Vintage ads, feminism and a lesbian

WARNING: A rant or two

A few days ago, I tripped over some vintage ads which reminded me that I hadn’t thought much about women, society, roles. So I thought a bit about it.

And while thinking, I was interrupted by the mediatainment story about Mel Gibson’s hateful tirade against his now ex-partner who’s also the mother of one of his many children. Wow. He hates everyone, including women.

But back to women’s place in society.

There’s a bad F word out there. Not the F-bomb word. The other F word that gets snickers in one corner, raised hackles in another, indignant snorts from the third and bewildered blinks in the fourth. Feminism.

If you want to learn more, there’s a fair amount about the history in Wikipedia or many university sites. But for the purpose of this post, here’s a distilled definition: feminism is a belief that advocates equal rights for women. Rights means legal, economic, cultural, social, political, and the entire realm of human rights. And equal to means equal to men.

Like every other ‘ism’ on the planet, feminism as a term has been misused and misrepresented or co-opted, appropriated.

The doctrine of equal rights spawned a political movement that today is very hard to find outside of a university setting or women’s collectives. As a political movement, feminism has become lost in translation, lost in space, or lost due to apathy, women’s studies courses notwithstanding.

Feminism and feminist have become epithets thrown at women to shut us up. Dirty words meant to discount, discredit, silence. Goddess knows if you are a feminist, that means what? You hate housework? You disagree with the double standards by which women are judged, even by other women? You disagree that a woman taking a year off to have a child should be allowed to come back to her pre-pregnancy job?

What does being a feminist mean? That you deplore female circumcision, honour killings, gestational gender selection? That you wonder why women are still making 77 cents to a man’s dollar for the same work? You disagree it’s ok for women to beaten when they don’t bring home clean water in a drought-ridden country? Or that you know women are not anywhere near represented in the higher positions of government, education, the arts, food, finance and business? You question economic policies because of their impact on women? What? What is it about feminism and being a feminist that’s so offensive? You disagree that women are responsible for man’s fall from grace? You (gasp!) challenge the status quo?

Oh WAIT! If you’re a feminist, then you must hate men and if you hate men then you must be….a LESBIAN!  That’s right. I read that lesbians had infiltrated the feminist movement (like cute little cat burglars) and rather than be associated with free-lovin’ lesbians, most women joined more friendly organizations, like REAL women, and said that everything is all okay, women are equal to men now.  Well, there are plenty of women that hate men AND hate women and are neither feminist nor lesbian. They are just grumpy: no need to use a perfectly good F word on them.


I was visiting a lesbian website and on the website is a poll asking the question, Why do you like other women and cross my heart, no word of a lie,  one of the responses that readers can choose is this: “because I am a feminist”.  Seriously??

I’m having trouble grokking that response. I am a lesbian because intellectually, emotionally, sexually and any other way you care to slice it, loving a woman is the most natural thing in the world to me and because I am a woman, that makes me a lesbian. If anyone ever shared with me that they are “a lesbian because I am a feminist…” I might have furrowed my brows, tilted my head poodle-like, and pulled out of my little purse the red soccer card (which for American readers means: booted off of the field and out of the game for a while) and looked for a REAL lesbian to have dinner with.

Lest you think I am kidding: 10 per cent chose that reason.

Back to main point:

Feminism and feminist are terms that few women today, specially those in business, use to describe their belief or politics and for those that do —  artists,  performers, academics, students, radicals, women over 55 and a ragtag group of people who got stuck in the years 1967 – 1978 — it sounds like they use it to mark their territory, not engage in dialogue.

I look forward to a future of no ‘ism’; where an accident of birth along the spectrum of male to female does not define a life trajectory. I look forward to the day of total and absolute equal rights, access and opportunity available to everyone who wants it. Until that time, here is a smattering of some ads. And maybe you can tell me what has truly changed.


Aren’t 14-year olds in LA getting breast implants, lip injections and botox?

the answer is YES

Oh, grrrrrr.

Thanks be to Shakespeare. Please. Tame me like a Subaru GL Coupe.

When kink was mainstream, all dressed up and stayed at home??

cuz we’re weak don’tchya know

About FS

Toronto, Canada. Writing about slices of life, the moments and minor details of which come into awareness or out of imagination and the spaces inbetween. On hiatus from writing anywhere else but here ... at least for now.
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5 Responses to Vintage ads, feminism and a lesbian

  1. What a world we live in. All a girl has to do is suggest the notion women deserve an alternative to being baby-making domestic slaves, and right away she’s labeled an angry man-hating lesbian.

    Well, at least we haven’t lost the war.

    For the record, I ain’t no Subaru. I’m a %$^#ing Ferrari!

    • Frances says:

      Dear PWP: indeed: what a world we live in, that any war is necessary. I’m all for Ferrari, Formula 1 AND the Gumball Rally. But I NEVER understood why women, ships, boats, planes, trains — all modes of transportation — are female, unless of course, it’s an acknowledgement that in truth, nothing moves from here to there in any substantive way without a woman. Although the Rhianna song, “Shut up and Drive” (speaking of Ferrari) suggests to me I might be taking a leap: it is hardly that philosophical.

  2. finding my way says:

    You always cover your subjects so well…. Just saying, great job, I so agree and thank you…. start to seem a bit redundant. I haven’t missed one of them and a few are forever assigned to my favorites file! Change has occurred…. ….. and those adds didn’t seem ridiculous, except to a few!

    But, not enough, we have to continue this fight for total equality in every aspect of life and for everyone! Perhaps, we just have to do it without descriptive titles that can be transformed by anyone, group or thing that has the influence?


    Oooooooo, sorry…neglected 2 mention that i luv your “representative” ads 😉


    Feminism…besides having been “misused, misrepresented, and co-opted” as u correctly note…has been HIJACKED by those, who wish nothing more, than to use the term AGAINST women…

    Feminism ranks right up there, with the more noble causes world-wide…

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