October 21, 2004

That 60s mindset.

"No More Miss America!" -- first mentioned in the previous post -- really is quite a fascinating screed, a nice window into the 1960s.
On September 7th [1968] in Atlantic City, the Annual Miss America Pageant will again crown "your ideal." But this year, reality will liberate the contest auction-block in the guise of "genyooine" de-plasticized, breathing women. Women's Liberation Groups, black women, high-school and college women, women’s peace groups, women's welfare and social-work groups, women's job-equality groups, pro-birth control and pro-abortion groups- women of every political persuasion- all are invited to join us in a day-long boardwalk-theater event, starting at 1:00 p.m. on the Boardwalk in front of Atlantic City's Convention Hall. We will protest the image of Miss America, an image that oppresses women in every area in which it purports to represent us.
Back in 1968—back before John Lennon came up with the Plastic Ono Band -- one really did worry about being "plastic." The one word everyone remembered from the 1967 film "The Graduate" was "plastics." Everyone understood why it was so ridiculous for an old man to advise a young man to enter the field of plastic. Frank Zappa was singing to us in 1967, "Plastic people! Oh, baby now, you're such a drag!" The idea that the new generation was going to permanently de-plasticize the human race felt quite real and important.

And note that back in 1968, groups that favored abortion rights went ahead and labeled themselves "pro-abortion."
There will be: Picket Lines; Guerrilla Theater; Leafleting; Lobbying Visits to the contestants urging our sisters to reject the Pageant Farce and join us; a huge Freedom Trash Can (into which we will throw bras, girdles, curlers, false eyelashes, wigs, and representative issues of Cosmopolitan, Ladies' Home Journal, Family Circle, etc.- bring any such woman-garbage you have around the house); we will also announce a Boycott of all those commercial products related to the Pageant, and the day will end with a Women's Liberation rally at midnight when Miss America is crowned on live television. Lots of other surprises are being planned (come and add your own!) but we do not plan heavy disruptive tactics and so do not expect a bad police scene. It should be a groovy day on the Boardwalk in the sun with our sisters. In case of arrests, however, we plan to reject all male authority and demand to be busted by policewomen only. (In Atlantic City, women cops are not permitted to make arrests -- dig that!)
So this was all back before the word "Liberation" was excised from the term "Women's Movement." It fell within that short span of time when people used the word "groovy" nonjocosely.

"Bad scene" was a trendy slang expression of the time. And if you were arrested, it was always "busted." And note: "dig that."
Male chauvinist-reactionaries on this issue had best stay away, nor are male liberals welcome in the demonstrations. But sympathetic men can donate money as well as cars and drivers.

Male reporters will be refused interviews. We reject patronizing reportage. Only newswomen will be recognized.
I tend to think that much of this, like the "demand to be busted by policewomen only," was a pretty effective way to send a message about what was very real employment discrimination at the time. I remember reading "Help Wanted—Male"/"Help Wanted—Female" classified ads at the in the newspaper, and I had an English teacher in high school who informed my class that women could not be TV or radio announcers because of their unacceptable voices.

Next comes a list of ten points of protest, including the one that appears in my previous post. I'll just call attention to a couple more:
The Consumer Con-Game. Miss America is a walking commercial for the Pageant's sponsors. Wind her up and she plugs your product on promotion tours and TV--all in an "honest, objective" endorsement. What a shill.
This really displays a sort of hippie mentality that one still finds in the wit and wisdom of Ralph Nader. What exactly was so wrong with—gasp!--products? You were supposed to already understand that was was part of what made you plastic!
Competition Rigged and Unrigged. We deplore the encouragement of an American myth that oppresses men as well as women: the win-or-you’re-worthless competitive disease. The "beauty contest" creates only one winner to be "used" and forty-nine losers who are "useless."
We know how this idea played out in the culture: let's boost everyone's "self-esteem" with games where everybody wins. I think in 1968, it really was possible to think that people, en masse, were going to "drop out" of the evil, competitive world of commerce. Maybe a nice little life of subsistence farming on a commune -- what do you say?

1968 was really happening.

UPDATE: Speaking of 1968, I was just following an Instapundit link to ReasonOnline's "Who's Getting Your Vote? Reason’s revealing presidential poll," and I ran across this, from P.J. O'Rourke:
Most embarrassing vote: A 1968 write-in for "Chairman Meow," my girlfriend’s cat. It seemed very funny at the time. As I mentioned, this was 1968.
Exactly.

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