Mary Tyler Moore: Timeless Independent Woman Blueprint

Hard to believe it’s been over six months since Mary Tyler Moore passed away.

I don’t strongly identify with the label Millennial, nor do I strongly identify with the label feminist. I am an equalist and I appreciate pop culture and people of all generations in their different ways. Both the character of Mary Tyler Moore, whom she played on television back in the late 1960’s and much of the 1970’s, as well as Mary Tyler Moore the woman were even-keeled and balanced in temperament and all things as I think I am too. Am I this way due to some influence of Mary Tyler Moore? Damn right!

My mother grew up watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show, I grew up watching the show on Nick at Nite and being the daughter of fan means that the way my mom is, was influence by Mary and so I too through an osmosis of pop culture influence would be influenced whether I had or hadn’t known of or seen the woman.

I strive for balance in life, heck I even did a big project in my senior year of high school where we had to pick one of the seven virtues, which are basically the inverse of the seven deadly sins. I chose temperance, says it all really. I’m born on a cusp, I’m an only child, I’m an ambivert, ambidextrous and I’m quite open-minded to my detriment at times. With well-roundedness one needs a sense and skill in balancing, and Mary Tyler Moore is quite a good role model to choose in that respect. So for me she did, as with others, leave quite a poignant mark on me.

She left a blueprint for women who if they chose could be independent and still demure and feminine too. We can’t all be assertive like some women can, in that almost domineering way that intimidates with a glance. Some of us are like Mary Tyler Moore, in that we want to be a people pleaser, we want to create harmony and stop discord. We also are quite shy, awkward a little passive, and in a way that could all be summed up as “little girlish,” but it’s not. Mary Tyler Moore made it ok to be independent, successful and dorkily sweet.

I think Candice Bergen said it best, about what made Moore’s passing particularly poignant universally speaking:

“Mary Tyler Moore really opened the door for women —I think Mary Tyler Moore really made women feel entitled to a career and to be defined without a man.”



When Mary Tyler Moore’s ex-husband Grant Tinker Passed Away

On a promotional tour for her autobiography After All in October 1996, Mary Tyler Moore spoke with NPR News reporter Greta Cunningham about about the groundbreaking television show and how it made such an impact on the women’s movement at the time:

“In order to make points back then it seemed to most of us that you had to get up on a soapbox and make the point, whatever the argument was. And we weren’t doing that. Ours was an honest reflection of the truth in society.”

Her thoughts on the women’s movement:

“If anyone cares to hear my reflections on the women’s movement, and by that I don’t mean necessarily the one begun with Betty Friedan, but just in general. I’ve come to realize, and perhaps because of my own mistakes, that it’s a myth to think that you can have it all. I don’t believe that anymore. I don’t think you can be the best executive or the best actress in the world and also have a healthy, well-adjusted child. I think particularly in the early years of  a child’s life it needs its mother. And as involved as men are becoming in the process of raising children, it is applaudable, but it is not the essence of what makes a healthy, loved, properly prepared kid whose eventually going to become a grown-up who goes out into life.”


Photo credit: Tom (Fickr)