Saturday, April 14, 2007
When this song was sung there were some states where it was illegal for a doctor to prescribe birth control to married women, much less single women who shouldn't be having sex. So you have this lovely Leslie declaring a sense of control that was pure fantasy at the time. The year this song was sung Betty Freidan wrote The Feminine Mystique, which started to articulate the angst that led to the modern feminist movement. This song seems to rage against everything that a woman had to face in the stifling 1950s and early sixties. Somewhere the angst about being forced into the role of mother got confused with the devaluation of motherhood in favor of career and freedom. To my mind feminism should mean that women have a free choice to pick what they want to do in life even if it means wanting motherhood. As a feminist, I was disappointed to learn that feminists ignored the complaints of birth mothers who were forced to relinquish their children for adoption, since it was thought at the time that motherhood was more a burden. Relinquishment was seen as some sort of freedom. At this time, women who found themselves pregnant out-of-wedlock would be whisked away to maternity homes throughout the country. They were told that if anyone found out about their shameful little secret that no man would ever want them -- many of them look very much like our lovely Leslie Gore.