Thursday, February 28, 2013

Gloria Steinem Comes Out: What's Her Next Frontier


(Photo:  Ms. Foundation)

Yes, that’s Gloria Steinem at work at Ms., the feminist magazine she and a dedicated crew (see picture below) founded more than 40 years ago.  Hers was one of the stories featured in Makers: Women Who Make America, the PBS documentary on the last 50 years of the women’s movement that aired earlier this week.  (If you missed it you can watch it online; here’s the PBS link.)  The New York Times review dubbed Gloria the star.  But now she's off to the next frontier. 


The Early Women's Movement

There were many women who spoke out and fought for women’s equality during that early period.  Gloria was the soft spoken and methodical one who believed "if we just explained it (sexism) to people, that it was so unjust, that surely it would change."  And she continues speaking out today making sure that younger generations of women understand the past so they can build better futures for themselves and the world.  


There are still battles to be fought and won—or in some cases won again. (Currently, there are campaigns to remake abortion illegal and to deny women birth control.)  And, there is a new quiet but insidious “ism” that when combined with sex discrimination denies women their rightful place in the world.  Of course, we're talking about ageism.

Sexism and now Ageism

Gloria, speaking at the last Journalism & Women Symposium (JAWS), told the audience, “I’m 78.  Telling your real age is the new coming out.”  The women who broke down one barrier are ready to take on the next even if they are no longer in their 20s and 30s.  

Ms. Magazine 40th Anniversary Reunion, Photo Courtesy of Mary Kay Blakely
That's the Ms. staff in the photo above at their 40th anniversary party in Manhattan last November.  Gloria is in the front row with Letty Cottin Pogrebin, a Ms. founding editor, (one in from the rightwho was also featured in Makers along with her daughter and husband.  Mary Kay Blakely, who we wrote about in a Second Life Profile last May, is in the top row on the right end.)


How many of us are timid about revealing our age?  Does that reticence suggest denial and a fear of being disregarded?  If we don’t own our age, does that in some way contribute to the ongoing discrediting of older people?   How can we in our second lives change the defeating and demoralizing myths about chronological age?  Here's a quote from another iconic magazine (Vogue) editor, Diana Vreeland, “I shall die very young…70, 80, or 90.  But I shall die very young.”

You can hear Gloria Steinem talk about aging at a TEDx Women conference in 2011.  It will make you "happy" about getting older.




9 comments:

  1. This is such an important topic. I never felt I had to hide my age until I was laid off a couple of years ago. Or I should say, I never felt "old" until that happened. But since that time, I have at times felt diminished since that experience. Now that I am not fully employed (though I do have work, hallelujah), I feel that my age is a real barrier when I apply for jobs. I have had a few interviews, thought they went well but never made it to the next step. This has never before been my experience. Yet when I do work with someone on a project, I realize that I have much knowledge, good judgement, and experience to offer.
    This post reminds me that I should be proud of my age, not ashamed. I guess we change the myths by being ourselves: smart, fit, and with it, because we are!

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    1. Ihave always felt that it's more about how everyone else reacts to our age than how we do. But I suppose you are right; if we are forthright and confident about our age, that's the start to dismissing any stigmas. Thanks.

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  2. I just recently re-read Mary Kay Blakely's American Mom for a novel about women's groups that I am writing, googled her and found this site! I am so glad. As I've been reading American Mom - I've been taking notes - to pass along to my daughters-in-law who just became moms and finally had so many - I just ordered them each the book. And YES we need to claim our age. If we are lucky enough to be healthy and have reached "old" then lets revel in being the wise old crones that we are! (Okay, if we can't all revel - at least not hide)

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  3. I have always been upfront about my age. Maybe because it used to elicit a response of something like they thought I was younger. Kind of self-serving I guess.

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    1. My dermatologist who of course knows my real age told me I could easily go for te years younger. I'll take it.!

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  4. now you see the photo and say,"Wow, she is demented because she looks so OLD".

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  5. When you don't have regular employment, you don't share your age. Sad, but true. Stupid but true.

    And this 'ism is worse than the other, exactly because we are older.

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    1. Again it's the reaction of others that keeps me from offering my age. And why should it be important anyway?

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