Tuesday, February 19, 2008


This is the cover of my Life magazine from 1970:

life 1970 cover

I am Woman, hear me rowrr! I must say I have been grossly misinformed about the fugliness of 1970s women's libbers.

And what a difference fourteen years can make. Compare our covergirl with Miss Pepsi from yesterday's post; gone is the New Look wasp-waisted black cocktail dress, heels and pearls. Now it's jeans, a vinyl belt, a hippie bag and a rayon shirt that probably breathed about as well as the Elephant Man.

Inside there are photos of marchers that couldn't be more evocative:

life 1970 march

All hail the Parade of Flares and Afros! According to the caption, the movement wanted both free abortion and free childcare... although I would think if they got either one the need for the other would become somewhat less pressing.

The article itself is unfortunately rather dull, simply listing the inequalities that women faced, along with some dry commentary. There is also a portrait of feminist author Kate Millett, which does little more than prove that fame is fleeting: apparently in 1970 she was a household name - the unquestioned queen of Women's Liberation - but her notoriety has long since been eclipsed by other, more media savvy feminists.

Within the rest of the magazine lies proof that Women's Liberation was actually needed - the advertisements are all for high end cameras, cutting edge stereo equipment, expensive watches, travel, alcohol and cigarettes: it's like the Playboy lifestyle without the naked ladies. It's also about as subtle as a Playboy centerfold. There are no chatty sailors or planets with straw boaters here. The ad for beer shows a bottle of beer. The ad for reel-to-reel tape decks shows a reel-to-reel tape deck. Ads for pens and watches show pens and watches... and little else. It's almost as if the advertising agencies were being run by bitter, disillusioned marxists: "You want to buy your wretched middle-class whiskey and cameras? Well, here are some big-ass pictures of them! Happy now? Enjoy them if you can, capitalist pigs!"


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