I was 24 when Gloria Steinem launched Ms. Magazine and I thought it was written for uber-feminist misandrists. I was driven to succeed as a writer and journalist, I had no interest in being a housewife and mother, and it never entered my mind that anyone would deny me anything because I was a woman. I was a wife, but I never defined myself that way, yet I didn’t have a burning desire to erase the Mrs. before my name. And although it nauseated me when my best friend’s pompous husband looked at her as arm candy, versus an intelligent human being, I didn’t hate him. I just thought he was pathetic.
Forty years later, I realize how narrow minded I was. Although I didn’t follow the path of many women my age, I didn’t recognize that women were, indeed, treated like second class citizens. Gloria and her band of brazen, brave and visionary women gave voice to a movement that would help raise public consciousness and change the culture of all women.
A 40-year-old photo of a sultry Ms. Steinem, cigarette poised between the long-nailed fingers of her right hand, graces the current cover of New York Magazine, which previewed the first issue of Ms., in 1971. Abigail Pogrebin’s cover story ( she’s the daughter of Letty Cottin Pogrebin, a co-founding editor of Ms.) is a compelling oral history of the magazine from many of the founding members. I encourage everyone to read it. To tempt you, here is an excerpt from a feature story by Jane O’Reilly that ran in the debut issue of Ms.:
“On Fire Island my weekend hostess and I had just finished cooking breakfast, lunch, and washing dishes for both. A male guest came wandering into the kitchen just as the last dish was being put away and said, ‘How about something to eat.’ He sat down, expectantly, and started to read the paper. Click!…In the end, we are all housewives, the natural people to turn to when their is something unpleasant, inconvenient or inconclusive to be done.”
If it wasn’t for Gloria, there probably would be no FabOverFifty because many of us would still be housewives, and not necessarily by our own choosing.
Thank you, Gloria.
P.S. Please tell me your thoughts.