It’s a Wonderful Life for Journalists

 

If there is anyone right now, currently, in the beginning months of 2017 that I am most proud of, it is journalists. I’ll tell you why, although, even if you don’t consider yourself very politically inclined, you still can probably guess as to why –  and I don’t mean that in layman terms.

I am one of the few out there, or at least still think I am one of the few out there, that still has an ongoing relationship subscribing to the newspaper. I continue to subscribe because printed copy is still my favorite way to read the newspaper. Maybe not for long, and maybe that will change, but for now, it is still my favorite. Having something that you can physically turn each page – whether it be a newspaper, a book, whatever, nothing beats it. So naturally, I understand tradition in all it’s many forms. Buying a new book, cracking it open and smelling the middle pages never gets old, even if it is an old book, which in my opinion is the holy grail of all that is book collecting. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn sits on my nightstand, not that I am currently reading it, even though I’ve read Mark Twain more times than I could count, but because it was given to my father by my grandfather, as a gift, because he didn’t see him frequently. But the smell and feel of an old book is the best. Kindle’s never interested me, nor have I ever read anything on a kindle. But that is just me. Although, I am not opposed to shifting to online news outlets, I still find time to pick up the stack of the past week’s newspapers in the living room that my mother has finished reading, and start my Saturday morning with frequent refills of coffee, and each newspaper from each day of the week.

I used to think that the best time to be a journalist was during the women’s movement. And for good reason. Betty Friedan’s 1963 The Feminine Mystique sparked a nation-wide argument that brought white, liberal women out of the corners of their laundry room, and into the streets to protest and dance in the rain. The entire movement seemed to have catapulted white women everywhere throughout the country into an intimate nation-wide discussion. Gloria Steinem’s long finger nails, and blasé persona, complete without a drop of makeup, and minimal jewelry, became a common symbolic statement for women everywhere, well into the seventies.

The movement didn’t start there, of course. The pioneers during the first wave of feminism, The Suffragette’s – risked their lives to get the message out and open throughout much of the U.S. and U.K. The Susan B. Anthony’s of that time period risked the jailed punishments of their radical standings at the time. While protests were trickling down across the nation, women everywhere started to realize there wasn’t just one key to one door, but instead, additional, brightly colored doors – and for once, they didn’t have just one option, but many. They also started to realize, they could take the various keys whenever they pleased. It was no longer in possession of their husbands’.

Marlene Dietrich, a prominent singer and actress in the thirties and well into the fifties, was by all accounts, a fashion icon. Dietrich famously and scandalously wore pantsuits in the thirties, a real Diane Keaton of fashion style long before Keaton ever made it to the screen. When Dietrich died in 1992, The New York Times called her a Symbol of Glamour. She famously once said “I dress for the image. Not for myself, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men.” Woah. Eva Peron held her own by helping Argentina’s feminist movement in the late forties.

The subtle hints that women of all standings in the public image projected slowly but surely led to the great movement that gave women everywhere – who picked up writings and essays by women like Betty, – a breath of relief, a spark of a newfound confidence to jump on the bandwagon. Flowers and girl powers.

Even this morning, reading Nora Ephron’s own personal essays on the women’s movement, I sit on the same couch as my eighty-eight year old nonna. When I asked her if the women’s movement affected her, I got the answer I had predicted. “Not really,” she began with. Not really. It didn’t stop there, and to be frank, only fueled her hate fire. “The women’s movement really screwed everything up,” she started. Well, there you have it. “I can’t believe I am in the same blood line as someone who considers this,” is what I replied to hearing this massive screw up, in part, but the women who changed the notion that there is more than one door to take. Suggesting that women don’t necessarily have to all take the same boring and bland door, apparently is much to destructive for my nonna’s taste, if you ask her. Another wave of women who may want to take on a career, should they decide to do so, without the pressure of having to also carry children, if they do not wish to, the women who gave inspiration to the career-minded women of the time, and the motivation to go after all their career-worthy dreams, and that only, if they wish to do so. Suggesting that those women who also would like to get in the workforce, and have a family, was another possibility that the women’s movement ‘brought up’ – one that my nonna believes really ruined.

Now, you may be reading this and thinking, ‘well, that’s just what she believes,’ and that is exactly what I am writing this to remind you of. The difference between my nonna and I are decades separated, however, some of my like-minded friends, who would probably agree completely with my nonna, fail to see that a writer, whether male or female during the women’s movement, was probably soaking up every last minute of it. But apparently, in other’s eyes, it ‘really screwed us all.’ I don’t know what came out of her mouth after that, I had already mentally blocked her words, muting her, rolling my eyes, and continuing to read Nora Ephron’s Crazy Salad (if you couldn’t tell already, one of my favorites).  I won’t even go into detail when I tell you that she had just a tad bit some argumentative scoffs when I told her about the sweet four kids I know, who’s father is working from home, while their mother is deployed to Afghanistan for a seven month tour. Let’s not even talk about what she had to say about that.

All I am saying is that the women’s movement, in my twenty-two years of living, thinks that being a journalist during that time (late sixties to late seventies) was one of the best times to be a journalist. Until now.

Until now, and by now I mean when half the nation mourned Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy’s loss, while the other half celebrated it. It had more to do with the person who’s role would then lead the country, not so much that a woman lost. It had more to do with who she lost to. Once the tears dried, and everyone picked up their usual stream of consciousness, those who once mourned, now felt empowered. Just a little. But empowered is a pretty awesome feeling after a devastation. Much like that feeling you get when you watch the guy you love pick someone else, and your heart is broken, and you think the world is coming to an end, or at least, your world is, and then once everything settles, and the tears dry, (whether figuratively or not) you then feel a slight sense of empowerment. Some kind of new found inspiration you knew you had but didn’t know where it had gone, it’s that same feeling after a devastation. Not that the devastation sucked, because it sucked. I’m not an outwardly emotional person, but on election day after the news broke, I thought it would be as good a day as any to pay for the person behind me in the Starbucks drive-through.  You chose to see the good, because without it, you wouldn’t be able to function properly. So you find the hope and the inspiration. The reason being is that when things become so out of flux or out of even your wildest imagination, and things feel in complete disorder, you begin to create a new way of thinking. Even the most pessimistic negative Nancies would find a newfound empowerment. And yes,  even those individuals, those like-minded nonna’s of the twenty-first century who believe the open door of possibilities was a screwed up idea that ‘ruined’ it for us all – even those individuals begin to shift their way of thinking. What can this do for the rest of us? Becomes the new question. And it is there that the answers are up to what you believe. Like the journalists right now in the wee early months of 2017 – find it’s the greatest time for journalists. Even if you are not one, and even if you are not bothered by the current state of our political standing, whether you were in mourning, or you were celebrating, or you are just not politically inclined at all, you have to admit, it’s a great time to be a journalist.

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