The Sexist, Servile Nostalgia of Pan Am and The Playboy Club

Two TV shows that premiere this fall are offensive in how the depict women in the work place.

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Grudging credit must be paid to television network programming executives, who unwittingly have figured out how to address that pesky problem of high unemployment.

Ladies, step off.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

Go home. Leave your jobs. Why would you want them? You get paid less, on average, than men anyway. Haven't you gotten the message yet? Those jobs belong to men, and if you leave the workforce, there will be more jobs available to the men of the house. Imagine how much the unemployment rate would drop if half the labor force got out of the game. Problem solved.

Mind you, there are a few jobs available to a select number of lithe, lovely women—at least according to television programming executives. And spots are, of course, serving men.

[Read: Betty Ford Was a Feminist Icon Just By Being Herself]

Following on the retro success of Mad Men, which is well-done, even if it romanticizes a time when martini-drinking men ran the show and women in tight sweaters took dictation, network television has given us two anti-female doozies: The Playboy Club and Pan Am. In the first, we see women squeeze themselves into tight satin bunny suits, serving drinks to men and girlishly blushing when one of the men (well, males, anyway, with the psycho-sexual development of an adolescent) hits on her. And how horrible it must be for the married and romantically involved bunnies—or rather, for their husbands and boyfriends, who have no problem going to the tacky club but don't want their own wives being pawed by other men who go to the tacky club. How did one patron manage to avoid such a terrible fate with the woman in his life? "I married her," he responded—then, "I made her pregnant and ugly." If that line is meant to make us all recoil in post-feminist shock, it doesn't work. It's offensive, and worse, it's just really, really bad writing.

Women who might want to wear a bit more clothing while serving men can be seen on Pan Am, a show about stewardesses. Not flight attendants, mind you—not the women (and now men) who are well-trained in safety procedures, keep their cool when there's turbulence or drunk passengers, and get paid appallingly little for it. No, these are women in tight skirts and heels who undergo "girdle checks" by superiors. These are not women who remind us of the very brave flight attendants who died in 9/11, or those who take charge during an in-flight crisis. No, they are, again, women whose job it is to serve men.

[Read: Rick Perry's Abysmal Record on Women's Health]

The economy is terrible, and in an extended period of bad times, it's common for people to wax nostalgic about an earlier era. And maybe it was simpler when women were less competitive in the labor force. But women are not willing to go back to a time when the only jobs available to them were as servants. We want more job options. Maybe even television programming executives.

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