Intertextuality and Women

Focusing on Women in the Media

Independent Woman March 31, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paige @ 8:14 pm

Lady Godiva was a freedom rider
She didn’t care if the whole world looked.
Joan of Arc, with the Lord to guide her
She was a sister who really cooked.

Isadora was the first bra burner
Ain’t ya glad she showed up. (Oh yeah)
And when the country was falling apart
Betsy Ross got it all sewed up.

And then there’s Maude.
And then there’s Maude.
And then there’s Maude.
And then there’s Maude.
And then there’s Maude.
And then there’s Maude.
And then there’s

That uncompromisin’, enterprisin’, anything but tranquilizing,
Right on Maude.

The theme song to Maude explains it all. She was a pioneer. In one of the most controversial episodes of Maude, Maude’s Dilemma Part 1 and 2 (which aired two months before Roe v. Wade) Maude was faced with an important decision. She became pregnant at the age of 47, should she keep the baby? This is the first time abortion has been mentioned on television, and the affects it had on the audience were overwhelming.  In this episode we see Carol, Maude’s daughter, tell Maude that abortion isn’t a bad word anymore. We are introduced to the idea that women have some control over their bodies now. Carol exclaims, “we’re free!” She goes on to tell her mother that there is no reason to go through with this. After discussing the pregnancy with Walter, he gives her the responsibility of making the decision. Another shift in womens independence is shown here, Maude is wearing the pants. She is the one that is able to make this decision, rather than the husband making it for her. Maude is a strong and independent women much different to the women depicted on television in the past.

The idea of female independence is also evident in two other episodes viewed in class. In the pilot episode of Alice, we see a widowed mother trying to make it on her own. Of the three women, Alice seems to be the only one with a clear head on her shoulders. She know’s what she wants, and has a good idea of how to get it. Although not as blatant as Flo, Alice has a grasp on how her sexuality can help further her role in life. Alice dreams of being a singer, and has a glimpse of opportunity when she meets a so-called agent in the diner she works at. Alice agrees to a date with this agent, only after she realizes he may have the ability to make her dreams a reality.  Alice is using her sexuality as a way to get ahead. She has a goal and a child to care for, she will do anything to make her dreams come true.

In the pilot episode of, One Day at a Time, we are introduced to the hyper liberated single-mother of two, Ann. One Day at a Time was the first show to star a divorced mother with kids. At a time when divorce rates and out of wedlock births were high, this show was perfect. Ann Romano, an Avon worker, is the quintessential liberated women. My favorite quote of this episode was when she said something along the lines of, my father made my decisions for the first seventeen years, then my husband made my decisions, now I finally get to make my own decisions. She is an independent woman, able to make her own decisions. She wants to teach that to her kids as well. After an argument with her daughter about a camping trip, Ann lets her daughter make her own decision about whether or not she should go.  Ann, is in control of her life. Although she may have trouble at times, in the end she knows what she is doing. She is dating a younger guy and knows exactly where the relationship is not going, it is not headed towards the altar.

All of these women demonstrate a step towards equality of women on television. They are independent and are able to make their own decisions and solve their problems.

I would like to include these women in my screening blog. They are all mothers raising their children in different, and sometimes questionable, ways. Although their children are being raised differently,  the mothers seem to have a firm grasp on mothering and child rearing. These women would be a perfect addition to my investigation on the portrayal of childrearing throughout television.

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2 Responses to “Independent Woman”

  1. harriss Says:

    There’s some great stuff in here. I think you will be able to incorporate these ideas into your final essay easily. I’d love to see you take the theme song discussion just a bit further.

    What we hear in this song is that the feminist movement has roots much deeper than even first wave feminism seems to account for. The references in this song really seem to drive home the notion that underpins this course–the construction of what it means to be female has been evolutionary with many people playing roles along the way.

    Your idea to isolate this by focusing on the changing images of child-rearers should provide fertile ground to explore and chart.

  2. harriss Says:

    One more note, the theme song also fits nicely into our discussions of intertextuality and its sister concept of paratextuality.


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