A dose of smart#8217; feminism courtesy of Winnie Cooper By Amanda VanDerBroek 08/10/2007 From 1988 to 1993, one of my favorite television shows was #8220;The Wonder Years.#8221; All that I needed to
Published 12:00 am Friday, August 10, 2007
From 1988 to 1993, one of my favorite television shows was “The Wonder Years.”
All that I needed to hear was Joe Cocker’s rusty voice singing the first few notes of “With a Little Help from My Friends” and I was unresponsive for an hour or at least until the first commercial.
I had a crush on the main character, Kevin Arnold, played by Fred Savage, and I was interested in the adolescent struggle with love, parents, friends and life in general.
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The show was unique for its time; it was coming of age story silhouetted with social and political problems that were prevalent in the 1960s and 1970s.
In fact, the very first episode of the series features Kevin’s love interest throughout the series, Winnie Cooper, dealing with the loss of her older brother who was killed in the Vietnam War.
“The Wonder Years” never drowned the viewers with the heavy issues; they merely highlighted them or gave the audience a nostalgic feel of the era.
These memories of watching “The Wonder Years” came back to me this week when watching a news program featuring Danica McKellar, who played Winnie Cooper.
McKellar was on the show to promote her new book “Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail.”
The book serves as guidance though middle school math for teenage girls and their parents. It also tell the story of McKellar’s “fear” toward math and how she over came it.
McKellar wrote the book to encourage young girls to embrace math, a school subject that carries a particularly nasty myth that the female gender is not as good at it as males.
Because that fable has been perpetuated throughout the years, girls have become insecure about their abilities in mathematics.
I was no different. I was riddled with anxiety every time I stepped into a math class.
To this day math freaks me out as I balance my checkbook with a calculator.
But, alas, women can be mathematicians and rocket scientists.
Many do not realize this, but McKellar went on to graduate Summa cum Laude from UCLA with a degree in mathematics and even proved a new math theorem called The Chayes-McKellar-Winn Theorem.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Not bad for a child star. At least she’s not smashing her Mercedes into a tree, driving the wrong way on a freeway or re-visiting rehab on a monthly basis.
Now days any good role model for children is hard to come by, especially for young girls. There is a culture of “dumb” that is rearing its ugly head with younger females and it is generally accepted by women and their male counterparts.
In an interview with Newsweek, McKellar responded to this “dumb culture” that is being pushed onto younger generations of girls.
“When girls see the antics of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, they think that being fun and glamorous also means being dumb and irresponsible,” she said. “But I want to show them being smart is cool. Being good at math is cool. And not only that, it can help them get what they want out of life.”
Finally an intelligent, beautiful, talented female for the masses. So long to the days of Britney Spears! So long to Paris and her small dogs! Oh, if it could only be.
Maybe if girls got their heads out of Hilton World and place their feet on the ground, “smart” feminism would be hip.
Amanda VanDerBroek is a staff writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (252) 332-7209.