So let’s look at how Sommers misreads the context of Free To Be. First there is the assertion that Free to Be’s main goal was to create gender-free children. For evidence, she points to a dialogue between two babies wherein the boy wants to be a cocktail waitress and the girl a fireman. Except she neglects to mention that the babies are voiced by Mel Brooks and Marlo Thomas and the skit is clearly played for laughs. (Watch it here if you don’t believe me). She also targets Ladies First, which is not about destroying concepts femininity but about pulling your own weight and acting appropriate in a given context. And again, played for laughs. She somehow ignored Carol Channing’s tour de force takedown on housework. These stories used comedy and exaggeration to challenge stereotypes – not advocate for a genderless world. Let’s remember what school looked like in 1974. Around 1974, my gym teacher told me girls couldn’t be captains for choosing sides in gym (mom called the principal). In 1974, most girls had extremely limited opportunities to play sports at all. In 1971, less than 300,000 girls played sports and comprised less than 1% of varsity athletes. In 2012-13 over 3 million girls played sports in high school and comprising about 40 percent of high school athletes. That’s a pretty hefty increase. But hey, that’s just sports, right? What about the real world? In 1970, only 10 percent of doctors were women, now it’s a third. In 1970, only 5 percent of lawyers were women, now it’s a third. Women, weren’t in those professions in part because of sexism in admissions, but in part because people actively discouraged women from joining those fields. That’s why we needed Free to Be You and Me.
But but but! Sissy boys! Bossy professional victim girls! Contrarian, maverick, American Enterprise Institute, chances to write hit-pieces in Time.