Feminist Carnival: 1970s Feminist Thought

Yes, I know I've blogged these photographs before. But this time I'm doing a little something extra for the Feminist Carnival. I don't have any grand arguments to make about 1970s feminism, but I find it very interesting how, during the 1970s, before the backlash, feminism seemed almost celebrated. (Thumbnails go to larger photographs.)

Advertisement for Hour after Hour deodorant, Mademoiselle magazine, 1973 Advertisement for Secret deodorant, 2005
When feminism was good for business, 1 Secret Ad, 2005

The 1973 ad says:

How do you rate as a 1973 woman?

It used to be a man's world. But you've changed it. How much? Check a box for every yes. In the past year:

  • Have you taken an active part in an election campaign, bond issue, school budget, zoning question?
  • Have you expressed your opinion in areas where you used to just smile and nod agreement?
  • If you manage a home and family, does it upset you when someone says you're "just a housewife"?
  • Do you have -- or do you want -- a job in what was once considered a man's domain?
  • Do you pay more attention to news, comments, editorials?

The more "Yes" answers you have, the more involved, concerned and active you are. But now that you're tough enough to dish it out, you should be tough enough to take it. Frankly, you sweat. That's why you need an anti-perspirant that's tough enough to take it . . . Hour after Hour.

It fights odor and all 3 kinds of wetness. From heat, tension and exercise. That's powerful protection. Yet it has a new fragrance that tells you you're still utterly feminine. Hour after Hour. Protects against 3 kinds of wetness. So you dish it out. We're tough enough to take it.

The 2005 ad says:

My secret: I send myself flowers to make him jealous.

Our newest body sprays give you such a rush of long-lasting Lavender and Passion Flower freshness, you'll be tempted to pluck a handful.

See also these other ads from Mademoiselle for more context. It isn't that I feel nostalgic for the 1970s -- I was only a tot then, but I know it was no Herland -- but I would like to see some of this Hour after Hour kind of pride right about now. Irony and flippant humor are great, but so are sincerity and earnestness. UPDATE: I just discovered this list of Tips for Strength on Secret's site, which, much to my relief, makes the scale a little more balanced, though it lacks the agenda-like specificity of the 1970s ad.

I'd love to hear any other thoughts about this if you have them. If anything, these images can be a jumping-off point or prompt for further discussion.

As an aside, check out this ad for Chomsky's American Power & the New Mandarins from a 1969 issue of The Nation.

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70's Feminist Sweat

2 Board Alley The 70's also gave birth to the delightful line: "I'm not a feminist, but. . . ." Or, "I'm not one of those crazy feminists, but. . . . " followed by a list of ideas that sounded very feminist.


This post is getting more response than I was expecting (which is to say, I expected none at all). Check out what students in a Gender and Communication class are saying about the ads.

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