Maybe the radical feminists deserve a little pity, or at least a bit of tea and sympathy. Some of them are still living among "Mad Men."
That fictional television soap opera of the manners and mores of Madison Avenue in the 1960s ended its fourth season this week with a Freudian treatment of conventional male fantasy. Don Draper, the top dog at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, asks his secretary, who has shown mothering instincts babysitting his children on a vacation trip to California, to marry him.
The most creative woman in the ad agency, who saved the firm by landing a lucrative account for pantyhose, is simply a sad single woman without a man.
Fast forward to real life in 2010, where "secretary" can mean secretary of state, and three of the last four such officeholders have worn pants over their pantyhose, the fashion du jour.
In "Mad Men," a career woman is dumped as a prospective wife in favor of the maternal girlfriend. In real life, a Republican woman -- a mother of two sons and a billionaire businesswoman who has successfully balanced family and work -- has a genuine shot at being elected governor of California. Her family followed her to California when she was chosen to be CEO of eBay.
Meg Whitman should be a feminist icon, but the dwindling gloomy band of radical feminists are too busy pouring new whine into old battles to celebrate success. In a description of "feminism's ritual matricide" in Harper's magazine, Susan Faludi, 51, who has documented the movement for the 30 years, writes that the embittered older women are caught in a civil war "with younger women declaring themselves sick to death of hearing about the glory days of '70s feminism and older women declaring themselves sick to death of being swept into the dustbin of history."
At the convention of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in Indianapolis not long ago, the delegates bogged down in generational rants and recriminations: the Granny Grumpies of Betty Friedan's revolution felt unappreciated as "a bunch of old bags who need to get out of the way," pushed aside by the bikini-waxed, stiletto-heeled, twittering bloggers who enjoy being called "girls."
They reprised the conflict of Hillary Clinton's run for president. Courtenay Martin, a young feminist writer, confessed on Glamour magazine's Glamocracy blog that she wasn't backing Hillary because the onetime first lady reminded her of "being scolded by her mother."