RIP Mary Tyler Moore: 1st Feminist
Since the invention of television, American sitcoms typically depicted a traditional family as a mother, father, and children. However, The Mary Tyler Moore Show broke away from that trend of the traditional woman that was so popular in the 1950’s.
Television in the 1970’s responded to the second wave of feminism, with independent female characters, who were not hard, embittered or without close relationships. Mary Richards’ character was a successful, independent woman who finds power through her career and non-conformity to traditional gender roles. The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a direct reflection of women’s strengthening independence in relationships and authority in the workplace that was propelled by the Feminist Movement of the 1960’s. The Mary Tyler Moore Show advocated female power in the workplace and was the first female character to model a single women’s capability of achieving economic stability without male support, and encouraging the new socially acceptable practice of women no longer needing to be with a man to be validated in society.
Mary Richards’ overall character aims to inspire women to continue pursing gender equality, and that her subordinate behavior is a condition of circumstance in which she obeys her boss. Mary Richards’ role focuses on defying the traditional female’s role in society, and places little emphasis on the 1950’s traditional female role of blind compliance to men that was portrayed previously.
We send Mary Tyler Moore’s family, friends, and fans our greatest sympathies today and thank Mary for modeling behavior that would carry women far into the future. #WomensMarch
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