Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I have always loved Helen Gurley Brown. I know the bad rap she has had esp. by the early feminist crowd, but it’s funny, even as a teenager I knew that Friedan and Company didn’t understand how radically feminist Helen was.

Yeah, she talked about sex when no one else would. And she didn’t think that having beautiful clothes, a great body, a terrific career, paying your own way, and orgasms was selling out to the “man”.

Maybe she was a post-feminist before feminism?

Ok, maybe being 5’4” and weighing 98 pounds suggests a hint of a problem, but Helen bought the Duchess of Windsor theory: “You can never be too rich or too thin.” We’ll, yes you can. But Helen was fierce about everything. Growing up in poverty she had a voice for women that rang true always.

Helen—from her first articles that later became “Sex and the Single Girl”—always talked about work first. Work hard, advance your career, use every skill you have, get as much training as you can, shine in the workplace, ask for opportunities. And after that hard work, using your voice, speaking up, taking care of other working women—yeah—then go buy a beautiful silk blouse and wear it three times a week, and say yes to great dinners, dates and sex.

And can you call a woman who says, “take care of your orgasm and teach him how to do it” not a feminist?

She was a fabulous writer. Take a look at the later books where she talks about how to age and how to be a political shaker. Also take a look at the recent biography of HGB—“Bad Girls Go Everywhere” by Jennifer Scanlon.

I miss her already.

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