Monday, September 5, 2011


Anybody watch the HBO special "Gloria, In Her Own Words"?   It's a portrayal of Gloria Steinem as a feeling thinking woman who became the iconic public face of the Women's Movement.  The narration is hers.  It's intimate.  The details, in some of her stories, are ordinary and relatable.  For example, she developed her trademark hair coloring of streaky highlighted hair because she loved Audrey Hepburn's hair in "Breakfast at Tiffany's."  She said she identified with Holly Golightly.  (really?)

She believed her looks to be an advantage in the women's movement but she did not want them to get in the way of her seriousness.  Makes sense.  She was the antithesis of how women in the early days of the movement were portrayed in the press.   Many people, women included,  thought of womens' libbers as unattractive, man-hating, angry broads out to destroy the family unit and AMERICA.  Sound familiar?

The Woman's Movement was condemned for having an agenda.  It was a tall order.  Steinem, along with the foremost forward thinking women of her day rallied, marched and worked to ratify the  Equal Rights Amendment and Roe v Wade.  Roe v Wade passed in 1973.  The ERA still hasn't been ratified in all 50 states and it's been in play since 1923.

What particularly stood out in this memoir was the vitriol she faced; how maligned she was and still is.  There is video of a shrill, hateful exchange from a woman caller to "The Larry King Show".  There was an incident of public flogging when some pornographer had a graffiti like portrait of her painted on the wall of her office building.  She's naked, her labia exposed, with hairy penises surrounding her.  She is overwhelmed.  She cries.  She's vulnerable.

Her experiences informed her views, her journalistic talent led her to explore and test those views with her readers.  As founder of Ms. Magazine in 1972, she started the first women's magazine written and published by women for women.  Dismissed and discounted as a flash in the pan, Ms. Magazine is still going strong today.  As is Gloria.



Ruth said...

I would love to read her book. I've been wanting to read more biographies, and hers would be good to start with. I had no idea the ERA has not been ratified in all 50 states. Yikes.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Back in 1975, she met with 8 or 10 members of a committee I chaired...the Progress of Women task force of a local chapter of Women in Communications. She was charming and personable and full of good, practical ideas and advice for advancing women's issues. Her example was not lost on us.

Grandmother said...

I've been an admirer for a long time. I'll get Gloria's book. Thanks for the review.

California Girl said...

Blissed Out: for somebody from a small town in MN, you've had some pretty cool encounters: first Bob Dylan, then Gloria. Who is next? We want to hear more!


by Cole Scott