Heels dug in on feminism

20 August 2012 - 02:07 By Jackie May
Jackie May. File photo.
Jackie May. File photo.
Image: Times LIVE

Once there was a time when good girls stayed home, married sweetly, submitted to their patriarchal husbands, and silently swept aside their miseries.

Now most modern girls can have it all. And often they do. We have access to university, work opportunities, and marital rights. But we can also have fun while being in a newly liberated world.

There were many women who led the way before her, but the long-serving editor of American Cosmopolitan Helen Gurley Brown certainly helped set today's tone for the "women-can-have-it-all" mentality. And, her version was infused with fun. The author of bestselling book Sex and the Single Girl spread the word that unmarried women not only had sex, but thoroughly enjoyed it too.

The work of Gurley Brown, who died last Monday at the age of 90 was not political, was about self-advancement, about wearing the heels, marrying well and having a wonderful time going about it.

Although feminists at the time objected to Gurley Brown's brand of sex-centric feminism, many eventually accepted she'd helped free the minds of many young women. Others still debate whether her work has helped or hindered women's liberation.

Years after Gurley Brown hopped off the editor's chair in 1997, the magazine is still read by millions of teens and women around the world.

If all these readers came together, this group would form the 16th-largest country in the world, our local Cosmo claimed in a recent issue. That's a lot of young women reading articles titled "40 Quickie sex questions", "Clever ways to kiss and make up", and "Taste better . down there".

Sounds tedious if you're well on your way to being sexually liberated. But in our and other socially conservative countries, some girls could do with a bit of guidance. And many of these stories are being circulated in countries where any discussion of sex is taboo, writes a reporter for The New York Times.

Of course there's access to as much sexy online information as you want, but reading coverlines like "Sex questions you are too shy to ask" in the till queue is quite fun, isn't it?