A Bit of my History Turns Up

November 2, 1983

Today I stood at the back of the crowd pressing into the room listening to Gloria Steinem and I felt a pull to the past – the past when I was much more excited about the women’s movement.

She’s tall, very thin and lovely. Dressed in a black long sleeved sweater over long black wool gaucho pants , also wearing boots. An elegant silver Navaho belt is draped casually around her hips and a heavy silver Indian bracelet at her wrist reminded me of  a Wonder Woman bracelet. A large hammered silver ring accentuated her long slender fingers and her beautifully shaped nails. Along with her trademark straight hair and aviator glasses. Elegant, understated – she shows a careful image.

Fascinated, I watched the way she gestured with her hands. Gloria Steinem exudes style.

But more she looks at everyone in the guest line individually with a gaze  that makes you feel special.

I had not seen Gloria in about three years. As I watched her I thought she must be a bit like fine wine – she gets better with time.

I was moved by her talk about her book tour for her new book, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions –how people tell her their stories. She says,  “ I feel like an heiress and I have to figure out how to share the stories back with everyone.”

She graciously acknowledged all the women in the audience , “You who do the work here and in Washington – how much we all owe you.”

It is so rare, in my experience that I heard anyone acknowledge those working in the fields.

I felt memories stirring – of the excitement in Houston for the national  IWY meeting – of having the feeling it could all be done – of having heroines like Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinem and so many others – that was all before I turned negative – when I still felt energy and enthusiasm for the Women’s Movement.

When I felt all the idealism – saw only possibilities not difficulties – was too naieve to realize the obstacles ahead for women trying to pass the ERA.

Where did that feeling go? What happened?

Jim said later when I told him about it the loss of feeling and the disappointments.

“Burn out.”
My idealism was kicked out of me – squashed by the failure of ERA – in 1982.

Women across the country poured every ounce of their energy into the campaign for 10 years  of trying to pass the Equal Rights Amendment were squashed by the failure to pass it.

All that and we came up empty.

August 15, 2016

Today, 33 years later, I found a small journal with this reflection on Gloria Steinem in it.  A rush of memories.

I wrote the essay when I got home from NYC where I attended the book signing for Steinem’s book, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions.  The large open lobby of the Equitable Life Assurance Building was packed – feminists standing in line for Gloria’s signature and chatting with old friends and other ERA Campaign veterans. It was a grand reunion as well as a celebration of the book.

My daughter Robin had a job in NYC at that time and she came with a friend.  Afterwards we went out to supper to the 21 Club – some fun is always a worthy use of time  - and money.

Now - there is a lot of hope in the air for the November 8 election outcome.  And, I am so hoping there will be large and small gatherings across the county to celebrate the first woman US President.

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