Alan Alda, Feminist: M*A*S*H Star Was The Sensitive '70s Man

By | September 23, 2019

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Alan Alda at press conference for their television series MASH. Source: (Photo by Ann Clifford/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

In the '70s, there was one male celebrity whose name always came up in discussions of feminism: Alan Alda, M*A*S*H's Hawkeye Pierce. Feminism, at the time, was eyed with skepticism by many, perhaps most, American males. It was often dismissed as a movement of man-haters and bra-burners; those who marched and advocated for the concept of "Women's Liberation" were derided as "Women's Libbers." A man who declared himself a feminist was viewed sort of like a martian -- if not some kind of traitor.

Yet there was Alan Alda, an out and proud feminist, proving it day after day. He advocated for women's equality, he spoke out against the dark side of masculinity, and he even tried to make his character on M*A*S*H less of a chauvinist. And a lot of people snickered at him.

Alan Alda, 'Quiche Eater'

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Alan Alda on 'M*A*S*H.' Source: (

How was Alan Alda snickered at? Well, perhaps in a good-natured way, but also with a little bite. For all his progressive views -- a vision of maleness that is to some extent par for the course today -- he was often cited as the example of the new, soft man. Take this, from Bruce Feirstein's best-selling 1982 satirical book Real Men Don't Eat Quiche:

We’ve become a nation of wimps. Pansies. Quiche eaters. Alan Alda types—who cook and clean and relate to their wives.

That was Alan Alda, the punchline. But Alda took the cheap shots in stride and pressed on advocating for women. He once said, "I am a feminist insofar that I believe that women are people."