Presentation Title

Thank You for Being a Friend: How The Golden Girls Shaped American Feminism

Author(s)

Susan IsaacFollow

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Keywords

feminism, Golden Girls, societal "other"

Major

American Studies (Graduate)

Abstract

For the teenagers sitting in my classroom, however, being a feminist is not about equal pay, social rights, or unrealistic body image; for the teenagers sitting in my classroom, being a feminist is both antiquated and comical. They have fallen into the trap of American stereotypes of feminism (though it is not uniquely American), believing that feminists are the man-hating, black-boot-wearing, bra-rejecting, make-up-shunning, constantly-arguing lesbian zealots portrayed in the movies and television shows they watch. The Golden Girls may be remembered as four women who ate cheesecake and shared funny stories, but they were more than that―they were our mothers, our grandmothers, our selves. Their struggles and flaws were easily recognizable for us, thus allowing our political guards down as they led us through some very sensitive issues, issues that were not only about owning one’s sexual identity, but about equality for everyone. That’s what my students―and shows like Sex and the City―lack in their understanding of feminism. By examining the history of the show, the characters, and specific episodes, I hope to show how The Golden Girls gave us an example of a feminism that is not about women usurping something from men or being sexually promiscuous. It’s about the need to acknowledge the humanity of all the marginalized “others,” and to bring to light the injustices served them by the mainstream, whoever it may be.

Faculty Mentor

Dana Dudley

Presentation Session

Session D

Location

Plaza Classroom 191

Start Date

1-4-2016 5:00 PM

End Date

1-4-2016 5:15 PM

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Apr 1st, 5:00 PM Apr 1st, 5:15 PM

Thank You for Being a Friend: How The Golden Girls Shaped American Feminism

Plaza Classroom 191

For the teenagers sitting in my classroom, however, being a feminist is not about equal pay, social rights, or unrealistic body image; for the teenagers sitting in my classroom, being a feminist is both antiquated and comical. They have fallen into the trap of American stereotypes of feminism (though it is not uniquely American), believing that feminists are the man-hating, black-boot-wearing, bra-rejecting, make-up-shunning, constantly-arguing lesbian zealots portrayed in the movies and television shows they watch. The Golden Girls may be remembered as four women who ate cheesecake and shared funny stories, but they were more than that―they were our mothers, our grandmothers, our selves. Their struggles and flaws were easily recognizable for us, thus allowing our political guards down as they led us through some very sensitive issues, issues that were not only about owning one’s sexual identity, but about equality for everyone. That’s what my students―and shows like Sex and the City―lack in their understanding of feminism. By examining the history of the show, the characters, and specific episodes, I hope to show how The Golden Girls gave us an example of a feminism that is not about women usurping something from men or being sexually promiscuous. It’s about the need to acknowledge the humanity of all the marginalized “others,” and to bring to light the injustices served them by the mainstream, whoever it may be.