Back row standing: Suzannah Norstrand, Melba Moore, Marjorie LiPari, Lynn Kellogg, Emmeretta Marks. Middle row: Natalie Mosco, Lorrie Davis, Diane Keaton. Front row sitting: Shelley Plimpton, Leata Galloway
Progress isn’t a straight line, so feminism isn’t on a straight line either. There is something in this photograph that now seems entirely lost. I remember women like this in my childhood. One thing that’s been lost from this photo is optimism, but that’s not what I’m missing. These women are squarely in their bodies, not entirely fixated on physical self presentation regardless of the clothes or lack of (and when was the last time nakedness seemed this matter of fact and untwisted? This isn’t even nudity). This is a level of self possession we simply don’t see now. Feminism may not have made certain gains by the 60s and 70s, but sexism also hadn’t yet been replaced with misogyny, a misogyny women have internalized. And while we make gains in law, even in representation in politics and the workplace, something else has drained away leaving those gains sometimes feeling slightly hollow. And I’m not suggesting it’s inversely proportional or inevitable either. The loss I’m talking about is no result of feminism, but in spite of it.
Shelley Plimpton (Martha Plimpton’s mother) singing Frank Mills from the recording done by that cast (she’s the one simply naked and holding her knees at bottom left in the photo above):