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Check out my interview with Ted Simons, host of KAET-TV Horizon news show. We covered a wide range of questions on this topic. I’d love to know how you’d answer them. I posted this on Heartfeldt because we inevitably talked politics quite a bit.
A brilliant feminist theorist, her 1977 novel, The Women’s Room, connected with millions of women who had no way before of claiming their anger and discontent. And, as Carol tells us, Marilyn French was a tender and caring friend.
My friend Marilyn French was a rare blend of genius and grace. A Queens, New York, girl of modest beginnings, she became one of our leading feminist theorists, her work read worldwide. Both as a scholar and novelist, she brandished a razor sharp writing instrument on the patriarchy, but privately she was gentle and funny. And, oh my, was she smart.
The first time I saw Marilyn French—in the late 70s—we shared the stage at a women’s event on Long Island, both of us invited to deliver remarks. She was a bona fide international celebrity—famed for her novel The Women’s Room, which perfectly captured the quest of the modern feminist movement. I was a local news anchor, still new in my career, a new mother. She was breathtakingly brilliant, vibrant and sharp—and outspoken in a way that was unusual in those days. Then, there were still many women who muted their opinions, smiled often, and perfected the skills of “getting along.” I may have been one of them. Marilyn, on the other hand, was among first women I’d met who were “having none of it.” The “it” being a reflexively submissive attitude. Marilyn definitely left an impression.
It was some years between my first introduction to Marilyn French on that Long Island stage—and becoming her friend. That happened in the late 80s when our mutual friend Gloria Steinem invited Marilyn, Esther Broner, the writer and ritualist, and me to dinner. We sat down at seven—and when at four in the morning we realized we didn’t want the conversation to end, formed what we soon named “The Coven.” For the next 20 years we met at least four times a year—on the days of the solstice and equinox—to tell each other about the state of our lives and have it reflected back to us. We created some rituals of our own: waving magic wands and tribal feathers. It was fun, but it was also serious work.
Have been intending to blog about this fascinating intergenerational feminist convocation since I took the D train out to Brooklyn last Saturday after enjoying dim sum in Chinatown with my 30-something cousin Elizabeth. (She calls me “Auntie G” because of our age difference. Thus the day started out with an intergenerational theme; food if nothing else transcends the generations.)
Asking just what transcends and what divides the generations were a galaxy of feminist stars, moderated (if such a thing is possible with feisty feminists) by the ever-engaging Laura Flanders, “Women’s Visions for the Nation: What’s It Going to Take?”, the Saturday speakout showcased the intergenerational feminist think tank, Unfinished Business. The occasion marked and was sponsored by the 2nd anniversary of the Elizabeth Sackler Center for Feminist Art.
NB: Sackler established the center at the Brooklyn Museum, and if you have not been out there to see the extraordinary wing where Judy Chicago’s famed feminist history review “The Dinner Party” is permanently installed–run, don’t walk. (Oh, and don’t forget to change to the 2/3 at Atlantic Ave.) You are in for a treat and I for one am immensely grateful for this treasure of a place, and for Elizabeth Sackler’s commitment to fostering the future of feminist thought, art, and action.
What’s a WomanGirlLady? Each member and (plural) the whole intergenerational panel that goes on the road together. Last week it was Courtney Martin and Kristal Brent Zook plus the amazing Maria Teresa Peterson (head of Voto Latino, who stepped admirably …
Continuing the intergenerational conversation among women I jumped into on this blog below in “What’s That About a Sisterhood Split?“, two young writers who have already distinguished themselves as influential feminist thinkers, Courtney Martin and Deborah Siegel, have penned an op ed published in the Washington Post today. It’s entitled “Come Together? Yes We Can”, and definitely worth a read. Not just your “can’t we all get along?” plea, but rather a look at the generational divide revealed by the Democratic primary competition. An excerpt:
In The Nation today, Jessica Valenti had an article called “The Sisterhood Split”. Much has been written about feminists dividing their votes between Clinton and Obama. Jessica, a fabulous young feminist and a founder of one of my favorite blogs, Feministing, made interesting points and certainly her passion for finding better ways to advance feminism and a feminist agenda shines through. But there were several statements in her piece that I thought begged for a response, especially since she quoted me in one of them. I’m sending my thoughts to Jessica also in hopes that we can dialogue more about this.
I didn’t have time to critique the entire article. What follows are excerpts (“J”) and my replies (“G”). Particular phrases of concern are in italics:
J: Gloria Feldt, former president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, penned a piece for The Huffington Post [NOTE: also posted here on Heartfeldt] in which she warned women they would be missing out on a historic moment if they didn’t vote for Clinton . “Will women give this Moment away freely once again?” she pondered…
G: Actually, I warned about missing a strategic opportunity to achieve important feminist goals (electing a woman president, amassing political clout so we can influence the agenda) if we fail to mass the potential strength of women’s votes. To be sure, I gave historical precedents as examples, but personally I don’t give a fig about enshrining history; I just try to mine it for what it can teach us. And I stand by my warning, based on what I learned from several decades as an advocate from the lowliest grassroots to the highest halls of power.
In my family where there are three Glorias. I am known as Gloria #1. But in the world of feminism and activism for women, we all know who Gloria # 1 is. Alex and I are pleased as punch to invite you to our annual Women of the World lecture at Arizona State University. Gloria Steinem will honor us as our very special guest lecturer on October 17 at 7pm in the Memorial Union. It’ll be a happening, honey!