Great women do not become great overnight. It takes years or even decades to be worthy of the title of greatness.
On Friday, Great Performances aired Gloria, A Life. Starring Christine Lahti, the play tells the life story of legendary second wave feminist Gloria Steinem. Via a small cast made up entirely of female performers, the audience is introduced to the real woman behind the icon.
I’m thrilled that this show was filmed for television. I didn’t see the play while it was open, though looking back, I wish I had. I loved it. It was educating, enthralling, and entertaining. If nothing else, the play is a reminder that the issue of women’s right is just a prevalent today as it was fifty years ago.
I absolutely recommend it.
Gloria, A Life can be streamed on the Great Performances website.
In theory, feminism is an easy concept to understand and an even easier cause to get involved in. But for any number of reasons, some women see feminism as the enemy.
The new series, Mrs. America premiered last month on Hulu. Set in the 1970’s, it follows the battle for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). It seems that ratification is on the horizon. Writer/activist Betty Friedan (Tracey Ullman), Representatives Bella Abzug (Margo Martindale) and Shirley Chisholm (Uzo Aduba), and journalist Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne) are four of the women who are the faces of the feminist movement. Their goal is to see the ERA enshrined as constitutional law. Standing in their way is Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett), a conservative activist and lawyer who will move political h*ll and high water to prevent the ERA from being ratified.
I’ve seen eight of the nine released episodes and I am hooked. The main thing that strikes me is that the issues that these women were fighting for fifty years ago are the same issues we are fighting for now. If nothing else, this series reminds me how far we have come and how far we need to go before American women are truly equal.
It also humanizes the characters, especially the ones that are based on real women. We see them as giants and icons, not as human beings who were as fallible as anyone walking down the street. That humanization also stretches to the women who were against the ERA.
From the liberal perspective, it would be easy to label them as right wing nut jobs who are siding with the patriarchy. But in this series, they are portrayed as women who are scared. From the time they were born, they were told that the ideal life is to marry, have children and maintain a home. When the second wave of feminism began to affect the culture in the 1960’s and 1970’s, it felt like the rug was pulled out from beneath their feet. I absolutely do not agree with their political or cultural perspective. However, I understand the feeling of not knowing what to do when you are told that everything you know and love is wrong.
I absolutely recommend it. I would also not be surprised if this series did very well come award season.
The final episode of Mrs. America premieres Wednesday on Hulu.
If nothing else, America is an idealistic nation. We are dreamers and fighters, we do not give up because we are told no.
We are also a nation that can be hypocritical.
August 18th is the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. In the nearly 100 years since the ratification of the 19th amendment, American women (and women across the world) have achieved what our grandmothers and great-grandmothers could have only dreamed of.
But with every battle that we have won, there is still much more work that is required of us if there is to be true equality between the sexes.
I would have liked very much to use the term “Madam President” this year. But there will be no women in either party on the ticket come this fall.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton’s loss to you know who was heartbreaking. This year, we had brilliant and capable women who might have done a bang up job as President. Senators Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar had all of the qualities one would want in a President.
Of all of the female nominees, Senator Elizabeth Warren came the closest. Some in the press are arguing that it was sexism that ultimately doomed her campaign. I can’t disagree with their arguments, even if she was not my first choice for President.
Though it is indisputable that these women will forever have a place in American history, it still does not dull the frustration of not being able to say “Madam President” in 2020.
This book is brilliant and a must read for anyone, regardless of gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. It throws off the old ideas of about women and the misconceptions of our sexuality. By throwing off these ideas, it forces readers to take a hard look at how women’s sexuality is viewed and what must be done so rape and sexual assault becomes a thing of the past.
In the past, when men were afraid of women, they accused them of being witches. But times have changed and the witches are coming for their accusers.
The Witches Are Coming is the title of Lindy West‘s new non fiction book. In the book, she examines and breaks down the sometimes painful ways in which anyone who is not a white heterosexual man is still disenfranchised.
I loved this book. While Ms. West does not pull punches, but she does so in a way that is humorous and speaks directly to the reader. I wish there were more books about feminism like this. Ms. West writes in such a manner that gets to the heart of the issues without getting on her soapbox. The book is well written, easily read and completely enjoyable.
When it comes to war and women, the general image that comes to mind is not the warrior on the battlefield. At best she the wife, the sweetheart or the mother doing her part on the home front while the men are fighting for their country. At worst, she is the victim of rape, enslavement or of a massacre.
Pamela D. Toler’s new book proves otherwise. Entitled Women Warriors: An Unexpected History, the book examines how women throughout history have taken up arms to protect their nation and their people. Jumping throughout time and different parts of the world, Dr. Toler examines the reasons why these women went to battle and the challenges they faced both as women and warriors.
I found this book to be fascinating. I loved that instead of focusing on one area of the world or one specific part of human history, the book spans the gamut from ancient times to the 20th century. My only warning is that some readers might consider the book to be a little too academic for their taste.
In Marilyn’s time, sexism was accepted. Pigeonholed into the ditzy and attractive blonde by the studio, Monroe wanted to prove that as an actress, she was much more than the dumb blonde. After making The Seven Year Itch (1955), she was eager to spread her professional wings. The success of the film and her campaign for the role gave Monroe the confidence to fight for her career, to earn her place in Hollywood and become the performer that she wanted to be.
I was surprised about this book. I knew that for many, she represents old Hollywood. I had heard of the acting classes she took and I knew of the two tumultuous marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller that ended in divorce. But I didn’t know that she fought for her later roles and fought to be seen as a real actress, not just a 2D caricature. Though the book is a little slow, it is still a good read and reminder of the power of women when we fight for what we want.
Like any social or cultural movement, Feminism is has multiple layers and multiple points of view. But where all of these layers and points of view come together is the absolute need for equality.
The Feminism Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained was published earlier this year. Written by DK Publishing and containing a forward by Lucy Mangan, the book covers every aspect of feminism, past and present. The book starts with the origins of Feminism, moves through the various phases of the movement and ends at the present day. Containing pictures, info-graphics, flow charts and profiles of famous women, this book explains Feminism in such a way that anyone can understand it.
I loved this book. It teaches without hitting the reader over the head or sounding like a dry academic textbook. I also appreciated the publisher included chapters about women of color and female members of the LGBTQ movement. When it comes to Feminism, these women are often set aside for cisgender White women who define themselves as upper class or middle class. If we are to succeed and achieve true equality, we cannot only focus on one group of women.
I’m not particularly religious, but as I get older, I realize that the stories in the Bible can still speak to us many generations after they were written.
Today is the Jewish holiday of Purim. It is the story of Esther. To make a long story short, Esther hides her Jewish identity while entered in a beauty contest to see who will become the next Queen of Shushan (modern-day Iran). When she is chosen to be the next Queen, she is faced with an impossible task: save her people from Haman’s wrath while risking her own life in the process.
Looking at the story of Purim through the lens of 2019, I feel like it still speaks to us. It speaks to us because of the growing intolerance that has become acceptable once more in our world.
It also speaks to us because Esther and her predecessor, Vashti, are also two of the strongest women in the Bible. When the King calls for Vashti to appear for all of his guests wearing only her crown (aka walking into a room full of strange, drunk men in her birthday suit), she says no and is sent away. This opens the door for Esther to become Queen and using what little power she has to stop Haman. Esther knows that her husband could easily send her away, or worse, send her to the executioner. But she is brave and knows that the only way to save herself and her people is to reveal who she really is.
The message I get from Purim is that it is possible to be ourselves and stand up to intolerance and hatred. We only need the guts to do so.