Tag Archive for: first wave feminism

Cameron Diaz and Women’s Liberation

 by Kay Kendall                              


I don’t know about you, but I feel relieved. Various TV morning shows and
a plethora of online sources that follow celebrities’ doings say I can check
one thing off my worry list. Movie actress Cameron Diaz “is not going to die an
old maid.”
Really? In this day and age, wouldn’t you think that opinion was old hat?
What is this—the 1950s?
Lest you taunt me for being frivolous, I assure you my musings are quite serious
about the wedding of Ms. Diaz (42) and rocker Benji Madden (35). For the last
two years I’ve thought a good deal about how far we women have come, baby, as I
developed my mystery set against a women’s liberation background. Rainy Day Women takes place in 1969. Those
were early days in what is known now as Second Wave Feminism. (First Wave took
place in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, keying on legal issues,
primarily women’s right to vote).
From the vantage point of 2015, looking back at the sixties, you could assume
the women’s movement had changed many attitudes about appropriate behavior for
women. And then you slam into nasty offhand comments about poor Cameron Diaz. 
Believe me, this actress is no wallflower. Her dalliances with celebrity
boyfriends are the stuff of legend. To name only a few, there were heart throb
Justin Timberlake, Oscar winner Jared Leto, New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, and
even P. Diddy
  AKA Sean Combs.
With that dating background, Cameron Diaz needs a better commentary on
her marriage that took place on January 5. She deserves to be compared to
Warren Beatty, famous playboy who settled down with wife Annette Benning when
he was all of 55. They wed, had children, and are evidently living happily ever
after. When that happened, no one proclaimed he had been saved from a life of sad
This blog topic was thrust upon me when a longtime pal shared her ire
over media jabs at Ms. Diaz. My friend said, “A woman has many other ways to
fulfill herself or prove her worth than through marriage. Why hasn’t everyone
gotten beyond that narrow, old-fashioned opinion by now?”
Why indeed? Great question.
When I began writing Rainy Day
Women, my intent was to show the kinds of issues bedeviling women
45 years ago. They flooded into consciousness raising groups with senses of
despair over choices offered them in life—and then left those meetings
emboldened to follow their own paths. Despite being called unfeminine or
derelict of their familial duties, they set out to take control of their own
Clearly there are still some people who want women to remain in
traditional roles no matter what. Female emancipation still scares many.
My husband likes to tell about the time he was traveling in Asia for
business and a male executive delivered a stunning view. “There are three
sexes in the world,” the man said. “There are men, women, and American women.”
My husband did not find that amusing. Rather, he shakes his head when he tells
the story, disturbed at such prejudice.
Okay then, I will now proudly place myself in that third category. If being
an American woman means I stand up for my rights as a person then, yes, I will
do that.
And as for Cameron Diaz, who has often gone on record as being uninterested
in marriage, I would tell her this: “Honey, you just go right on living as you
choose. Unmarried, married, or divorced—it is all up to you.” In short, you go,

Kay Kendall set her
debut novel, DESOLATION ROW–AN AUSTIN STARR MYSTERY in 1968. The sequel RAINY DAY WOMEN (June 2015) shows
her amateur sleuth Austin Starr proving her best friend didn’t murder
women’s liberation activists in Seattle and Vancouver. A fan of historical
mysteries, Kay wants to do for the 1960s what novelist Jacqueline Winspear
accomplishes for England in the 1930s–write atmospheric mysteries that capture
the spirit of the age. Kay is also an award-winning international PR executive
who lives in Texas with her husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills.
Terribly allergic to the bunnies, she loves them anyway! Her book titles show
she’s a Bob Dylan buff too.