August 16, 2011

Gloria Steinem "In My Own Words" HBO Documentary

Last night was the premiere of the HBO documentary "Gloria: In My Own Words" about the iconic feminist, Gloria Steinem. It was so great to hear about her life from her own voice. Reminded me of the Bill Cunningham documentary. You get a sense of their passion.

She started her career as a freelancer writer in New York (no Carrie Bradshaw). The only things that were available for women to write about was fashion and beauty. She cringes about having to write about panty hoses. When she would look for apartments, many landlords didn't want to rent an apartment to a single woman. Her instincts told her "this isn't fair."

She was inspired by the women at the abortion trials in the late 1960s. She said she realized "I wasn't crazy, the system was." Feminism started out as a simple idea and ended up being a world view because so many women felt these injustices. She clarified how the Women's Liberation movement wasn't getting revenge on men but feminism has always been about equal rights for men and women. They wanted to humanize both roles.

She faced a lot of challenges, the main issue being her looks. She was viewed as the pretty feminist. She worked hard and the results were always attributed to looks. Esquire even turned her into a sexualized comic book character for one of their issues. She was disgusted by it.

Another issue, unfortunately, was women themselves. Betty Friedman, co-founder of N.O.W., and Steinem didn't get along. Betty was the "mother" of the movement and didn't like anyone who threatened her power. There was also an interview from The Larry King show where a woman called into the show saying that Steinem ruined American families and she should rot in hell. I was shocked! I'm grateful for everything that Ms. Steinem has done for women. A big challenge in the feminist community is that women still put each other down. We still can't be happy for other women's successes. It's very disheartening.

She also touched on the topic of why she never had children and putting off marriage. She said she never felt compelled to have children and doesn't regret it. Her magazine was her child. Having children shouldn't be a part of a woman's identity. I definitely relate and agree with her. And she had a great quote from Breakfast at Tiffany's about marriage "I won't let anyone put me in a cage." She did marry in her 50s but her husband passed away from a brain tumor.

Hearing all the opinions of men in those days made me disgusted. I can't imagine a society that believed women belonged in the kitchen but it wasn't that long ago. Her advice to younger women was "listen to the voice inside you and follow it." The primary thing is that they know who they are and not have someone telling them.

She quoted Susan B. Anthony and I think it's very true. The thing that would probably most kill the feminist movement is women not caring anymore. "Our job is not to make women grateful but ungrateful so they keep going."

Are you going to check out the documentary?

Image via Indie Wire

1 comment:

  1. I have always admired her in a vague way, but I really need to find out more about her to make that more concrete! Thank you for this post, I'll definitely check out the documentary!

    ReplyDelete

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