husband said why is that a big deal I realized he doesn't understand because he is a white male. He has never had to defend how smart he is, how hard of a worker he is, how much he can do the job, never was treated less than because of his gender, or even was doubted for one minute that he was capable. He was never told a job he may have wanted was not appropriate for him because it wasn't on the list of what he was allowed to do by society. Even back then my mom had a gay hairdresser. He was able to do what he wanted. (I am sure he suffered in other ways but being male he was surely able to do hair which was a job my father thought was for women) Never would it occur to him that he couldn't do whatever he wanted to do in life, period. (job wise) He has never had to fight for the same amount of money as his peers, he was probably leading the charge in that area.

There is an episode where Mary finds out that a male counterpart is making $50 more dollars a week than she is. 
($320 is what that equals to today)
She asks Mr. Grant and he calmly tells her, "Well of course he is, he is a man" Exasperated she says, she has the same bills to pay, the same car to drive, insure etc. But he kept saying, "but you're a woman"
I again pointed out to Rick that at that time for that to be put out there in the universe was a damn big deal. Like listening to Archie Bunker talk about his racist views were a damn big deal. It got people talking, it got things changed. It wasn't fair or right. It needed to be discussed. They showed it with humor but boy it drove the point home.
It made me stand up to my father. That is why she was important to me, even though she wasn't even real.

Rick asked this question to me last week.
This morning over coffee he tells me that he was taken aback by my comment about never had to prove himself. He has been thinking about that a lot. He said he never thought of it in that way. Rick told me his first thought was, "I always have to prove myself. Then I realize it was to one up another guy and get the job (or to beat another white guy as you'd say). So I get what you mean now."
Rick feels he's very empathetic to others and their situations. (he is) But not having lived it does make it different, just like when we talk about adoption. He said, "you always tell me you can understand it only to a point but never fully because this is not your life or was your path. I get it now."

In my former career, Rick was my biggest cheerleader. Each promotion or award was a big deal to him as well as myself. He was always "atta girl" I couldn't be married to anyone who would give me less. But every once in a while it's fascinating to hear him talk about what he doesn't see if he is being honest. 
On a side note, The MTM show showed feminism without what I refer to as the screaming meanies. She was proud, point being made, not giving up and showing up. The loud ones tend to put people off, but they get things done! This show did it with humor and kindness all while pointing the fingers at the absurdities of how women are treated less than. We needed both styles at that time. Well we still do! 

I get the male pressure thing that I have learned from him over the years.
I didn't live it and over time when it frustrates me he has taught me how men are programmed as little boys. I get it we all have our shit.
But I told him that while they are programmed I still feel like they aren't so limited. They are allowed to shoot for the stars and the sky, they just can't cry.
:-)

5 comments:

bikinfool said...

My one claim to near fame - MTM and my father-in-law were first cousins. So my F-I-l's mother and Mary's mother were sisters. I never met Mary, but my wife has. We even got a wedding present from her back in the day. Even got a phone call from her when my mother in law died. Unfortunately we weren't home and it was just her voice on the answering machine, but hell, at one point she had my phone number!

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Brian - Cool!! I always had a feeling she was sad. You know the sad clown thing. She was funny as hell and always had a big smile but inside I think she was sad. Just my feeling.

bikinfool said...

I agree on the sadness. I think it stems from her sons death. Don't think she ever really recovered from that.

Julie H said...

Great post! My mom has told me some things that she experienced in that world too. I have not had to fight as much as you women have. Thanks for paving the way :)

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Brian - aah geez that is sad.

Julie - you're welcome. I am a card-carrying feminist. We should all have equal rights.