I finally got to see the HBO documentary about Steinem tonight that had originally aired a few months ago. I’d almost forgotten what a giant figure she was and how many many ways she changed the culture.
The documentary was very well done, told in Steinem’s own words and taking us from her unhappy childhood in the Midwest to her early years in NYC to her historic contributions to the women’s movement.
I interviewed her when her book about self esteem was published. She couldn’t have been more gracious, more generous with her time and – most unusually for someone so famous – more honest. She explained that her aviator glasses had been a disguise, hiding the insecure girl she was inside. She told me about her parents; how their divorce and her mother’s “nervous breakdown” forced her to be the caregiver in the household. She spoke about how much she cared about equality, not just for American women but for women around the world, no matter what their race, ethnicity or economic status.
It makes me laugh when I see young women today who turn up their noses at the word “feminist” – even as they sit in their big corner offices at corporations where they would never have gotten a job if not for Steinem and others.
I never marched on Washington or burned my bra or even bought a subscription to Ms. magazine, but I’ve always had the highest respect for Steinem and was glad she got her due on HBO.