Elizabeth grew up with this record as a little girl. I never heard it till I was in high school–I think it was Suzanne who spearheaded its resurgence. I listened to it a lot as a teenager, and for a teenage to listen to a dumb kids’ album, it must have been revelatory. Gender roles were so pervasive growing up, and so corrupting to the soul. This album was such a weapon in the battle against patriarchy, conscripting children into the fight, using humor and logic and emotion and story and song.
Of course, it’s terribly dated now because it buys into the gender binary even as it blows up gender roles and gender expression. It’s a hand drill in an age of power tools. What is today’s Free to Be … You and Me? From my experience, I’d say it’s Steven Universe. All the humor and kindness, celebrity appearances, and catchy tunes, plus a deep story, great animation, and an expanded outlook, all in the service of recruiting people of all ages into the fight against conformity and oppression.
It’s amazing when deeply countercultural works can spread through networks that exist to support the status quo. Here’s to the miracle of Marlo Thomas and the miracle of Rebecca Sugar. Part of what I can do is listen and signal-boost positive messages. We haven’t reached that land where the children run free yet, but we’re still growing in our understanding of what that freedom looks like.