Tag Archives: Ms. Magazine

Talking About A Revolution


I spent much of my adult life certain that being born into an era of domestic assassinations must have affected my worldview. I often wondered why there weren’t studies of my age cohort. Did we grow up cynical and afraid? Did we superimpose targets on the backs of charismatic leaders? Did we think that dissent equaled violence? I assumed that my earliest civics lessons must have left a semi-dark imprint on my consciousness. And like most early assumptions, as time passes, I begin to see that I was wrong. In fact I would go so far as to say I was a complete 180 degrees wrong.

Unbeknownst to me I actually absorbed the other side of the coin all along. My worldview was shockingly optimistic. I grew up during a time and in a place rife with women leaders; Bella, Phyllis, Angela, Golda, Gloria; hallelujah. Ms. Magazine came to my house, that is until my mother felt her Erma Bombeck (with a smattering of Betty Friedan) brand of feminism was being dismissed. I came of age when access to birth control and prevention were an assumed right. For a small child there was nothing radical about Shirley Chisholm running for president. Nothing at all. I proudly wore my “Never Again In An Unratified State” button to school, not needing to explain the reference to the ERA and the DNC. It never occurred to me that I was experiencing a bubble. Just as it never occurred to me that; Joni Mitchell, Carole King. Judy Collins, Phoebe Snow, and Janis Ian should hire stylists, pyrotechnicians, back-up dancers and learn to simulate sodomy on stage. They appeared on stage in all their stupendously talented glory, no more or less spiffed, buffed, and polished than their male counterparts. This was my world as a child and teen. It never occurred to me that women were not equal to men.

In 2016 this worldview seems as grounded and realistic as Willy Wonka’s factory. I am continuously gobsmacked to discover how false my assumptions now are. The only realization more chilling than the severe backlash to feminism is how far reaching bigotry is today. In the 21st century. As children we made fun of Archie Bunker and his views on immigrants, gays, women, and people of color. He was a pitiful anachronism surrounded by an argumentative greek chorus on the side of right. It was his one loud voice versus the evolved masses. Something has dramatically shifted since then hasn’t it? I don’t mean to suggest that the 70s were all fun and games for underrepresented people. However, choose any group and you can find the ephemera of a movement. Migrant workers, “Chicano” and Black Power, Gay Liberation, and of course the ERA were in full force in the 1970s. Movements by definition are hopeful. People gather to make change because they believe they can. That’s a heady concept for adults let alone a 2nd grader.

Is it a handicap to grow up with such rose colored glasses? Does it lend itself to resting on one’s laurels and to missing the warning signs? Are we too tired and distracted to pick up the mantle? Is it no longer our problem? Has life just gotten in the way of our ideals? Is it all just too big, too daunting, too exhausting, too depressing, too deja vu all over again? I know my dabbling in protests, petitions and politics is not enough. But how does one muster the urge to fight after witnessing the erosion of progress? Isn’t that the very definition of insanity? Or is it in fact the very definition of the human experience? Do we keep trying regardless of the odds, regardless of the outcome, because to not try and right the wrongs is simply intolerable. Do we stop finding solace in raging with like minded people, and instead rage for change? When this whole world keeps getting you down it’s time to roll up your sleeves, slap on those protest pins and take to the streets, community organizations, polls, and elected office. It is not enough to tweet, Like, or blog. If it were, everything would be better by now. Today’s children are growing up with their own version of domestic assassinations, that on a personal level are far more terrifying than what my peers and I experienced. Is it not our responsibility to show them the other side of the coin? We have been there before; small people witnessing atrocities, we know the way out. We have been shown how to muster our outrage and hurt and create something liberating and good. We know that out of loss and pain can be growth and freedom. There’s no quick fix, but I suspect that if we can focus less on generalizations and surreal presidential campaigns, and more on specific issues, we will get somewhere. If we can focus on one or two issues and give them the kind of attention and passion they deserve, we might just start to move things. The thing about a movement is that once it starts it can really get going. But it’s got to start, it’s simple physics. So the next time a like minded friend engages me in conversation about the woes of the world, my response will be; “let’s do something about it.”


Leave a comment

Posted by on June 15, 2016 in Cultural Critique


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dear Ms. Magazine

Happy Birthday Ms. Magazine!  It seems like only yesterday when you were born.  It must be annoying to hear that over and over again.  40, wow!  You look great!  Really you do.  Don’t give me that look, it’s okay to care about your looks if you’re a feminist, don’t try that on me.  You look great, really.  You know a lot of other magazines have very bloated advertising, and a rather eerie glossy finish.  But not you.  Yes you’ve freshened yourself up over the years, but that’s what keeps you modern and relevant.

Do you remember the first time you came to my house?  Me neither.  But I remember you being there in those early years.  My housewife mother must have heard about you at her consciousness-raising group and invited you home.  I’m guessing you got passed around a bit.  Household expenditures were tightly monitored (it was the 70s after all, things were tough all over.)  Come to think of it, it took some chutzpah to start a magazine outside of the standard advertising model on the cusp of the recession, didn’t it?  But you never did shy from a challenge.  They laughed at you.  I know you remember that.  Who did you think you were?  A serious magazine for women?  A business run by women?  They said a lot worse too.

It must have been hard at times, all that bullying.  They even made fun of your name.  You know, that name that is now a standard fixture in the English language; appearing on all official documents and forms?  You were the first to talk about abortion openly, instigating untold honest conversations and sharing in homes across the country.  You shone the spotlight on domestic violence, helping to place the shame where it belongs; on the perpetrators.  You gave voice to issues that often had no visible champion.  You helped us to understand our bodies and minds and how they can work.

You never have been popular.  I don’t mean that to be hurtful, it’s actually praise.  Who wants to be adored by the masses?  It’s far more satisfying to be loved by those who ‘get us.’  You did come along at the right time, that’s for sure.  No one was rolling out a red carpet or anything.  No, no.  But the swelling of bias and bigotry awareness of the early 1970s was a boon to Ms. and feminism.  Even the most misogynistic would begrudgingly admit that 51% of the population should be treated equally.  Not so far as enacting the ERA or anything, but wait, no sad stories, this is your birthday!

Milestone birthdays can be affirming but they can also be a bit jarring.  It’s a gift to age, to survive!  While no one wants to live in the past, it is the shared memories that give us a feeling of being a collective.  How many remember when grown women were routinely called ‘girls?’  Remember when we didn’t even have names?!  We were Mrs. Robert Smith or Mrs. Nathan Green.  We not only keep our first and last names now, but sometimes a man actually takes a woman’s name (gasp!)

I remember that you were the only magazine in our house, quite possibly ever.  I’ve no doubt you played some part in my mother returning to school and becoming the writer she always longed to be.  You probably had a hand in the household responsibilities being distributed to all family members (yeah that was just great, thanks!)  I can see your handiwork now, in my own outlook on life.  I struggle, like I know you do, with the backlash of some of our progress.  There are times I thought we’d be further ahead by now.  I know you know.  We still have work to do don’t we Ms.?  Maybe 40 really is the new 30!  Happy Birthday Ms. and thank you.  Now get back to work.

1 Comment

Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Cultural Critique, Media/Marketing


Tags: , , , , , , , ,