Poor Barbara Streisand. While promoting her new music album Wall, she made a boo-boo. She said white women didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential election because they didn’t know their minds and followed the advice of their husbands. The remark caught fire, which may be good for album sales, but it landed her in the pillory. Women flooded her with comments as if they were at a Macy’s Louboutin shoe sale . Most of their remarks weren’t complimentary.
“Pay no attention to her. She’s a has been,” mewed one young woman who didn’t have a new music album coming out and probably never would. From there the proverbial fur flew.
My inclination was to back away and leave Barbara to her fate. Would she impale herself for me if I nominated Donald Trump to NOW’s Board of Directors, I wondered. It may be that during her retirement, the singer fell a little behind the times. Does she know, for example, that sales at Victoria’s Secret are down 41% this year? (“Victoria’s Secret loses its appeal,” by Tariro Mzezewa, NY Times excerpt in The Week, Nov. 30, 2018, pg. 34.) The fantasy of half-naked Amazons isn’t selling any more, at least, not among women. Instead of push up bras that hike mammary glands to the chin, young females have opted for comfort. They want underwear that cossets their bodies, no matter its shape. If guys like underwires, they can wear them.
Barbara may not be entirely wrong in her assessment of the female psyche, however. As a candidate for office, I’ve had women take my literature and say they’d discuss it with their husbands. I’ve even had women slam doors in my face, vowing never to vote for someone of their gender. I admit my experience was in the late 1970’s. Times have changed for the better, perhaps, but not as completely as some might think.
Two small but significant survey samples taken between 1994 and 2014 show a rise in the percentage of young Americans adults who believe a woman’s place is in the home. A growth from 16% to 25% is significant. Is that shift a backward glance or is it the attitude of women looking beyond liberation? I don’t know. But add their number to the number of women born before the 1963 publication of Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique, women 50 to 99 years of age, (see picture) and we discover half the U. S. female population may not be liberated in the way some of us imagine.
My advice to women young and old is never to take the status quo for granted. Is Barbara a has been? Or does her longer perspective give her some insights the rest of us shouldn’t ignore. In this uncertain life, I feel confident of only one thing. Nothing is settled until you’re dead.