April
26th 2009
Sunday morning roundup: Good lord.

Posted under: American history, art, childhood, Gender, unhappy endings, women's history

cowgirlropeCool and cloudy here–I’ve got some arguments and citations to wrangle, geld, and brand today, so here are a few items to mull over while I’m out writing on the range:

  • To paraphrase something Roxie said the other day, you know it’s a weird news week when you see a headline about a husband who guns down his wife in broad daylight and you’re relieved that he didn’t assassinate his children, too.  (H/t to Ann Bartow and reader Indyanna, who both alerted me to this last night.)  This one’s of special interest, folks–the suspect is a Marketing professor at the University of Georgia.
  • Actress Bea Arthur, dead at 86.  I was a child of the 1970s, but was far too young to have seen Maude in its original run.  I remember the reruns of Maude when they came on sometime after the ABC After-School Special and before the M*A*S*H reruns, and I remember thinking that I had never seen a woman like that on TV before.  Most TV women were model mothers in the mold of Carol Brady or the daffy mom in Please Don’t Eat the Daisies–when adult women appeared at all, that is.  Shows like Hogan’s Heroes and Family Affair dispensed with adult women almost entirely.  M*A*S*H’s depiction of women as mostly just sex objects was profoundly alienating–was I supposed to identify with Hawkeye Pierce?  The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s Mary Richards was too whiny and simpering.  And into this rerun mishmash came Maude–the first adult woman permitted to have confidence in her opinions and be the star of the show, and she was never humiliated for wanting a full life the way that Margaret Houlihan was routinely on M*A*S*H.  (See Roxie’s appreciation of Arthur.)
  • What do colleges and universities gifted by the mystery multimillionaire benefactor have in common?  They’re all led by women.  Who’da thunkit?  I guess that means the development office at Baa Ram U. shouldn’t wait by the telephone… 

12 Comments »

12 Responses to “Sunday morning roundup: Good lord.”

  1. Erica on 26 Apr 2009 at 9:15 am #

    I watched a lot of Mary Tyler Moore reruns while growing up, and I always loved Rhoda far more than Mary :)

    The mystery donations are interesting — wonder if it will lead to a spate of promoting women in the hope of being similarly noticed?

  2. Digger on 26 Apr 2009 at 9:37 am #

    Gelding the citations and branding the arguments? ‘Tis an.. ah.. interesting visual. I doubt I’ll be able to get it out of my Poor Brain!

    I was sad to hear about Bea Arthur; I also saw only the reruns. I always loved her.

    And yay to the mystery donor(s). Mysteries are good.

  3. Clio Bluestocking on 26 Apr 2009 at 9:54 am #

    I so wanted Bea Arthur to be my grandma! As I grew older, I appreciated her more and more, and then I didn’t want her to be my grandmother, I wanted to be her myself. That is, be like her.

  4. Historiann on 26 Apr 2009 at 10:14 am #

    Erica–yes, Rhoda for sure. I liked her snappy Jewish attitude–in contrast to Mary’s dithering, un-self confident WASP. And of course the TV show Rhoda offered Julie Kavner (a.k.a. “Marge Simpson”) her breakout role as Brenda Morgenstern.

    Has anyone known anyone else named Rhoda, ever? I’ve never met anyone with that name. Mabye it’s poised for a comeback?

  5. Mother of ALL on 26 Apr 2009 at 10:28 am #

    Just watched Sunday Morning on CBS and they re-ran an interview taped in 2002 with Bea Arthur. Strangely enough, she was, in person, nothing like her stage persona. She was a very shy quiet-type person. I also read a quote that when she was asked about being type-cast as these loud, brassy, opinionated women. She said that at “5’9, raspy-voiced and large boned, what else would she be and as long as the roles were good, so what?

    As to the name Rhoda, I did now a Rhodina long ago and thought that a real interesting name. I also liked Rhoda more than Mary.

  6. Susan on 26 Apr 2009 at 11:16 am #

    I had a colleague named Rhoda — good feminist research methods person.

  7. Indyanna on 26 Apr 2009 at 11:35 am #

    I was thinking it would be more like brand the notes and geld the arguments, which would be a good way of keeping people from taking any ill-advised pot shots at you.

    (Some of) the women of those iconic black and white ’50s first-half-of-the sixties shows I think in retrospect turn out to be more substantive, subversive, etc. than their transitional successors. No citations available.

    The only thing that worried me about that invisible millionaire donor thing is that if ze insists on anonymity to the recipient as well as the public, then later turns out to be a reprobatable source, there’s virtually always blow-back that falls to the recipient. That would keep me up some if I ran a grantee school.

  8. Historiann on 26 Apr 2009 at 11:38 am #

    Rhodina? Now that’s a name to run through the Social Security baby names database.

    According to the database, Rhoda hasn’t been in the top 1,000 girls’ names since 1975, and even then, it was in the 700s-900s in the early 1970s. Rhodina is not in the top 1,000 names any time in the past 100 years.

  9. John S. on 26 Apr 2009 at 12:33 pm #

    I was sad to see the news about Bea Arthur. I am still amazed at Maude, both the character and the show. The fact that they ran a storyline about Maude having an abortion (and the show aired before Roe v. Wade!) is still shocking. (I don’t know if those eps ran in reruns, however.) And BA was funny in that and in so many other things. I’ll miss her.

    My brother’s high school sweetheart was named Rhonda. It was, as I recall, a family name–her parents were old school genteel southerners moved to South Jersey. They were not at all like Rhoda Morgenstern, in my experience.

  10. Fratguy on 26 Apr 2009 at 9:57 pm #

    Help me, Rhonda.

  11. squadratomagico on 27 Apr 2009 at 8:43 am #

    I’m so glad everyone here loves Rhoda! Gosh, my older sister always used to say that MTM was such a wonderful character, an early icon of the independent career woman, and I sorta felt bad for finding her vapid and annoying. It seemed to me that every show featured her crying in her boss’s office and wailing, “Oh, Mister Gra-a-a-ant!” Never understood the appeal, and always liked Rhoda’s sardonic style much more.

  12. Daveigh on 23 Jun 2011 at 11:19 am #

    Thanks guys, I just about lost it looikng for this.

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