Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Part II of the previous post

There's this incredible scene from an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show that completely addresses all of this. The episode begins with Mr. Grant, Mary's bosses, discreetly sussing out if she'd be interested in his job upon his promotion. She blows it, fails to "lean in," as it were. Back home, she discusses this with her friends Rhoda and Phyllis. Rhoda, also single and with a career, and Phyllis, a housewife, disagree (sort of) about what Mary should do, but not in the manner you'd expect. Phyllis insists that Mary go after the promotion, and that she do so for all womankind. She offers up a very 2013 - and startlingly non-Phyllis-like in its reasonableness - feminist manifesto. Rhoda, however, has a different take. She advises Mary to find a rich and good-looking husband, to marry him, to have his baby, and then to blame him when she doesn't have a successful career.

To capture Rhoda's tone here, though, you kind of need to have seen the show, because "sarcasm" doesn't begin to cover it. Earlier in the episode, when Phyllis insists there's no job a man is more suited to than a woman, Rhoda responds - with impeccable timing - that there is such a job: "female impersonator."

And then, sigh, Mary goes back into work, decides she does want the job, but by then Mr. Grant has already given it to Murray. Mary asks if this was because she'd said she didn't want it, he says no. She asks if it's because she's a woman. He says yes. As text, you might think, whoa, Mr. Grant, such a 1970s throwback sexist! But as performed, you can perfectly well see that he wanted to offer Mary the job, but that her socialization as a woman prevented her from taking it while it was still there for the taking. So it is, in a sense, because she's a woman that she doesn't get the job.

Expect more such profundity from WWPD now that workouts are Hulu-compatible.

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