I have in my possession, two seasons of the old family drama The Waltons. My dear brother got them for me for Christmas the last few years. For the most part, I really love watching them. Compared to most media options available these days, they are refreshing, relatively wholesome, with enough humor to keep it entertaining. Mostly, I listen to them when I am alone in the evenings, doing dishes and such.
However, there is one aspect that drives me a little crazy. The character of Mary Ellen. She is the oldest girl, and something of an early feminist. She's around thirteen years old, and tends to be scatterbrained, something of a bully, a bit of a tomboy, very selfish, and full of moods and tempers. She has no interest in doing womanly things like cooking, keeping house, or the like. She'd rather be off inventing something, exploring something, or imagining life away from home.
Her character really irritates me at times, as she's always complaining and whining about something. She constantly gripes about having to do dishes and ironing, and tends to let things burn in the kitchen. She also seems to think somehow that the boys/men in the family have it all so great because they don't have to do the "boring household jobs" like she does. She tends to be very ungrateful for the daily services and sacrifices offered by her mother and father.
In essence, I think the script writers were trying to sneak in some feminist propaganda, but they put it in a younger, less important character, so that it could be labeled as rebellious youth, and wouldn't offend older, traditional viewers.
I wish they had done an episode where the parents get so fed up with her moods and ingratitude that they allow her to switch roles and be a boy. She would be made to work in the family's sawmill for eight or ten hours, and have to load and unload lumber, and help saw trees with a cross-cut saw, and see how she likes it.
She also needs to be made to see how willing she is to accept other peoples' sacrifce on her behalf, made because they love her, but how unwilling she is to sacrifice her own time, comfort, convenience, or amusement for the same people who love her so much, and do so much for her.
She doesn't seem to see what her life would be like if her parents and grandparents acted like she does, and if they treated her like she treats them.
I wish I could hold a discussion about this with some of the young girls growing up today, whom, I think, hold to a similar mentality. Girls whose parents provide them with so much, and yet they aren't at all grateful for it, but think it's their right. Teen girls who have no appreciation for the work that goes into their provision, and no desire to lighten that load or pay back in some way, a portion of what they received. They are just content to live each day, with their hands out, whining, complaining, making life miserable for those who love them more than they deserve.