Soaps Support Strong Women

A recent book by Elaine Showalter has an interesting  descriptions of soaps in a section called Story Belongs to the People.

“One cultural contribution of the 1930s was the radio soap opera; daytime radio offered a rich choice of serial dramas about women, stories to brighten the lives of lonely housewives. Their shared theme, one historian notes, was women’s strength in the face of male weakness. ‘The men in their lives were handsome, but unreliable. They had affairs… they failed in business… or they were left helpless by blindness, amnesia, or some crippling trauma.’ Women had to step into the breach, save the family, and take over as breadwinners. These drastic solutions to female fantasies were deplored by male writers, as they had in the days of Fanny Fern’s Ruth Hall. James Thurber complained that ‘the man in the wheelchair’ has come to be the standard Soapland symbol.” and William Faulkner described the era in Hollywood soap and weepie movies as ‘the Kotex age.’

The popular fiction of the thirties and even children’s literature by women also provided resourceful women characters to overcome the anxieties of the decade, or told stories of survival in hard times.”

(pp. 356-357)

Showalter, Elaine. A Jury of Her Peers: American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx. New York: Knopf, 2008. Print.

I think this strong woman icon is definitely true about Michelle. Even better than this though, Danny was also strong (although he did have some mobility problems after the coma). She just didn’t save him. They saved each other, over and over again and I think that was one of the true appeals of Manny and why they stand above all other soap couples. It’s what people want for their couples and it’s what they want for themselves.

UPDATED November 7, 2015: I added my signature block, fixed one typo, and italicized the quote.

Robansuefarm is the handle of one of Manny and Guiding Light‘s biggest fans following in her family’s footsteps of Guiding Light fandom since 1939. This blog is an effort to make it easy to find Guiding Light and especially Manny online. Check back here for her blog, find fanfic previews and fake WSPR newscasts on her YouTube, find podcasts that look back to old shows and audios of her fanfics on Blog Talk Radio, and finally follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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2 Responses to “Soaps Support Strong Women”

  1. natnic Says:

    Occasionally when watching an old movie, I am impressed at how central the women characters were to the action. It’s just sad that soaps (a genre watched primarily by women and gay men) is going by the wayside just like the women’s pictures of classic hollywood.

    I wish we could here more from male actors about what its like for them to be acting in such a genre.

    • glmanny Says:

      It definitely is a loss to the culture. When I compare the girls children’s literature my grandmother read in the 1920s and 1930s Helen in the Editors Chair, Dorothy Dixon Earns Her Wings, Nancy Drew, the Dana Girls with even the good girls stuff that is coming out today which is mostly about getting a boy, instead of, you know, actually accomplishing something themselves, it makes me sick.

      I’ll never forget a comment by the original Dylan in a soap book where he said Dylan wasn’t a man, he was a woman’s dream of a man. (He wasn’t 100 percent right. They hadn’t introduced Danny Santos yet. 😉 I never forgot that and it depressed me. I want to believe there are good guys like that out somewhere other than in women’s heads. It would be interesting to learn what other men thought about acting in a woman driven medium.

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