Steinem Review

I recently watched a fantastic documentary on Gloria Steinem on HBO called Gloria: In Her Own Words. Gloria spoke of her own personal experience of wanting a career in journalism, living up to a dream that her mother was unable to realize. Her personal goals led her to be one of the most relevant activists in the women’s movement. This documentary profiles Gloria’s life and the adversities she faced, including being a beautiful woman who wanted to be taken seriously in a man’s world. The documentary brings to light historical moments that I was unaware of. Gloria was one of the founders of Ms. magazine, a controversial feminist magazine that by name already began to address the conventions of gender in America. Initially, the magazine was ridiculed by more “serious” journalists and was dismissed by President Reagan, who wouldn’t consider such a silly thing as legally adding “Ms.” as an address for unmarried females.
In this film, Gloria recounts stories of protests and events with the feminist heroines of her day. She also acknowledges an understanding that women today should have their own contemporary feminist mentors and leaders. Who are the feminists that you look up to today? This made me stop to consider who my feminist heroines would be today. In literature, I am pleased to see a rise of so many fantastic postmodern and experimental writers. Beginning from Sappho, the mother of fragments and historiographer—positing Greek females in a literary framework— to Stein’s Tender Buttons and The Biography of Alice B. Toklas, confusing critics and literary analysts and pushing syntax and aesthetic to the brink. Where would postmodernism be without Stein? To several other lovely writers: Bernadette Mayer with erotic passion and fearless writing of motherhood; Hejinian’s, proving that women can set aside content of “the other” to be a true language poet (i.e. Oxota: A Short Russian Novel). In the same way that Ms. moved away from the typical women’s magazine focus on “feminine” topics like cooking and fashion, women writers are reshaping feminism in several ways: by completely moving away from the need to  discuss the plight of “the other” or by addressing the female experience as secondary to craft and aesthetic.

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