Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Call Me Ms.!

When it comes to buying Charlton romance comics, I usually break that old adage about judging books by their covers. With the cover on Love and Romance #21 (March 1975) can you really blame me though? I obviously picked it up merely for the cover -- but the corresponding story, "Call Me Ms." featuring a determined young career woman helped to round out the purchase.

Kay Rogers' number one priority is her career as an Assistant Account Executive at an advertising agency. Though we get the hint she does want romance in her life, she doesn't want to experience the regret her mother did and wind-up as a housewife. So when Mr. Wayne Hibbs comes into her life one fateful morning with an account for LipCreem, Kay tells him straight up her feelings on the subjugation and commodification of women.

Though Kay says she wont let her personal feelings get mixed in with business, she ends up going on a date with Wayne. They do talk shop, but inevitably a kiss ensues.

Naturally, a marriage proposal follows. Luckily, Wayne doesn't want her to give up her career. Kay vows to keep working, but reflects on how marriage will always be her number one priority.

Now I admit. This isn't the best written story in the history of comic books, but it does serve as an example of the discourse that surrounded the Women's Movement. Do I pursue a career? Family life? Both? It does send some mixed messages however. For example -- throughout the whole story Kay refers to her work as her "career." At the end though, she calls it a "job," which brings to mind somewhat negative connotations and maybe a little bit of resentment. Also, on the third page shown here, Kay blasts Wayne for assuming that women are constantly seeking men's approval. On the second to last page though, she seeks his approval concerning the LipCreem and her attractiveness level. Change of heart on Kay's behalf or bad writing? I will leave that for you to decide!


  1. Wow, Kay really seems to be ALL talk. I love the whole "Never Mind the Details ... I just heard you proposes..." Even thou those details pertained to her all important career.

    You really have to feel sorry for Roy. She rejects his proposal and in just a few short days is marrying this guy. Looks to me like she just really didn't dig Roy. That's going to sting.

  2. Dare I say it (not judging by covers, but track records), that sending mixed signals in this story is more REALISTIC... I wish I had a nickel for every Dame who fluctuated between every range of emotion en route to deciding the Family vs Career issue. I would never blame any member of any species, be they male or female, for reaching for the brass ring, for striving to attain a taste of EVERY-thing. Where it gets a little dicey is regarding time-energy NOT spent on the commensurate Children of ambitious Women. There simply isn't enough TIME in the day to do it all. What a dilemma ! Glad I'm a dude, keeping it simple stupid.

  3. Spectergirl and Lysdexicuss: Kay is wishy washy for sure! I wonder if she did have children if she would keep her career? Hmmmm...

  4. Jacque; I wrote a fairly long comment to you last night about what a lousy feminist Kay was, inconsistent, counter-productively strident, and so emotional that her emotions negatively modified her feminist beliefs without her even being aware of it. I think I may even have speculated that she wasn't a particularly pleasant person also ...

    But I'm glad I didn't send that comment, because on reflection, I suspect that the single most representative & believable thing about Kay is that she IS such an inconsistent, unselfaware fusion of traditional gender role & doctrinare feminism. Because I suspect that's how it was for some - and perhaps a great deal of - folks. All those years of socialisation into a sexist culture wouldn't have gone away, particularly since Kay doesn't seem bright enough, or perhaps formally educated enough, to be able to monitor how she's been culturally programmed & what her ideological relationship to that "should" be and is.

    There must have lots of women - and lots of men too of course - who were caught without knowing it between two quite different gender cultures, and I'll bet that irrationality was an inevitable result of that.

    And when I clawed my way to seeing things that way, I found I rather liked Kay actually, rather admired her. There wouldn't have been many folks actively sabotaging their own advertising careers through such heartfelt sloganeering because they believed that to be right. Misguided, in part: no doubt. But passionate about her rights as well as the oddly beguiling Wayne & an important break with the past too? Well, yes ...

    But to settle down with Wayne, who pretty much starts his life with her by describing her as " ... a chick who happens to have nice legs"? Now Wayne, there's a man I can't work up the sympathy for.

  5. Colsmi: Great analysis... I also don't think that these are issues that are going to go away anytime soon. How can one not be at least somewhat conflicted between wanting family and a career -- two things that many people find necessary to sustain a quality of life?

    I am not sure I like Wayne either... it confused me how she asked about the girls he had loved (last page) and his first answer made it seem like at least a few, and then he basically contradicted himself when he said he only loved her. Maybe I am misunderstanding it, but if not -- it seems like it was a cheesy line and not a genuine expression of love.