Helen Gurley Brown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Somehow I believed Helen Gurley Brown, the legendary editor of Cosmopolitan, was immortal.
In my twenties i was regularly reading all three editions of Cosmo i could get – US, UK and Italian one – and i did find there the answers i was looking for at the time.
I still know by heart good part of HGB’s best selling book “Sex and the Single Girl”.
I really couldn’t care less whether HGB is widely considered as having contributed to feminist movement and i am really sick and tired of this worn out discourse.
Firstly – please, define contemporary feminism for me, would you? Women’s rights is one thing, but now that we have them (bowing to all who contributed), isn’t it the time we left all this sickening paradigm behind?
I doubt anyone believes nowadays that working women “leave their husbands, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians”, but even if a lady chose to do so - Wicca is a recognized religion by now, capitalism ate itself anyway and US has just promoted its first female and openly gay general.
Honestly, i couldn’t care less what anyone thinks of me personally – as long as my rights are guaranteed – mind you, i am straight and an observant Jew.
Why bringing up Judaism? Well, recently a dear friend of mine posted links on facebook where a right wing Israeli Rabbi has a heated discussion with some Russian nationalist, it made me sick – both of them and the debate itself.
My friend who is an intellectual par exellance, listed several valid reasons for doing so – among them the fact that rabbi in question is one of the few respected by Russian nationalists… Listen, i can’t stand nationalist of any kind – and i don’t care at all what they think and whom they respect, as far as i am concerned, nationalist of all backgrounds are cheap demagogues and in my opinion are best kept in the basement, tied up, with clothes sucked up in chlorophyll pushed into their mouths - BUT, the latter would breach their right to free expression, so as long as they don’t cross the line of hate speech, whenever i hear them, depending on circumstances, i either walk out or simply turn off the tv.
Recently when Marissa Mayer became Yahoo CEO, upon her stating she wouldn’t call herself a feminist – there was a media outcry in the vein of GOODNESS, HOW IS SUCH HERESY POSSIBLE?!
Hear, she ain’t neither Secretary of State nor a spiritual leader, she is not paid to fight for someone’s rights – but to head a company; she proved that a ‘gal can do it, what else do you want? On what bases do you make your pretenses in the first place?
It’s really beyond my comprehension.
Same with Helen Gurley Brown of blessed memory.
I never asked myself was she a feminist – she was empowering women and that was good enough for me – more so, it won my eternal admiration for this small town girl who moved to the big city without having higher education or outstanding looks and who became one of the most influential women of 20th century.
HGB was restricting calories, believed that “Skinny is God”, worked out 90 minutes daily – even on the day of her mother’s funeral, she didn’t have children, she was not against single girls having sugar daddies – and she was brutally honest about it all, that’s the main objections most have about her; personally, i couldn’t care less about any of the above and it’s other ideas i picked up from her and find invaluable.
Don’t forget she wrote her book 50 years ago when sex was mostly unthinkable of before and outside of marriage, but even that doesn’t matter – what mattered to me was her work ethics and it’s there that i bow to her.
She was against intimisation with superiors, and so am i. She campaigned for women to invest into their knowledge and working skills and into making themselves irreplaceable in their careers, not in their lover’s beds – that’s my mantra too and it did wonders for me.
She was stressing all the time how important it is to have a good and supportive boss, one from whom a girl can learn and who will help her career. Fast forward 50 years – it’s still the most important thing, albeit now it doesn’t matter anymore whether the boss is male or female.
A proper superior is worth of gold – they become a role model and – from my personal experience – probably the most important influence in a girl’s life, after her parents’.
I worked both for men and women, and i was superior both to female and male interns – in my experience, the gender doesn’t matter anymore, but if you worked both for a psychopath and for a good guy/ gal – you’ll know exactly what i am talking about.
So these are the things where i agree 100% with HGB. Also, i agree on importance of protein intake (doesn’t have to be of animal origin – mushrooms, beans and tofu rock) and regular exercise as well; my mother being a certified and practicing nutritionist of old school – i know how evolutionary Ms Gurley’s views were at the time.
Where i disagree with my own mother – yet agree with HGB is the ‘natural looks’- my own mother always went for au naturel look, while i personally dislike gray hair and adore make up.
Don’t get me wrong at 75 my mother is – thanks goodness – still going strong, regularly having her facials, her hair, mani and pedi done, she loves accessories and dresses up – think of Hillary Clinton style as of recent – with glasses and sans make up, that’s my mother’s favorite look.
For myself – without imposing anything on anyone – i love meticulously maintained women, and i love being one, the class of (if speaking of role models from the past) Raquell Weltch who admits she needs three hours to get ready for going out.
Tastes vary, it’s as simple as that.
I am a big fan of Madonna Louise Ciccone and i adore her for all the age-defying thing that she does. Do i think she should sit at home so to get out of the way of the younger talents? Not at all – try dethroning her, if you can – and keep trying hard, as she raised the bar very high.
Not to forget the sheer horror Madonna’s own role model – kabbalist Karen Berg, author of “God Wears Lipstick” – causes among certain Orthodox Jews.
If you are interested in my scientific back up of the postmodern Kabbalah – look up among earlier posts here the notes from lecture “Everything you always wanted to know about Kabbalah” which i read in American Corner (cultural outpost of US State Department) in June this year within “Jewish American Heritage Month”, i won’t go into explaining it here.
I don’t label myself a feminist either, albeit i think by most i am considered such; the thing is that i simply don’t think in that terms.
My premise never was that i am a woman – i am a hard working, ambitious and goal oriented person, (spare couple of drunken hints by men to whom i was superior, which i dismissed as ephemeral stupidity) i was never sexually harassed at work and i never used cleavage or pouty lips to climb up; nevertheless i achieved the highest rank in a traditionally male job, wrote and published three books meanwhile, managed to pay off my own Mercedes-Benz at age of 35, i have my own place and am most happily unmarried at the age of 42 – in full honesty, i couldn’t possibly ask for more and it’s women like HGB, Madonna and Karen Berg i look up to.
R.I.P. Helen Gurley Brown, your contribution is immortal to me.
10 Best Tips From ‘Sex and the Single Girl’:
HGB, the Queen of Lipstick Feminism: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/helen-gurley-brown-the-queen-of-lipstick-feminism/article4479857/
An interview with Karen Berg: http://www.awarenessmag.com/janfeb6/jf6_kabbalah.html