As many have already written, Mary Tyler Moore died last week. I remember watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show as a teenager (I think that’s when it was on NZ TV), when I too was looking forward to the prospect of leaving home and moving to a big city, full of opportunities. I probably didn’t realise how ground-breaking it was at the time, perhaps because I always felt more than a little frustrated because Mary was by far the most sensible and capable person in the newsroom, and she did most of the work, she had to fix the messes from their scrapes, but still she was junior to the men, and was pushed about by them.
Some things have changed since the programme – I read, for example, that the character Mary was only allowed to wear trousers/pants once an episode because they were not yet readily accepted attire for a woman. But society didn’t change that much that quickly, as I distinctly remember having to dash home from the Embassy in Bangkok in the early 1990s to change my pants to a skirt when I was asked to accompany the Ambassador later that day to call on the Prime Minister, and even in 2016, you hear that a woman was sent home because she didn’t wear high heels.
And in the last decade, I have seen female friends spending years of their working lives supporting men who were promoted over them and preventing them from making mistakes, just as I remember Mary covering for Lou Grant and Murray, rather than receiving those promotions themselves. Double standards still exist between the genders in all spheres of life, and the recent women’s marches all around the world were a genuine response to that. Sadly, although I like to think that we, as women, are “gonna make it after all,” I’m not hopeful that it will be soon.
Sadly, although I like to think that we, as women, are “gonna make it after all,” I’m not convinced that it will be very soon.