Tag Archives: Maude

Happy Birthday, Beatrice Arthur

13 May

BeaArthur2-smBea Arthur, born Bernice Frankel in New York City on this date in 1922, would become an American icon from the 1960’s through the 21st Century.  She would have been 91 today.

My first introduction to Arthur was in the early 1970’s when she was starring as Maude, the loud mouthed, opinionated, liberal taking on topics like race, gender, power, sexual orientation, and even abortion.  I loved this show.  Who knew I would grow up to become Maude.  Maude was a true pioneer in addressing equity and the disparities in how we treat other people.  I loved her voice of social justice, even when she would get it wrong.

When we first moved to Oregon, I was horribly depressed and hated living in Salem.  My first job here, I was accosted by a Mormon woman who came into my office and said with great sincerity: “Michael, I just want you to know I pray for your sin.”  I would like to say I handled this with grace and dignity, but I didn’t.  My reply was: “Tammy, I pray that you will stop wearing brown double knit polyester everyday.” Not a shining moment for as a social worker.

The only highlight in moving to Salem was that my husband bought us tickets to see Bea Arthur live at the Elsinore in Salem.  She made me forget my miseries, my woes, and my temporary misanthropy.  She was authentic, kind, generous, and had a mouth like a sailor — I know I had to clutch my pearls many a time during her show.

Arthur had the power to transform us all and make us laugh at our selves, laugh at the world, but yet charged us each with the obligation to make the world a better place for all marginalized and targeted people after we left the theatre. As a true feminist/social worker should, she acknowledged that everything is political: “”I’ve been a Democrat my whole life. That’s what makes Maude and Dorothy so believable, we have the same viewpoints on how our country should be handled.”  Seeing her live is one of my top 10 memories, for which I will be forever grateful.

She channelled her phenomenol energy into so many worthy causes. She was an animal rights activist and an active advocate for civil rights for the elderly and the LGBT community. Three days after her death, all the marquees on Broadway were dimmed at 8pm. What a fitting tribute to a woman whose passing left the world a little less bright.

My Husband Married Maude

23 Jul

Me Giving the Look!

When I first started dating my husband, the librarian, I was not certain we could be married. He was a white Presbyterian WASP who had been married to two different women before dating me.  He was truly god’s frozen chosen.  I, on the other hand, am a cross between a “big black bitch” as one of my former students referred to me, and a loud-mouthed liberal Jewish/Catholic who looked and sounded like Maude with a southern accent.

Oy! My poor husband!  Who knew that 12 years later we would make each other so happy, or as he puts it: “We are stuck with each other.”  My poor husband has to endure my tireless political tirades against bigots like John Boehner, Michele Bachmann and her “straight” husband and the rest of the misogynistic, homophobic bigots that get me so angry that I start to spit fire.  Yes, my husband, the calm ever wise librarian, married a strident feminist, LGBT/Black activist Bitch.

Right now we are at our favorite Inn on the Oregon Coast.  We are having a perfect evening, despite the ugly turn our lovely dinner took. You see, the wonderful restaurant at the Inn now has the most horrific homophobic waiter. He refused to come to our table, so the rest of the staff had to do his job. When we talked to the Chef, whom we love, and praised his culinary triumph (I do not exaggerate here) we also had to give the unfortunate feedback that the waiter  was so homophobic that he would not even come to the table.  The Chef was not surprised in the least, but was clearly sad to hear our feedback. We dined at our favorite Inn in Cannon Beach, Oregon.  We will continue to go to this Inn because everyone else there is quite lovely to us. I do hope they take the waiter to task and give him some sensitivity training.  You can’t “catch” gay, just as you can’t “catch” straight.  If he were to walk into any library, he would be attended to regardless of his religion.  He has a job–he is a waiter, as in wait on people. He needs to be able to do his job regardless of people’s sexual orientation!  Just as I would hope a pharmacist would fill a prescription for a woman, regardless of his religious beliefs and not allow her to bleed to death.

Honestly, we had a lovely evening and my husband was quick to remind me that we would not allow the behavior of one homophobic bigot ruin our time.  God will get you for that Walter!

Moment in Women’s History: Roseanne Barr

12 Jul

In her own words, “Welcome to Roseannadu.”  I have been thinking a great deal in the past month about how to celebrate Roseanne. The reasons are evident, but I want to make sure I do justice to a pioneer for women in television.

During the Bush Sr. years, 1988-1992, (Bush who raised taxes, what a novel idea. Who do I need to strangle? The current Republicans are making me defend Bush Sr.!) we were in a significant recession and jobs were hard to come by.  There were no television shows that reflected Americans struggling with issues of money, paying the mortgage, unemployment, food, birth control, homosexuality, and abortion.  Later during the Clinton years, television shows only gave us “I wanna be skinny like the Friends.”  Today, the recession of the late 80s looks like a merry-go-round in contrast to the never ending recession Bush Jr. started.  I reflect on my own situation and think about the fact that my husband and I are actually worse off financially now then we were 12 years ago, as many in this country are.

I don’t see the struggles of Americans being reflected in television shows in the way Roseanne was able to do with great aplomb. With the show Roseanne, we saw an overweight, strong, and independent woman struggling to raise children and pay the bills all with a sense of humor.  We also saw gay characters.  While I credit Soap with the first ongoing gay character, albeit they turned Jodie straight by the end of the show, Roseanne had two regular gay characters, breaking through stereotypes and paving the way for television to finally show a much more accurate depiction of what America looks like. We are big, small, short, tall, thin, fat, gay, straight, poor, rich, and we are all Americans.

When I look back at episodes of Roseanne, I’m also saddened by the fact that we seem to have gone backwards for women’s rights. While Maude, was the first show to deal with the issue of abortion, Roseanne did a marvelous job of dealing with the issue on her show: being pregnant at the Planned Parenthood clinic yelling at the misogynistic and idiotic protesters, “Hell no, we won’t go. Life begins when we say so.”

Another remarkable episode is when Roseanne goes with her daughter to buy birth control. Roseanne takes a very real and very intelligent approach to a sex and family planning.  If only Sarah Palin had had that conversation with her daughter. While I’m elated that we see increased visibility of the LGBT community and African-Americans, I am quite sad that we do not see greater advocacy for women’s rights, specifically reproductive rights; it is as though we, as a nation, have gone backwards.

Where does this leave us?  Where is the next Roseanne? Who will take up the cause and be a champion and role model for women?

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