She Won't Be Any Man's Shadow! Young Romance's 1973 Tale of Relevancy - "I Am a Woman!"
Last time we gathered I gave you a sneak peak of today's story, "I Am a Woman!" I had wanted to share it during Women's History Month, but alas! I ran out of time. No harm there though because this story from Young Romance #190 (January 1973) with Tony DeZuniga pencils is the epitome of timeless. So what makes it such a compelling story some 40 years after its original publication? Read on to find out!
Toni and David are happily engaged and facing the tough situation of their impending long distance relationship. Though neither of them desires to be apart, they know it will put them in a better spot for their future.
Upon coming home from her date with David, Toni is greeted by a less than enthusiastic father. Angry his daughter's been out so late, Tom starts to squabble with Toni and her mother, Mary. As any supportive mother would, Mary tries to stand up for her daughter and her future bridegroom. Ultimately, Mary defers to her husband's lead, upsetting Toni greatly. As a modern young woman, Toni can't understand her mother's willingness to be treated as less than her husband's equal. Toni believes that David shares her beliefs of equality and things will be different in their marriage.
Their wedding day seems happy enough but it comes as no surprise based on David's assertion that he knows "...just how to handle Toni," that soon after the honeymoon David turns into a brute. It all starts when David goes ahead and buys their house without Toni's input. Their house! Yeah. I can't believe it either. David continues to dial up the jerk-o-meter by telling Toni she's a nag when she asks him to pick up his things, changing plans on her, and even dismissing her opinions in front of his friends.
"Slowly I began to realize that just loving a man isn't enough..."
The big blowout comes when Toni announces that she needs to have another purpose in life besides catering to David's needs. She wants to work outside the home. David puts his foot down, however, and declares that there'll be no job for Toni. The next day, Toni packs her things and lets her husband know what's what.
Toni goes to her mother and father's house but quickly discovers that as they say, you really never can go home again.
After leaving her childhood home in search for a place to stay in the city, Toni is greeted by David at the train station. He knew she'd be there after Toni's mother called him and told him about Toni's visit. After the initial shock of her mother defying her father wears off, Toni and David head back to their mutual home.
Once at the house, David begins to explain his change of heart to Toni. He finally gets it. The newlyweds embrace and what appears to be a tear (and hopefully not just a printing smudge), rolls onto David's cheek.
In this story, the essence of womanhood is depicted as being connected to a sense of purpose. Not unlike reality, for some romance characters that meant rearing children and taking care of a household. For others, a sense of purpose was found in having a career outside the home. When David denied Toni her purpose, he was met with her wrath! It would've been one thing if Toni wanted to stay home, but the fact that she adamantly wanted to work outside the home makes David seem out of touch, even by 1970s standards!
As time goes on and the current social climate and economy deem dual incomes as the goal for many families (whether out of choice or necessity), I believe the question of whether to marry and have a family or advance ones career will continue to be an issue for many young women. Just when I see some wacky Charlton comic extolling the virtues of discotheques, I am reminded by the DC romance stories just how relevant romance comics continue to be in many ways.
Speaking of relevance -- how would you like to read a book about the dating advice from romance comics and how much of it is still applicable? If that sounds up your alley, then you are in luck! If things go as planned, I'll be launching my Kickstarter campaign next month! I've been hard at work pulling together the logistics and I can't wait to share with y'all the fun stuff I've been cooking up!