The Mountain Times

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How many women does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: Only one; so long as she can bat her eyes and smile while asking a man to do it.

Now, before you get your Victoria Secret panties or fishnet stockings in a wad, it is a joke.

Times have changed and "we've come a long way, baby" as the Virginia Slims ad proclaimed. Now there was a sign of women's liberation - we got our own brand of cancer sticks!

I work in business development for a large regional CPA firm. We have over 400 employees in four states with offices in eight cities. I worked at this same firm 20 years ago as a secretary - the only non-CPA jobs for women at that time. I left after five years because I wanted more of a career. Today, we have females in every position in the firm including shareholders. In fact, I have been told we women outnumber the men.

It may seem like it was light years since women were still bound to the kitchen and without their so-called liberation rights. But for us Boomers, it was in our lifetime. One only need look at the role models girls were offered in the television shows of our youth.

It seems Andy Griffith is syndicated on almost every channel available, so it is not uncommon for me to catch an episode - though I will turn the channel if it is in color. Those were recorded after the show "jumped the shark."

Today, Aunt Bee would be commuting to Mount Pilot every day for work and picking up take-out on the way home for dinner. She would be making enough money to hire a housekeeper and use a laundry service. One night a week she would send Andy and Opie to the diner and a movie so she could have the place to herself to entertain a gentleman caller. She'd also have Andy set up with a profile on Match.com to try to get him married off.

On the other hand, Helen Crump was a career woman. I recently caught an episode where she and Andy discussed the possibility of marriage. Helen explained to Andy that she loved being a teacher and she wasn't ready to give it all up to become a wife.

Really?

There was Aunt Bee's chance to be free, but Helen was too much of a libber to forego her career for a man.

The Beverly Hillbillies offered an array of female personalities beginning with the beautiful, sexy Ellie May. The epitome of a blond bombshell, Ellie May could have gotten light bulbs changed, drains unclogged, lawns mowed and any other household chore done with the snap of a finger. She perfected the art of batting the eyes and smiling demurely.

On the other hand, Miss Hathaway was intelligent, witty and extremely capable albeit the epitome of a Plain Jane. She was in awe of Jethro, brawny but brainless. Today Miss Jane would treat herself to a complete makeover and have Jethro eating out of her hand. She would also usurp Mr. Drysdale, taking over his job and his salary.

The best role model on the show was obviously granny. She thought for herself, dug in her heels and fought for her principles and she didn't take crap from anyone. She also enjoyed a cigar like the big boys.

Donna Reed was a doctor's wife, so she probably had financial security. Today, she may have chosen to get her own medical degree and gone into practice with Jeff. In any event, she would not be vacuuming and baking in a dress and pearls as we often saw her. Perhaps she would have hired Hazel to run the house.

Of course Hazel was busy keeping Mr. B and his family straight. The Baxter's treated Hazel as if she were a part of the family. Mrs. Baxter also had a career as an interior decorator - a fine role model for a show that aired in the early 60's. Though Hazel was a live-in housekeeper and nanny to "Sport," she still found time to date Barney the postman and be on a bowling league.

Lucy and Ethel were great at scheming and pulling off hysterical capers, but in the end they always kowtowed to Ricky and Fred. They treated the boys as if they were king of the castle and left the major decisions up to them.

Today, those girls would not have been bumbling at the candy factory, incapable of working outside the home. Instead they would have started up their own business venture. They were both crafty and adventurous and probably would have become the breadwinners making more money than a musician and a landlord.

Boomer generation women have seen the gamut. My grandmother raised the kids, kept the house, cooked the meals and practically worked full-time supporting my grandfather in his work. My mom, single with three girls, juggled full-time work and household management. My daughters both go after what they want without thinking twice - careers, homes, families, social lives - the sky appears to be the limit.

Are women better off today than we were 50 years ago?

It all depends on your perspective. There are many things I love about my life - my job, my freedom, the flexibility in my schedule and the confidence to say what I want, when I want, to whom I want.

But there are those times I wish I had someone else to change the light bulb.