Free To Be… You and Me: the Best-Selling Record and Popular Show Which Made America Rethink Gender Stereotypes

Authors

  • David Livingstone Palacký University Olomouc

Keywords:

feminism, gender identity, television, children’s entertainment

Abstract

Long before wide-spread discussion of “toxic masculinity,” “mansplaining” and “gender identity,” we had Free To Be... You and Me by Marlo Thomas and friends. This paper will examine the cultural and historical impact of this ground-breaking record album, illustrated booklet and television special from 1972 and 1974 respectively. This project was the brainchild of the popular actress and social activist Marlo Thomas, with the proceeds from the project going to support the Ms. Foundation For Women, an extremely influential feminist organization. A number of leading entertainers participated in the project: Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Alan Alda, to name but a few. Although initially met with great skepticism, the record and consequent television show became huge hits, becoming the sound-track for a generation of children growing up in the 1970s. I would argue that this project, more than anything else up until that time contributed to feminist consciousness raising and awareness of gender stereotyping and still has much to teach us today.

References

Cheney, Jen. “Mrs. America Recap: Free to Be You and Me.” Vulture, April 29, 2020. Available at: <https://www.vulture.com/2020/04/mrs-america-episode-5-recap-phyllis-and-fred-and-brenda-and-marc.html>.

Hart, Carole. “In the Beginning.” In When We Were Free To Be, edited by Lori Rotskoff and Laura L. Lovett, 35–40. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2012.

Kirschner, Dionne Gordon. “Free to Be Memories.” In When We Were Free To Be, edited by Lori Rotskoff and Laura L. Lovett, 21–26. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2012.

Pogrebin, Letty Cottin. “A Thousand Fond Memories and a Few Regrets.” In When We Were Free To Be, edited by Lori Rotskoff and Laura L. Lovett, 41–48. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2012.

Rotskoff Lori, and Laura L. Lovett. “Introduction.” In When We Were Free To Be, edited by Lori Rotskoff and Laura L. Lovett, 1–12. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2012.

Thomas, Marlo. Free To Be… You and Me. Bell Records, 1972.

Thomas, Marlo. Growing Up Laughing. New York: Hyperion, 2010. epub.Thomas, Marlo. “Prologue.” In When We Were Free To Be, edited by Lori Rotskoff and Laura L. Lovett, 13-20. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2012.

Waller, Davhi. Mrs. America. Shiny Penny Productions, 2020.

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Published

2021-12-06

How to Cite

Livingstone, D. . (2021). Free To Be… You and Me: the Best-Selling Record and Popular Show Which Made America Rethink Gender Stereotypes. American &Amp; British Studies Annual, 14, 41–51. Retrieved from https://absa.upce.cz/index.php/absa/article/view/2350

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Articles