Saturday, July 30, 2016

On Gloria Steinem . . .

Friday's snapshot noted some of Gloria Steinem's failures -- as did Sunday's "Why Gloria Steinem's CIA past still matters (Ava and C.I.)."

A few drive-by e-mails are confused.

Some are confused because I'm criticizing Gloria.

At the start of 2005, Ava and I started writing together at THIRD.  We have repeatedly stated we present "a feminist view," not "the feminist view."

That's because feminism has many views.

And it should have many voices.

I would be opposed to any pig -- that's you, Gloria -- who refused to step aside from her self-appointed leadership role of the feminist movement after so many decades -- 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s and now 10s.

Gloria and her crowd forced Betty Friedan out of that role in 1972.

At 51, one of the arguments against Betty was that she was too old for leadership.  Gloria's now 81 years old.

At best, she's a victim of her own vanity.  At best.

It's funny because in her book OUTRAGEOUS blah, blah, blah (I feel no need to promote her crap), she argues that it is revolutionary for a man to pass on a job that a female candidate is right for.

I don't disagree with that.

But I also believe it's revolutionary for an egomaniac to step aside.

She could have done that by recommending other women be spoken to by the press.

But she didn't.

She wanted to be a star.

Let's pull back for a second.

Some drive-bys are confused because I've praised Gloria in the past.

I have.

I'm not static.

I'm capable of change.

Equally true, people can sometimes deserve praise and sometimes not.

In Gloria's case, the leadership issue was always going to be an issue.

But it's equally true that her going along -- on California radio -- with the suggestion (in 2008) that Sarah Palin should be at home with her child and not running on a presidential ticket pissed me the hell off.

I have defended Gloria for decades.  I've known her for decades.

When people have criticized her -- even friends -- I've shrugged or just ignored them.

What Gloria did on the radio in 2008 was not feminism.

And as it and other things piled up, check the archives at Third (especially in 2009), I took a new look at Gloria.

I did that by calling friends who are feminists and were part of those battles.

I wasn't.

I am a feminist.

I don't have time for the cliques and the leadership and blah blah blah.

I focused on arguing against the Vietnam War.

I then focused on the tragedies inflicted upon Central America.

I didn't have time for the battles in the US over which branch of feminism was doing what.

And that's my failure as a feminist and I will own it.

But the reality is that there was a Gloria camp (which I was in) and there were many other camps.

Those of us in Gloria's camp defended her repeatedly from charges about the CIA.

I can only speak for me -- let other feminists (some of whom slept with Kissinger) explain themselves.

I was told -- as were most people -- by Gloria that in college she did work with an organization and later she learned it was CIA and blah blah blah.

This was feminist Gloria.

I had no reason to believe she was lying.

Many feminists felt she was.

Because she was lying.

She was on the board of a CIA cut-out long after she was a journalist.

She also -- in her college years -- was paid to disrupt youth meetings.

That requires an explanation.

She never offered one.

I have many faults.

I will take someone at their word.

I will not, however, trash someone else based upon the word of others.

Kathie Sarachild.

She's a Redstocking member and leader.

She was among those leading the charge about Gloria's CIA involvement in the early and mid-70s.

I never knew Kathie.

I knew many people who did know her.  (Including Ellen Willis who never said a word against her which might be why I didn't spread lies about Kathie.)

To read the Gloria-endorsed history of second wave feminism, Kathie had mental problems.

That's what her problem with Gloria was.

She wanted fame and couldn't have it because her mental problems prevented her from doing so; therefore, she went after Gloria.

After the 2008 radio appearance, one of the first things I did was ask people who knew her in the day or now.

She's not mentally unbalanced.

Nor was she someone concerned with fame.

She wanted recognition for her own accomplishments -- many of which were stripped from her in the Gloria-approved history of the feminist movement.

But she wasn't crazy.

Yet she's been smeared as such.

Ellen Willis.

Ellen was a smart woman and a real friend.

She made a real impact on feminism.

She and Gloria did not get along.

Gloria watered down feminism -- to the point that it led to what many of us have dubbed do-me feminism (push up bras sold at Victoria's Secret for those who wish to accessorize).

Ellen's mark in feminism cannot be denied.

Unless you're Gloria Steinem.

In November of 2006, Ellen passed away.  I wrote about it here.

Do you know who didn't cover the passing?


Gloria used to control one and still controls the other.

Ellen wrote for MS. (until she couldn't take Gloria's watering down of everything -- feminism and actual writing).

Ellen could be disappeared from feminism -- Gloria's approved feminism -- history.

I'm sick of the bitch.


I can't stand her.

I was mad in real time but anyone who knows me will tell you I don't do real time.

I don't do snap judgments.

I puzzle over something, I toss it around.

In six months or so, I'll be sounding out friends.

Possibly a year or two later, if I'm truly pissed, you'll know it.

Gloria and her club defend Gloria constantly.

They say things like it was just natural that a pretty blond would replace Betty Friedan.

Gloria's not pretty.

She was never even cute.

Pretty people go into showbiz, ugly people go to DC.

Norah Ephron would remember the exact saying.

But the point is, Gloria, in her cheesy mini-skirts (she road that fad long after it was dead), was not pretty in Hollywood sense, in model sense, in any sense except the world of the eggheads.

In that world, which Gloria inhabited, she was pretty.

I don't normally comment on Gloria's looks.

But one of the lies her crowd (which I was in for years) put out repeatedly -- you can even find a weaker version of it in Susan Faludi's brilliant BACKLASH -- is that Gloria became a leader because the press was tired of (old) Betty Friedan and moved over to the pretty, young blond.

She wasn't that young.

And, sorry, but she wasn't pretty.

She wasn't ugly.

But she was plain.

The Redstockings asked if she was being helped by the CIA?

She may have been.

I'm not defending her anymore on that charge because I've found out too much in the last years -- exposing lies she personally told to me.  She's on her own.

I will note that there's a video of pre-feminist Gloria, at the end of the sixties -- it's on YouTube, offering a very different take on her CIA experience and years with it than what she ever told friends or mentioned in her communique to the women's movement in the early seventies when the charges surfaced.

What she did have was her friends in the media.

And they promoted her.

It was not by accident and it was not because she was pretty.

Even after her plastic surgery in the 90s, she wasn't pretty.

The lies required to prop up Gloria are immense.

Take Alice Walker.

I read her letter on why she was leaving MS. in the 80s.  And I marvel over how that is repeatedly watered down in the Gloria approved history.

Alice had serious issues -- issues that are still not addressed -- with the magazine and how it represented women.

There are going to be real issues in a movement, there are going to be real frictions.

The movement is betrayed when everything is smoothed over for Gloria's feelings.

But the movement is seriously betrayed by her refusal to step aside.

She has hijacked the movement.

I keep waiting for her to announce she's ill and will be appointing her brother Raul to succeed her.

Naomi Wolf had one book (so far) worth reading -- FIRE WITH FIRE.

Sections of it are raw and brilliant.

One section deals with victim feminism.

She wasn't indicting Gloria but how could she -- she doesn't know the history.

Most people don't.

But what she described is what Gloria has sold as feminism.

It's why the 60s crowd led into the 70s with one change after another and then Gloria comes along and starts selling women on waiting and compromising and selling out.

It's even documented in real time.

Read Germaine Greer's  October 1972 cover story of HARPER'S and "McGovern, the big tease" for Gloria's sell out of feminism and Veronica Geng's "Requiem for the women's movement," November 1976 cover story of HARPER'S for Gloria telling women that women's issues didn't matter as much the Democratic Party did.

Her (mis)leadership has led to few victories and to our rights being watered down when it comes to reproductive health.

She needs to step aside because no one needs to be a leader for several decades.

But she also needs to step aside because her leadership if a failure.

2008 forced the Gloria reconsideration but if I'm truly honest, I've been suspicious of her since 2003 when I met an Afghanistan women writer who told me of all the promises Gloria made and how none were delivered and how, if Gloria was US feminism, she wanted nothing to do with it.

I didn't blame her.  I didn't excuse Gloria.  I just apologized and asked what I could do.

And took note of how many other women from around the globe were used by Gloria for about five minutes and then forgotten -- like the Iraqi women were.