Tag Archives: Betty Friedan

I May Not March In This Year’s Women’s March and That Makes Me Sad

This Saturday is the annual Women’s March. Around the world, millions of men and women will make it clear that times are changing. We will not stand by anymore and be treated as second class citizens.

I have participated in the last few marches, proud to have made my voice heard. This year, I may not march and that makes me sad. The charges of antisemitism and hateful words have poisoned this march, limiting (in my mind at least), the good things that have come about.

Tamika Mallory and Bob Bland, two of the leaders of the Women’s March were guests on The View today.

When asked about the prejudiced remarks by Louis Farrakhan, Ms. Mallory said that she doe not agree with his remarks, but she did state that she could not condemn such remarks. She makes this statement starting at 6:28.

The thing that makes me angry is that Jewish women have been part of the foundation of the American feminist movement since begging. Rose Schneiderman and Clara Lemlich Shavelson were two of the women who got this movement started in the early 20th century. Betty Friedan (author of The Feminine Mystique) and Gloria Steinem were part of a group of women who kept the ball rolling in the 1960’s and 1970’s. All of these women are Jewish.

I am proud to be a feminist. I am proud of how far we have come and how we continue to fight for our rights in spite of the obstacles in front of us.

But I cannot be proud of my sisters-in-arms who would denigrate me as a Jewish woman and deny the place of Jewish women in the history of the American feminist movement.

For that alone, I am sad and I may not march this weekend.

 

 

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A House Divided Cannot Stand And A Feminist Movement Cannot Prevail With Hate

There is an old saying: a house divided cannot stand.

A political movement whose ultimate goal is equality cannot last when hate worms its way into the movement.

Theresa Shook is one of the founders and leaders of Women’s March, the face of the modern feminist movement. She has called on her co-founders to step down due after accusations of antisemitism and anti-gay sentiments were made known to the public.

To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. If we are marching and protesting to ensure equality for one group of people, we must do the same for all. We cannot say one thing in private and say something else in public. We cannot demand equal rights for all women in public and in private make antisemitic and anti-gay remarks in the private.

In case these women forgot, this generations feminists did not just become feminists out of thin air. We stand on the shoulders of Bella Abzug, Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem. All three of these women are not just icons of the second wave of feminism, but Jewish as well. The fact that antisemitism has infected Women’s March spits on these women who paved the way for us to fight for our rights.

When we have true equality, it will happen when we work together, not when we denigrate one another because of religion or sexuality.

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Dirty Dancing TV Movie Review

*Warning-This review contains minor spoilers. Read at your own risk if you have not seen it.

Dirty Dancing is one of those movies. It became an instant classic when it hit theaters in 1987. Everything about that movie is iconic. The music, the story, the characters, etc, are instantly recognizable.

It’s therefore no wonder that ABC rebooted the movie last night into a television movie musical with Abigail Breslin and Colt Prattes stepping into the very large shoes of Jennifer Grey and the late Patrick Swayze.

It’s still the summer of 1963. Frances “Baby” Houseman is on vacation with her doctor father, Jake (Bruce Greenwood), homemaker mother, Marjorie (Debra Messing) and elder sister Lisa (Sarah Hyland) at a resort in the Catskills. About to go to college and enter the real world, Baby is full of hopes and dreams, but also sheltered from the world by her parents.

She becomes infatuated with Johnny Castle, one of the resort’s dance teachers and steps up to become his dance partner when his regular dance partner, Penny (Nicole Scherzinger) gets pregnant and goes to a less than reputable doctor to have an abortion. While their relationship starts off as merely dance partners, they soon become more than dance partners, but their differences may tear them apart.

I very much appreciated that certain narratives and characters were expanded from the original movie. In the original movie, Lisa is a stereotype and Mrs. Houseman is a background player. In this version, Lisa is a deeper character (i.e. she is convinced by Baby to read The Feminine Mystique and see her herself as more than a girl who just wants to get married). Like many women of her generation, Mrs. Houseman was told that they should get married and have families. While they have done this, there is an aching need for something more. I also appreciated that Abigail Breslin is not a size 2.

For the most part, the creative team stuck to the story and characters that the audience anticipated. But there was something missing, something that the movie has that the television version does not.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Why I Re-Read A Strange Stirring

In 2017, it’s easy for modern women to appreciate the rights and accomplishments that we can call our own. But, at the same time, we don’t have to travel that far to go back to a time when a woman’s sphere was limited to that of a wife, mother and homemaker.

Today I finished re-reading A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s by Stephanie Coontz. In the book, Ms. Coontz examines now only the impact of Betty Friedan’s world-changing book, The Feminine Mystique, but also the criticism that was lobbied at the book and Ms. Friedan.

I re-read A Strange Stirring for two reasons: 1) how far women have come in a short span of 2-3 generations and 2) I needed reminder of how complex the feminist movement is. It is more than the right to vote or to own property or to receive an education. It is our continued fight to be seen and appreciated as the complex and complicated human beings that we are.

I also recommend it, in case anyone has not read it.

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RIP Florence Henderson

There is no one like Mom. She smells of home cooking, fresh laundry and reminds us of home.

Florence Henderson passed away yesterday. Best remembered for playing Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch (1969-1974), Florence was seen as America’s mother.

In 1969, America was changing. While The Brady Bunch was wholesome, unaffected and unabashedly simple at times, it was also charming and reminded us of the love and the chaos of family. Carol Brady is a widow with three little girls. Mike Brady is a widower with three little boys. The Brady Bunch lasted five years, but lives on in reruns. What makes The Brady Bunch interesting from a television perspective is that while it was not the domestic comedies of the early 1950’s, it was represented the changes in the world. There wouldn’t be a Cosby Show, Family Ties or Modern Family without The Brady Bunch. Inspired by the feminist movement, more women were entering the working world, marrying later, divorcing their husbands and were more educated than their mothers and grandmothers.

Betty Freidan, Carol Brady was not. But she was a single mother who saw the possibilities in her daughters. She was also a wife who was a very happily married woman with a very active sex life.

RIP Florence Henderson.

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Why I Re-Read Bad Feminist

This past weekend, I finally purchased a copy of Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist. I’ve been in love with this book for nearly two years, but I was not sure if I wanted to buy it. On Sunday I gave in.

So, in no specific order, here are the reasons I re-read Bad Feminist…

• Bad Feminist is this generation’s The Feminine Mystique. Just like Betty Friedan’s now classic book asked our grandmothers to ask themselves hard questions, this book asks our generation to ask hard questions.
• Ms. Gay makes no apologies for who she is and what she believes in.
• She is not afraid to reveal her imperfections to the readers.
• She does not tolerate b*llsh*t, especially from members of the male sex who think they know more than she does.
• Her twitter feed is awesome and never dull.
• She is not afraid to call out the chinks in the armor of the feminist movement: the limited visibility of women of color, the limited visibility of LGBTQ women and other women who are doubly or triply stigmatized for their race, sex, sexual preference, etc.
• She would rather be a bad feminist than not be a feminist at all.

And those are the reasons why I re-read Bad Feminist.

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History Made: The First Female Presidential Nominee In America

Somewhere in heaven, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul and Betty Friedan are all cheering.

This week, Hillary Clinton accepted the democratic nominee for the 2016 Presidential race.

The glass ceiling is starting to crack in ways it has never cracked before.

The Seneca Falls Convention took place on July 19th and 20th in 1848.

The 19th amendment was ratified on August 18th, 1920.

It took American women 72 years from the earliest days of the Suffragette movement to gain the right to vote. This year celebrates the 96th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. We’ve come a very long way, but there will be many more battles ahead. I have been waiting to hear the words “Madam President” for a long time. I will be voting for Hillary come November.

I’m with her.

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Hillary Clinton, The Stanford Rape & The State Of Feminism In America

Last week, women in America both cheered and were reminded once more of how far we need to go.

The ultimate  glass ceiling was broken when Hillary Clinton clinched the nomination for the Democratic nomination.  Somewhere  in heaven Alice Paul, Eleanor Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony and Betty Friedan are cheering.

While I was not persuaded to vote for Bernie Sanders, I admired his gutsy approach to government if he won the election.  The reason many Americans (myself included) feel frustrated with the government and the general voting process is that it feels more like a secret smoky backroom deal rather than a government of the people, by the people, for the people.  He wanted the average Joe or Jane on the street to feel like they truly had a say in how their country was being run. For that, I thank Bernie Sanders and I hope Hillary will take that with her as she battles towards November.

Then the news of the Stanford rape broke and it felt like one step forward, two steps back. The fact that Brock Turner received a much lighter sentence that maximum 14 years in prison is a cold slap in the face that while we have female presidential nominee, women are still thought to be mindless sex objects.

The fight continues.

Happy Monday.

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Throwback Thursday- Thelma and Louise (1991)

Once upon a time, women were taught to settle down and maintain a quiet life. Support their husband, raise their children and take care of the home. Nothing more.

Betty Friedan explored this issue in her 1963 classic feminist text, The Feminine Mystique. She labelled it “the problem that has no name”.

The 1991 movie, Thelma and Louise completely destroyed the idea that a woman had to be meek, amiable and subservient. Louise (Susan Sarandon) works as a waitress and lives with her musician boyfriend who is always on the road.  Thelma (Geena Davis) stays in the kitchen so her husband can watch football.  Needing a break from their hum-drum lives, Thelma and Louise decide to go on a road trip. Their road trip takes a sudden turn when Louise kills the man who tries to rape Thelma and they are now hunted by the police.

This is nothing but a classic. The journey of the characters represents so many women who made the choice to cut the apron strings that kept them tied to hearth and home and take the road less traveled. And of course,  no mention of Thelma and Louise is complete without Brad Pitt’s boy toy character and that six pack of his.

Dam good movie.

 

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Fear Of Flying, 41 years Later

Warning: This post contain spoilers. If you have not read Fear Of Flying or you are planning to read in the future,  and do not want to be spoiled, do not read this post. I will understand.

Fear Of Flying, the classic (and sometimes controversial, depending on your point of view) novel by Erica Jong is 41 this year.

The central character is Isadora Wing, a 27 year old woman traveling with her second husband to a work conference. She dreams of the zipless f*ck, the ultimate sexual fantasy. That dream comes in the form of Adrian Goodlove, a man who will fulfill the fantasy and forces her to ask the tough questions she has been avoiding.

Fear Of Flying was published at the height of the second wave of the Feminist movement, when the old rules and the barriers that kept women confined were being torn down.  Jong and Isadora, her literary doppelganger are part of the generation who were born during World War II and came of age in the rigid 1950’s and early 1960’s.  We can look back now and see that the rules of that era were very straightforward and simple, but to the girls growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, it was confusing time made even more confusing by the double standard. Fear Of Flying was a shock to the reading public, just as Helen Gurley Brown’s Sex and The Single Girl and Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was during the early 1960’s.

Jong, borrowing from Charlotte Bronte, uses her main character to guide us through the story. We see the world through Isadora’s eyes.  Her life is complicated. She is on her second marriage to a man who was one of her many psychoanalysts, her first husband is confined in a mental institution. Her relationship with her family is awkward and full of drama. She has big goals, but the fear keeps her from working towards those goals.

I read this book when I was 27, the same age as Isadora.  I understood who she was within the first few pages. Isadora represents and speaks for many of us when we are in our late 20’s. We are adults, but we may still be mired in our pasts or our fears keep us from reaching for our dreams, whatever they maybe.

When it comes to books, I usually take it as a good sign that within the first chapter, I can dive in emotionally early to the story and connect with the characters. I understood Isadora within the first few pages, I was hooked by the time I completed the first chapter. Jong is a master storyteller, her years of writing, introspection and using that introspection to emotionally connect to the reader and bring them into the world of her characters.

I highly recommend this book.

 

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