Lover her or hate her she was a revolutionary in her own right

I was in my feverish adolescence back in the day when the juvenile female population was divided into two broad categories: the girls who ‘did’ (you know); and the girls who unequivocally did ‘not’.

I was generally in the presence of misses of the latter category, AKA ‘good’ girls, as opposed to the wanton sluts of the former group.

It was an era in which premarital (and it was pre ‘marital’ since good girls then did not shack up) coupling was, even though much desired, including by some girls of the ‘good’ category, avoided for the most part.

None of this pristine behavior was necessarily caused by an excess of purity on the part of either sex. No, it was a matter of practicality. To state the case bluntly, if you wanted to get anywhere in life you just darn well didn’t want to knock somebody up, or to be knocked up. Threw everything to hell and good girls had to be sent off to spend some time staying with an obscure ‘aunt’ somewhere for the duration so that the shame wouldn’t have to be admitted.

I knew some girls who went to stay with them old obscure aunts. Never dated any of them, however.

Then, simply, the birth control pill came about and everything changed and sexual purity became a matter of individual choice rather than necessity. Its advent didn’t mean that erstwhile good girls instantly doffed panties and called out “Come and get me, big boy,” it just meant that they finally had the option to do so without having to bear with some grim consequences.

So, the pill was one thing – along with demonic rock and roll and the counterculture and the Beatles and miniskirts that often offered a view of the panties that were to be doffed – and the other was Helen Gurley Brown.

Ms. Gurley Brown died a few days ago at the huge age of 90 and her contributions were very simple and twofold: A book called Sex and the Single Girl; and a mag (she took over and revamped in her own style) called Cosmopolitan.

SATSG was revolutionary in the sense that while it didn’t necessarily advocate junior misses going out and acting like porn queens, it only recognized that ‘deep’ snuggling was gonna happen and young women should recognize that and at the same time retain their integrity, and ideally latch onto somebody worthy and, ideally, rich. Otherwise, it’s pretty tame fodder by contemporary standards, but was certainly revolutionary as hell in its day.

As for Cosmo, I confess I have never read the mag, though the contents, as evinced by the cover blurbs suggest it contains all sorts of spicy stuff that purports to reveal what young ladies are all about. Of course, it’s probably as realistic a portrait of young lady behavior as Maxim is representative of what young dudes are all about. Lotta wannabes in both categories.

But, what matters here is that HGB was infinitely successful and pathologically skinny. She married a successful guy and was married to him for eons and they both were champs in their respective realms. There wasn’t, and not to be unkind, much about her that appealed. Scrawny doesn’t work, though she was reportedly obsessed with it. Quite frankly she never evoked an untoward thought in me.

But that matters not at all. Love her or loathe what she stood for, she was assuredly one of the pioneer icons of contemporary mores.

But, with all things considered in terms of recent demises, I’ll miss Phyllis Diller more.

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6 responses to “Lover her or hate her she was a revolutionary in her own right

  1. Phyllis Diller bit the dust? When was this? At least Diller was funny…

  2. I had no idea HGB was dead. As for Cosmo, itis as far from reality as a magazine can get in my opinion.

  3. I used to read Cosmo back in the early 80s. I didn’t quite get it, but I kept buying it because I figured I’d soon understand and emulate the lifestyle it espoused. But instead, i just stopped buying it. I felt immediately better about my life.

    • Just a perfect comment about Cosmo and its worth, dear sister. And I am so happy you didn’t try to emlate the mag. Maybe that’s because you have character.

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