Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Stereotyping Women's Lib in the Romance Comics - Young Love's "Cry Like a Real Girl!"

Happy Women's History Month, everyone! March got away from me and here we are already more than halfway into it, but I couldn't let the month pass by without at least one post for Women's History Month. Today I have for you, "Cry Like a Real Girl!" from Young Love #108 (February/March 1974), penciled by the legendary Win Mortimer. This doozy of a story featuring Angie, a "liberated female," was on the newsstands precisely 40 years ago and isn't one that you'll soon forget. Since it's a short one and every panel packs an important punch when it comes to understanding the trick ending, the story is presented here in its entirety. Click on each page to read!


Alright, take a minute to digest that. You may want to read it more than once (I know I sure did). Ah yes, despite her convictions, Angie used the high school feminist club to outsmart and clinch Brad as her steady. But they were cool with that! I really haven't read much about the Women's Movement on high school campuses (most literature on the topic tends to lean toward college-aged groups), but this story certainly makes me want to research it more. The beautifully illustrated "Cry Like a Real Girl!" plays up on all the stereotypes that society at large had when it came to the "libbers," only to show that they would be the ones with the last laugh. What do you think? Condescending stereotypical pop culture drivel from a warped past, or ingenious storytelling and execution worthy of remaining in our collective conscious? 

11 comments:

  1. I think this was a great little story. I feel Angie was deviously trying to get Brad to go steady with her, but still trying to be "in" with her friends. The dialogue is just crazy..."Brad you are a sweet male..." Who talked like that? Very enjoyable post. Thank You

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  2. Wow! I loathe every character in this story.

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  3. Dear Jacque: Hi! Thanks for another terrific find from the romance comics past!

    I don't like the story, either. It does play into the negative stereotypes (i.e. it's motivated by hatred of men, it's rigid "brainwashing") about the feminist movement, or, as they were derisively known at the time, "Women's Libbers." The story also plays into the pre-Lib belief that the way for a woman to "get" a man is through subterfuge or "feminine wiles."

    Yet it's still important to read stories like these. They are a window into where the popular (and mostly likely, male) mind was at the time regarding a vastly important social issue. (I'm assuming the story was written by a man.)

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  4. Wow! Did real men wear pantsuits like Brad? The story is, as mentioned above, stereotype extremism, and, as also mentioned, fairly repugnant in it's portrayals. Not being a woman, yet having vague memories of this era, my understanding of that movement was that the core message was not the hatred of men, as shown here, but the empowering and respecting of women...rights to equal treatment. Woman who don't need men aren't "woman's libbers", they are lesbians. Certainly there were fringes of such involved, but highly unsuited for a (heterosexual) romance comic. And most men didn't mind the women's movement (except for the extremist radicals) because a big part of that movement was women going bra-less, and most men like that sort of thing...and "empowered" women weren't women who disdain sex with men, but had the option of instigating it, and weren't relegated to being only on the bottom of the missionary position. No, an "empowered" woman could get her orgasm as well as the male. True "empowered" women wanted more respect, more control, more satisfaction, and that included in the bedroom. Real men could accept such a thing.

    Maybe a bit crude, but just a chauvinist, tellin' it like it is.

    This story conveys a stilted and misunderstood perception, reducing to steroetype, and is worthy of only a footnote, in the column labeled "What were we thinking?"

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  5. Wow, the surprise ending made my head spin a bit. I have to say, though, that I agree with most everyone above: the story just seems to reinforce a lot of negative stereotypes about both women and men and the question of equality.
    In fact, it's basically reverse subversive (if that makes sense), in that the whole push for equal rights is here used as nothing more than a ploy for a girl to trick her boyfriend into agreeing to go steady with her.

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  6. It would be interesting to learn who wrote this. Anyone know how to contact Allan Asherman to ask?
    BTW, I didn't guess the ending.

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  7. Apocolyte, the idea women don't "need" men was a common theme in feminism back then. Not in the sense that they weren't interested or were all asexual, but in response to the mainstream view that a woman couldn't possibly be complete without a man, and that this need outweighed all other options. Better to quit your job, change your personality, whatever it took to avoid being guyless (not an alien view even today unfortunately).
    I like the ending twist. It turns around the "love triumphs over feminism" theme I saw a lot back in the 1970s. But no, doesn't redeem the story for me.

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  8. Have you tried www.whitepages.com for contact info? There's an Allen Asherman in Plainview, NY.

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  9. Thank you everyone for your thoughtful comments. I really enjoyed reading your take on this rather unique story. It is amazing that such a short piece can provide so much to think about and discuss!

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  10. How do you know he wasn't secretly working with the libbers, too? Heh-heh-heh!!

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