WOMEN

Why 'Miracle On 34th Street' Is A Feminist Classic

John Payne stands in back of Maureen O'Hara as she holds a coffee pot in a scene from the film 'Miracle On 34th Street', 1947
John Payne stands in back of Maureen O'Hara as she holds a coffee pot in a scene from the film 'Miracle On 34th Street', 1947. (Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)

As a young girl, I watched reruns of “I Love Lucy” with my mom every day after school. I remember an episode where Ricky spanked Lucy, and I laughed. My mom freaked out, and I learned that a man was never to hit a woman. Ever. And that a woman could do more than be the mischievous housewife Lucy was.

Thinking back on the other women I saw on TV at the time (Mrs. Cunningham; Janet and Cindy; Jeannie; Mrs. Ingles; and Laura of Luke and Laura), few were particularly strong role models. I had to rely on my own life, which was luckily filled with the independent women absent from media. As I got older, I saw “Annie Hall” and never quite understood why she was such an inspiration to women of her time, until a professor recently broke it down for me: Until Annie Hall, women didn’t have their own pursuits (on the big screen and TV), they didn’t dress like men, and they certainly weren’t single in the city.

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