What’s a Modern Girl to Do? Internet Explorer 9 or earlier. Go to the home page to see the latest top stories. When I entered college in 1969, women were bursting out of theirs 50’s chrysalis, shedding girdles, where do i see myself in 10 years college essay bras and conventions.
The Jazz Age spirit flared in the Age of Aquarius. Women were once again imitating men and acting all independent: smoking, drinking, wanting to earn money and thinking they had the right to be sexual, this time protected by the pill. I didn’t fit in with the brazen new world of hard-charging feminists. Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw. I hated the grubby, unisex jeans and no-makeup look and drugs that zoned you out, and I couldn’t understand the appeal of dances that didn’t involve touching your partner. In the universe of Eros, I longed for style and wit.
I loved the Art Deco glamour of 30’s movies. Katharine Hepburn, wearing a gold lamé gown cut on the bias, cavorting with Cary Grant, strolling along Fifth Avenue with my pet leopard. My mom would just shake her head and tell me that my idea of the 30’s was wildly romanticized. We were poor,” she’d say. We didn’t dance around in white hotel suites. I took the idealism and passion of the 60’s for granted, simply assuming we were sailing toward perfect equality with men, a utopian world at home and at work.
I didn’t listen to her when she cautioned me about the chimera of equality. On my 31st birthday, she sent me a bankbook with a modest nest egg she had saved for me. I always felt that the girls in a family should get a little more than the boys even though all are equally loved,” she wrote in a letter. They need a little cushion to fall back on. Women can stand on the Empire State Building and scream to the heavens that they are equal to men and liberated, but until they have the same anatomy, it’s a lie. It’s more of a man’s world today than ever.
Men can eat their cake in unlimited bakeries. One of you is lying. I thought the struggle for egalitarianism was a cinch, so I could leave it to my earnest sisters in black turtlenecks and Birkenstocks. I figured there was plenty of time for me to get serious later, that America would always be full of passionate and full-throated debate about the big stuff — social issues, sexual equality, civil rights. Little did I realize that the feminist revolution would have the unexpected consequence of intensifying the confusion between the sexes, leaving women in a tangle of dependence and independence as they entered the 21st century.
Maybe we should have known that the story of women’s progress would be more of a zigzag than a superhighway, that the triumph of feminism would last a nanosecond while the backlash lasted 40 years. Despite the best efforts of philosophers, politicians, historians, novelists, screenwriters, linguists, therapists, anthropologists and facilitators, men and women are still in a muddle in the boardroom, the bedroom and the Situation Room. My mom gave me three essential books on the subject of men. The first, when I was 13, was “On Becoming a Woman. The second, when I was 21, was “365 Ways to Cook Hamburger. The third, when I was 25, was “How to Catch and Hold a Man,” by Yvonne Antelle. Keep thinking of yourself as a soft, mysterious cat.
Men are fascinated by bright, shiny objects, by lots of curls, lots of hair on the head . Because I received “How to Catch and Hold a Man” at a time when we were entering the Age of Equality, I put it aside as an anachronism. After all, sometime in the 1960’s flirting went out of fashion, as did ironing boards, makeup and the idea that men needed to be “trapped” or “landed. The way to approach men, we reasoned, was forthrightly and without games, artifice or frills. Unfortunately, history has shown this to be a misguided notion. I knew it even before the 1995 publication of “The Rules,” a dating bible that encouraged women to return to prefeminist mind games by playing hard to get.
Don’t stay on the phone for more than 10 minutes. Even if you are the head of your own company. Wear black sheer pantyhose and hike up your skirt to entice the opposite sex! I knew this before fashion magazines became crowded with crinolines, bows, ruffles, leopard-skin scarves, 50’s party dresses and other sartorial equivalents of flirting and with articles like “The Return of Hard to Get. I think it behooves us to stop offering each other these pearls of feminism, to stop saying, ‘So, why don’t you call him?
Some men must have the thrill of the chase. I knew things were changing because a succession of my single girlfriends had called, sounding sheepish, to ask if they could borrow my out-of-print copy of “How to Catch and Hold a Man. Decades after the feminist movement promised equality with men, it was becoming increasingly apparent that many women would have to brush up on the venerable tricks of the trade: an absurdly charming little laugh, a pert toss of the head, an air of saucy triumph, dewy eyes and a full knowledge of music, drawing, elegant note writing and geography. It would once more be considered captivating to lie on a chaise longue, pass a lacy handkerchief across the eyelids and complain of a case of springtime giddiness.