1963 The Feminine Mystique: Betty Friedan exposes the plot to keep women in the kitchen and out of the workplace. A mass advertising campaign paired with a psycho-social post-war domestic offensive convinces women that true fulfillment in the home can be found only by purchasing enormous appliances, pink vintage spoolie hair curlers, and cleaning products with the word “miracle” in their names.
By exposing the stultifying “problem that has no name” — which later became known as First World Problems — Friedan inspired a generation of middle-class women to join her in asking, “Is that all?” A nervous Patriarchy stuttered slightly before replying, “What more do you need, sweetheart? Now bring me my slippers and have another Gin Rickey.”
1991, The Beauty Myth: Following the exodus of women from the home into the work force, women finally seem to have it all. But just as they settle into a period of unprecedented liberation, Naomi Wolf exposes the systematic program to bully women into expending their newfound financial and emotional resources on electric green hair gel, Calvin Klein jeans, and Jazzercise videos.
Shrewd advertisers play on female insecurities by pitting women against each other as if life outside the home was one big, extreme episode of The Bachelor. The plot to convince every woman that she must look like the imaginary love child of Cindy Crawford and Linda Evangelista (if one of them were a drag queen) restores male dominance. Women are again trapped in a new prison of pursuing the unattainable. The Patriarchy breathes a huge sigh of relief and then passes out from all the hairspray fumes.
2034, The Biosphere Maneuver: In the decade following Hillary Clinton’s two terms as U.S. President, millions of women are inspired to abandon the fool’s gold chase for youth, beauty, and ten-minute ab workouts. The phrase “having it all” is a quaint, antiquated relic that was replaced years ago by “having a government like Sweden with progressive, family-friendly policies.” The Treaty of Seneca Falls ended the Mommy Wars once and for all in 2029.
In the vacuum of idiotic pressure, women achieve unprecedented levels of self-acceptance, self-love, and mutual admiration. The spirit of American women can be described only as “that thing where a Lilith Fair spontaneously erupted at the Portland NOW chapter, with Helen Reddy and Malala co-headlining.” But with corporate profits and advertising revenues plummeting, can this Golden Age last?
Marci Minkoff tells the story of how nefarious advertisers step in. Sensing the weakness in a system predicated on women feeling entitled to happiness, a campaign is orchestrated to prey on women’s collective guilt. Cleverly linking women’s worth to their ability to design a biosphere roughly the size of Alaska, advertisers manage to persuade the female public that the well-being of their families depends on the establishment of a self-sustaining bubble habitat with sustainable oxygen levels. Stock prices soar on horticulture charcoal and aquarium sand.
As women compete to save their loved ones, they once again sacrifice free time, sleep, income, and freedom. The bonhomie amongst women weakens and the connection to one another wanes. With women sapped of their energy, all the progress made during the H-Clint years is lost. The Patriarchy lights expensive cigars and nods knowingly.