Progression or Regression?

Throughout the early 1960s the 38% of women who were in the workplace were limited to jobs such as teachers, nurses, and secretaries. Women were primarily unwelcomed in professional programs, one medical school dean stated, “Hell yes, we have a quota…We do keep women out, when we can. We don’t want them here — and they don’t want them elsewhere, either, whether or not they’ll admit it.” Due to the discrimination against women in professional fields around 6% of American doctors were women, 3% of lawyers were women and less than one percent of engineers were women. These women brave enough to endure the sexist workforce were regularly paid less and denied opportunities to advance. Women were fed up with the unequal treatment and the progression of the Women’s Movement gave women the chance to speak their minds. As the feminist movement grew, so did the representation of women in American television shows.

The Partridge Family was an ABC series during 1970 to 1974 that followed the story of a musical family and their band. Shirley Partridge, the head of the household, and mother of five is in charge of the band acting as their manager. She was breaking free from the stereotypical mom, whose only job is to clean and take care of her kids. While taking care of her kids is true to her character, she is the breadwinner of the family and in control of the household. The show occasionally dealt with feminism issues in fascinating ways. For example in one episode the band wanted to perform to raise money for a feminism group, but the neighborhood and locals are against them playing. The locals came to their house and bombarded them with threats, comments and one neighboring mother said “If we want our daughter liberated we’ll liberate them, what’s wrong with being a housewife.” Shirley stands up for what she believes and tells the locals they are going to do the gig. Both Shirley, Laurie Partridge (the daughter) are for women’s rights and want to play. The rally is a group of high school girls wanting equal rights, but the principal of the school is against the family playing and asked Mrs. Partridge to come and reassess. The locals are protesting in front of the area where the concert is going to be held. But by the end of the episode they play regardless of the disgorging looks of their peers and the principal and some of the protesters are seen smiling and clapping to the sound of the music.