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Al Martinez

Notes From the MLF

August 21, 1986|AL MARTINEZ

As I understand the moment, Ed Anhalt was hunched over a drink in the old Cock and Bull with a fellow screenwriter when the subject of women came up.

Well, actually, I don't know that he was hunched over his drink exactly, but I do know that they were talking about women.

Their conversation had nothing to do with a female's sexual attributes, by the way, although that might have been mentioned earlier or possibly even later.

They were griping about . . . well . . . justice.

Ed began it by talking about the lousy community property laws and how they favored wives in a divorce.

His pal, who shall remain nameless, suggested that the laws were probably initiated by husbands who were afraid of their wives or who felt guilty because of adulterous relationships.

Ed agreed and said that the statutes were no doubt unconstitutional, however, since they interfered with the basic religious nature of marriage.

The nameless writer nodded somberly and added that if marriage wasn't religious, then the state was tampering with a private partnership, which was worse.

Well, Ed replied, if it's a partnership, the nature of the partnership should be negotiated before marriage.

Just about then, the two realized they agreed on just about every aspect of the marital relationship's inhumanity to man, specifically from the standpoint of community property laws.

So they organized the Male Liberation Front.

No one seems to know exactly why it was born or where it is supposed to go, although it seemed like a good idea at the time.

True, a lot of ideas seem good and some even brilliant after a couple of drinks, but the MLF continued to be interesting even the next morning when many of the plans and relationships born in a bottle die in a waste basket.

So Ed kept mentioning it to other friends and pretty soon the MLF caught on. Unfortunately, however, I can't tell you how well it caught on or who its members are other than Ed Anhalt. That's all secret.

"We're essentially a guerrilla outfit," Ed said one morning in his Santa Monica Canyon home.

He is a bullet-domed man of 72. His head is shaved bald, which makes him look a little like Benito Mussolini, although he is considerably more pleasant and does not thrust his chin out when he speaks.

Also, Ed has no interest in conquering Ethiopia.

"Some of our members are terrified of their wives," he said. "We have to be very careful. The price of injuring a wife's pride is a trip to Neiman-Marcus."

Part of Ed's unhappiness with California's community property laws is that he has been divorced three times and each time has gone broke paying off an ex-wife.

"I had an art gallery with one of the wives," he said. "When we split up, she got half of the art gallery and half of the house. But when she got half of my residuals, that was too much."

Ed is no lightweight in the film industry, having won Oscars for "Becket" and "Panic in the Streets," so his residuals are nothing to sneeze at.

"My main interest now," he said, "is to define the terms of a marriage partnership. What, for instance, is the function of a wife?

"Once a woman's job was to keep house for a man, to bring up his children and to be a social companion for his business. She also performed sexual duties, but it would be illegal to pay for that.

"Today, all a woman does is protest."

That would not bother him so much, Ed adds, except that "most women involved in the liberation movement are free to do so because they have husbands who pay for their illegal maids. That's what they mean by liberation."

So.

What we have here, I think, is just a group of nice guys who are unhappy with the increasingly bizarre conduct of women in today's world.

I know how they feel because I, too, have borne the brunt of the feminist movement's more hostile gesture, which is to say the raised middle finger of the right hand. I like to think of it as the Gloria Steinem Salute.

That's not all. I have been cursed by women in terms that would make a stevedore blush and I can't count the number of times a car driven by a young broad has tried to run me off the road.

An organization like the Male Liberation Front offers the only protection for men in the secret war being waged by the feminist movement.

So what we ought to do, guys, is all join the MLF, organize an army and, with appropriate ritual, surrender.

Right. Give up.

Then women will get exactly what they want: the right to work day and night, the right to drive the freeways during rush hour, the right to be kicked around by several bosses, and the right to die from cardiac failure due to the stress of trying to succeed.

We, on the other hand, will exist as prisoners of war, fed and cared for by our captors and forced to remain at home all day.

It won't be easy accepting the rigors of defeat, but then, what the hell, the rigors of victory haven't been all that sweet either.

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