Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"The Tyranny," the "Savagery," of the "American Family"

Judith Warner has a moving op-ed today in the New York Times about the 1960s family. Having grown up in the 1960s family in New York and New Jersey. It is this 1950s-'60s era that has defined my life, the way I understand family, church, education...life! Warner explains it beautifully and yet, for me, painfully:

Unlike the baby boomers before us, we “baby busters” of the ’60s never rebelled against the trappings of domesticity represented by our images of the 1950s. Many of us, deep down, yearn for it, having experienced divorce or other sorts of family dislocation in the 1970s. We keep alive a secret dream of “a model of routine and order and organization and competence,” a life “where women kept house, raised kids and kept their eyebrows looking really good,” as the writer Lonnae O’Neal Parker once described it in The Washington Post Magazine.

This was not a family where we who are LBTQG could ever feel comfortable. The gay characters in AMC's "Mad Men" are deep in the closet, covered by cigarette smoke and martinis. I saw my family in Albee's and Guare's plays of the 1960s living room dramas.

She closes with this observation:

How we seem to love and hate those men and women we never knew. What we would give to know their secrets: how Dad managed to come home at 5 p.m. to read the paper or watch TV while Mom fixed dinner and bathed the kids. How Mom turned up at school, every day, unrumpled, coiffed, unflappable. And more to the point: how they managed to afford the lives that they led, on one salary, without hocking their homes to pay for college, without worrying about being bankrupted by medical bills.

Click here for more.

Pace! B


manxxman said...

Oh I to was raised in the 50's and the 60's.......when we finally got a T.V. would watch the Cleaver's and Father Knows Best. It seemed so idealic.....but I must admit that up until high school, even though we lived on my fathers salary as a associate pastor and my mom stayed home to raise the 6 of us we had a wonderful life. It's when high school began and I realized I was gay (and didn't know that my father was) that life began to be confusing.......

Brett Webb-Mitchell said...

It is amazing to see the power of the sit-com family--ala 1950s and 1960s--image to shape our expectation of being family in the 21st century.

I'm all for the biblical family models (plural).