This writer was a child of the 1950′s, reaching adulthood in the turbulent days of the late 1960′s and early 1970′s. A cursory glance may leave the impression that the world has changed dramatically. Recent events leave me questioning just how illusory that change may be.
As a young adult I was fascinated with a ground breaking comedic TV program. The program aired on CBS in 1971. “ALL IN THE FAMILY“ was a huge critical success, ranking as the number 1 show in America from 1971 to 1976, the first show ever to hold a number 1 ranking for 5 straight years.
The show was brillantly cast and written. Carroll O’Conner and Jean Stapleton, both lifelong liberal Democrats, were cast as the lead characters, Archie and Edith Bunker. The Bunker’s were meant to represent white, working class Americans of that day. The critics of the day referred to Archie as a “LOVABLE BIGOT”, two words rarely associated with each other today.
Archie, the bigot, was prejudiced against everything and everyone not in agreement with his view of the world. He was a sexist and a racist.
Fans of the the show will remember how frequently Archie told Edith to “stifle herself”. Whenever Edith expressed a view contrary to one held by Archie she was told to “stifle yourself”. Archie regularly reminded Edith that ” a woman’s place was in the home”. Edith knew she would ”vote for” political candidates selected by Archie. Edith – as a woman - was assumed to be of lesser intelligence. Edith played a very differential role to the “Man of the House”. If it were not for the fact that Archie clearly loved Edith very much, it would have been impossible to find the “bigot” lovable.
After 50 years of positive cultural change, I though we might be living in a better world.
When my mother left home in the 1960’s to go to work, it was not because she wanted a career. She needed to feed and support her family. Her alcoholic husband could not keep a job.
I won’t forget that the work place of that day was dominated by men. Woman were denied access to jobs or equal pay solely because of gender. Despite the hurdles my Mother came to enjoy her “career” as a cleaning woman and later as a bus driver. She always loved being a Mother best of all.
I’m proud of my Mother and her generation. Without her sacrifice and the sacrifice of millions of other woman we would not have had a Hiliary Clinton running as a Presidential Candidate nor would we have Sarah Palin as a Vice-Presidential candidate today. These woman were clearly raised to believe in themselves and their unlimited potential – that a woman can do anything and aspire to any position.
It is maddening, that at this historical moment, sexism, bigotry and intolerance return in the form of the Democratic party and its minions. A party that claims to a champion of all human rights, including those of woman, is really the Party of intolerance.
Only a bigot would suggest that since Governor Palin is a mother of 5, she should know her “place is in the home” and not in public service. That she should “go home and care for her kids”. I’m shocked to hear purported liberals and leading members of the Democratic Party denigrating the Governor’s accomplishments and dismissing her intelligence because of her gender. I hear Archie yelling ”stifle yourself Edith” echoing from a darker past.
This sexism and bigotry, like Archie’s, is rooted in intolerance. Intolerance not just of gender and race but of beliefs. An intolerance or prejudice against anyone who fails to share the bigots view of the world.
This cannot be allowed to stand. Intolerance and bigotry are evil. They must be beaten down and cannot be tolerated.
My granddaughters will not grow up in a world where they are told their place is in the home, that they must decide between family and career, or that they are less qualified because of their gender. My granddaughters will not be shouted down because they hold either conservative or liberal views. I do not want a world where those with opposing views are shouted down and denied a chance to speak, where personal attacks, lies and innuendo are used to mask bigotry.