Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Hot Pants Romance - Young Love's "Daughter of Women's Lib" (October/November 1973)

"I was a girl in hot pants,
driven to steal a boy's job -- a boy I loved!"

Hello there! Happy Women's History Month! To kick it off, I have for you the classic DC story "Daughter of Women's Lib" from Young Love #106 (October/November 1973) (interior story art by Mike Sekowsky, I believe)! Before Sue Kiernan was a hot pants devotee , she was just a sweet and sensible sixteen year old on the hunt for romance and equality.

Sue's mother is an activist in the Women's Movement (or Women's Lib as they called it back then in the romance comics) and relentless in sticking up for what she believes in. Sue has come to terms with her mother's beliefs, and although Sue is aligned with many of those beliefs, she can't help but feel sorry for her father who shoulders the domestic duties of the household.

Her mother's outspokenness about the Women's Movement also creates hesitation for Sue when it comes to bringing her boyfriend, Mike Hudson home to hang out at her house. Mike worries that she is embarrassed by his summer job at a local gas station, but she comforts him telling him that she doesn't invite him over because her house is "such a drag."

One day when Sue goes to the gas station to pick Mike up from work, she stumbles upon a summer job opportunity pumping gas. Mike's boss, Mr. Corbett, is more than happy to hire her -- much to Mike's chagrin. Having secured a typically "male" job, Sue's mother is particularly pleased.

Sue is quite successful pumping gas and Mr. Corbett suggests that she take it to the next level by donning a pair of tight fitting hot pants. Sue complies and business soars. So pleased with the results of her new "uniform," Mr. Corbett announces that he will be hiring another young lady to help Sue. Concerned for the fate of Mike's position at the station, Sue asks Mr. Corbett what will happen to him. Unaware Mike is standing behind him, Mr. Corbett tells her not to worry, "Business is business. Besides, he'll be going back to school soon." Mr. Corbett crosses the line by putting his hands on the teenager's shoulders and as Sue shutters, declares that she is his favorite and that he thinks he is in love with her.

Mike quits and storms out. Sue bursts into tears and Mr. Corbett "consoles" Sue by giving her a raise and a highly inappropriate kiss on the lips. Mr. Corbett obviously did not get the memo that what we know today as sexual harassment was technically prohibited by the 1964 Civil Right Act's Title VII!

Just in the nick of time, Sue's mom arrives to pick her up. Though Ms. Kiernan doesn't witness the kiss initiated by Mr. Corbett, she does see Sue's skimpy outfit and immediately whisks her away from the scene -- much to Sue's relief. Interestingly, Sue's mom places the blame on her, calling Sue a "little fool" rather than directly holding Mr. Corbett accountable.

The rest of the summer passes uneventfully with Sue and Mike no longer speaking to one another. When school starts back up in the fall, Sue sees Mike with a new girlfriend -- jabbing at her heart. During a class assignment, Sue boldly starts to tell the class about losing Mike. Quickly realizing what she is doing, Sue stops and asks to be excused for a headache. Upon returning home, she bursts into tears.

Sue's mother listens to her daughter's woes, but their conversation is disrupted by a certain Mr. Corbett who shows up unexpectedly to their house. His impromptu visit is twofold; first he apologizes to Ms. Kiernan for asking Sue to wear hot pants and second, he announces that he has brought Sue a gift as an apology. And what is the gift, you wonder?! The gift is nothing other than Mike himself, wanting to reconcile with his sweetheart.

Interesting story, wouldn't you say? The highly intriguing Creig Flessel cover is a tad misleading (placing more agency on Sue than she seems to have in the actual story) but is effective in drawing the reader in. What do you think? Did the story live up to your expectations?

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