Experience a unique interpretation of feminist icon Gloria Steinem’s life told by an all-female cast starring Emmy Award winner Christine Lahti and directed by Tony Award winner Diane Paulus.
♪♪ -Next on 'Great Performances,' she was a leader in the women's movement of the '60s and still is. Gloria Steinem... -Women are finding the courage to stand up and speak their personal truth more than ever before.
-...on her journey to self-discovery.
-My biggest dream was to become a Rockette.
[ Laughter ] [ Sobbing ] Why do I still feel like I don't matter?
-She finally found her voice.
-We are never, never turning back!
[ Cheers and applause ] -Starring Christine Lahti and Gloria Steinem herself, don't miss the inspiring 'Gloria: A Life' on Great Performances.
[ Women cheering ] ♪♪ -♪ Now you have heard of Women's Rights ♪ ♪ And how we've tried to reach new heights ♪ ♪ If we're 'all created equal' ♪ That's us, too -♪ Yeah -♪ But you will probably not recall ♪ -What we are talking about is a revolution and not a reform.
Are we going to win? Yes!
-♪ Oh, we were suffering until suffrage ♪ -Understand it's not a role exchange.
We're not trying to do to men what men have done to us.
We're trying to humanize both roles.
[ Cheers and applause ] -Welcome!
Everyone asks me about the aviator glasses.
I mean, they were prescription, but they were also about protection.
The bigger, the better.
The hair, too.
But I don't want anything to come between us tonight.
Because here's the good news - We're all in this room together and not alone on our computers or cellphones!
[ Cheers and applause ] Humans are communal animals.
We're meant to be sitting around campfires telling our stories, learning from each other.
We've been doing it for millennia.
In fact, I would say being able to tell your story and listening to each other's stories is the surefire path out, because you realize you're not crazy.
The system is crazy. And you're not alone.
Social justice movements start with people sitting in a circle, like this.
We called it consciousness raising.
Yes, you're nodding. You remember.
You remember, too!
It's all about sharing what's wrong and what to do about it.
And there is so, so much to do.
We are in a crisis like -- [ Chuckles ] like I've never known.
But I haven't seen such activism as I'm seeing right now.
127 women were just sworn into Congress!
[ Cheers and applause ] Including the first two Muslim women and the first two Native American women, and one of them is openly gay.
[ Cheers and applause ] Women and people of color are taking back this country.
Because of movements like Me Too and Time's Up, women are finding the courage to stand up and speak their personal truth more than ever before.
Young people are mad.
They're just not accepting old divisions of gender and race, and they're marching and voting and using the legal system like never before.
Now, you might be wondering why I'm so optimistic, given all the crap we're still up against.
Well, I am a self-proclaimed hope-aholic.
But it's also because I remember when it was so much worse.
♪♪ I grew up with all this nonsense!
♪♪ Who here remembers the '50s and early '60s?
Raise your hands. Okay.
Is this what some Americans are nostalgic for?
[ Laughter ] -This was a time when there wasn't even the concept 'equal pay for women.'
-People thought women shouldn't be working at all -- white women -- because we're taking jobs away from our men and neglecting our children.
-While women of color were told, as always, we have to work and take care of our children and everybody else's children, and for low wages.
-On a domestic violence call, the cops thought success was getting the victim and the abuser back together.
-Of course, abortion was criminal.
-And in Texas, murdering your wife for having an affair was considered... -Justifiable homicide.
-I grew up in working class Toledo, and my biggest dream was to become a Rockette.
[ Laughter ] Yep. See, I was a tap dancer as a kid.
I think back then, entertainment was to girls what sports were to boys -- a way to get out and up.
I dreamed of dancing my way out of Toledo.
I still tap dance in elevators with Muzak... [ Chuckles ] ...when I'm alone.
[ Elevator bell dings ] I went to Smith College in the '50s and discovered that most of the very bright young women were there to find husbands.
I also noticed that unlike my high school in Toledo, there was not one 'Negro' girl in my class.
I ask the dean of admissions -- a white guy, of course -- why.
-We have to be very careful about educating Negro girls, because there aren't enougheducated Negro men to go around.
-[ Chuckling ] Ohh.
I was so impressed by where I was that I accepted this racist, sexist answer.
[ The Chordettes' 'Mr. Sandman' playing ] By the end of senior year, most of the girls in class are raising their hands like this... -Oh.
-...so we can see who's wearing an engagement ring.
[ Laughter ] I assume I'll be wearing one someday, too.
I'm just, ya know, putting it off.
When I moved to New York after college, I had absolutely no idea what feminism was or that there was any need for a movement.
All I knew was I wanted to be a writer, a political journalist.
I soon found out that male journalists got all the political assignments, and most women got assigned family, food, and fashion stories.
My high-point was writing a long, in-depth article for the on textured stockings.
[ Laughter ] -The only way for me to write a political story was to write one on spec.
President Kennedy has just been assassinated, and Bobby Kennedy is running for the Senate from New York State.
I'm covering the campaign, along with... -The famous novelist, Saul Bellow.
-Whom I've just interviewed for a profile, and... -The even more famous social critic Gay Talese. [ Laughter ] -We're sharing a taxi. Oh -- -Bobby is so tough to interview.
-Yeah, I know. He doesn't talk much.
-That's an understatement. [ Both laugh ] -Well, I've found that the only way to interview Bobby is to bring along somebody who disagrees with him.
You can only get good quotes if you bring along somebody he needs to convince.
-You know how every year, there's a pretty girl who comes to New York and pretends to be a writer?
-Sure. -Well, Gloria is this year's pretty girl.
[ Both laugh ] -Martinis later? -Sure.
[ Laughter ] -Oh, they probably thought calling me the pretty girl was a compliment.
[ Laughs ] It wasn't until I got out of the taxi that I realized I was mad.
And I was mad at myself.
Why didn't I say something, get out of the taxi and slam the door?
♪♪ Oh, I know, I know, I know.
Given how much I wanted to be taken seriously and not just be 'the pretty girl,' you'd think I would have had more sense than to take an assignment that's haunted my entire life.
Even today when I'm being introduced, they'll list my books and credits, and then add... -And.
-Or... -But... -She was a Playboy Bunny. -She was a Playboy Bunny.
-So, how did it happen?
I'm a freelance writer, and I'm in an editorial meeting at Magazine.
-The big, glossy arts magazine of the day.
-You have to kill a whole tree just for one issue.
Okay. I would like to pitch a story about the books the U.S. Information Service is sending to libraries abroad.
It's a tragedy for India.
I mean -- -Listen, the Playboy Club is just about to open on East 59th Street.
-The question is whether or not should cover it.
-Well, why don't we ask Dorothy Parker to go undercover as a Bunny?
[ Laughter ] -Wait a minute. -Can you imagine that?
-That's a good idea.
You do it. -What -- No, no, no, no, no, no, no!
Come on, no, I was joking!
[ Stammers ] Well, it is an assignment, and my rent is due.
♪♪ [ Laughter ] ♪♪ -Name? -Marie Ochs.
It's my grandmother's name.
I don't want to forget who I am. -Age?
-I'm, um -- -You know the cutoff age is 25.
-24. -24. Uh-huh.
-I'm a secretary. It's boring.
I want a more glamorous job.
-Take it from your Bunny Mother -- If you can type, you don't want to work here.
-They're desperate for employees so I get hired.
And there's nothing glamorous about it.
It's like being hung on a meat hook.
Excuse me, ma'am. This costume is so tight, it would give a man cleavage.
It's like 2 inches smaller than any of my measurements everywhere except here.
-You gotta have room in there to stuff!
-I'm -- I'm sorry. What's that?
-A garbage bag.
-Wait -- Wait -- Wait -- Wait a minute.
What are you doing?
-What does it look like? -No, no, no, no.
-Alright, settle down, sweetheart.
Come on, settle down. -[ Stammering ] -Settle, settle.
You gotta wear 3-inch heels.
You get demerits you wear 'em any lower.
It's bunny training time.
-At Bunny School,we're programmed on what to say.
-Please, sir, you are not allowed to touch the bunnies.
-You must be mistaken, sir. That's your hotel room key, not your membership key.
-'Good evening, sir, I am your Bunny, Marie.'
-Whoa. Where's the dip?
-What's the dip?
-Show her the dip!
-Yeah, I'm gonna practice that at home.
-Alright. Now bunnies to attention.
And here we go.
We're going to try a low carry!
Low carry. Good low carry.
How about a high carry?
High carry. Good, move it along. High carry.
How about a real high carry?
Good! And a bit faster now!
[ Vocalizing ] Very good today, girls!
Uh, Marie, in the morning, you'll be seeing the Playboy doctor for your physical.
-At 11:00 am, I go to a room in a nearby hotel.
-So you're going to be a Bunny!
I just came back from Miami myself.
Beautiful Club down there. Beautiful Bunnies.
-So do you have the coast-to-coast Bunny franchise?
[ Chuckles ] -Do you like Bunnyhood?
-Uh, it's livelier than being a secretary -- -Okay. So this is the part all the girls hate.
You're gonna have to have a Wasserman.
-What's a Wasserman? -A test for venereal disease.
-That seems a little ominous.
-Don't be silly.
All the employees have to do it.
You'll know everyone in the Club is clean.
-Their being clean doesn't really affect me.
And the nurse told me I have to have a gynecological exam?
This is required to serve cocktails in New York State?
-Really? -What do you care?
It's free, and it's for everybody's good.
Look, we usually find that girls who object strenuously have some reason.
-I let him do the exam.
Once I'm working, I learn the Bunnies get paid... -Like -- Way less than the ads promised.
Also, the Club takes half your tips.
-Yesterday, the manager called me his chocolate bunny.
-And while they say you aren't expected to entertain the men, I'm constantly propositioned.
-We all are. -Wait, wait, wait.
Can we stop the music for a sec?
I just have to say this.
Can you believe that a new Playboy Club just opened up here in New York, 30 years after Hefner himself declared the Bunny 'a symbol of the past?'
I mean, how tone deaf can you be?
Okay, I got that out of my system. Okay.
Now, where were we? Alright.
That night, I leave the club at 4:00 a.m.
My high heels have destroyed my feet.
I must have lost 5 pounds, probably from sweating buckets from this stupid plastic bag.
I see a woman working the corner.
She seems more honest than I am.
I decide I've researched enough.
The next day, I tell them my mother is sick.
I have to quit.
I stay home to write the article.
[ Typewriter clacking, dings ] 'A Bunny's Tale' gets published, and it gives me instant notoriety, plus anonymous threatening phone calls.
I also get calls from former Bunnies saying they tried to organize a union and were threatened with acid thrown in their faces.
Fame gave me a voice, butI didn't know how to use it yet.
Actually, I didn't try hard enough.
I didn't know yet what was possible.
Plus, after 'A Bunny's Tale,' I'm offered assignments like pretending to be a call girl.
[ Chuckles ] So I'm grateful when the assigns me a celebrity profile.
I interview Mary Lindsay, the Mayor's wife -- not the Mayor, of course.
When I deliver the article, the editor gives me a choice.
-You can discuss this with me in a hotel room this afternoon, or you can mail my letters on the way out.
-[ Chuckles ] Oh, you. [ Chuckles ] Yeah, I'll, um -- I'll mail your letters.
I was lucky that mailing his letters didn't cost me my job.
Sexual harassment isn't even a term then.
It's just called life.
My next celebrity assignment is to interview an actor, and I have to meet himin the lobby of the Plaza Hotel.
He's late, and I'm waiting a really long time.
Finally, this assistant managerwho's been eyeing me comes over.
Unescorted ladies are absolutely not allowed in the lobby.
-I'm a reporter. I'm waiting for one of your guests I'm interviewing. -Right.
-No, he's just late. No -- No, he's just late!
I have to -- It's my job! -I know your job.
-Do I look like a prostitute?
I'll wait outside the door.
Hopefully, I can see the actor from here.
An hour passes. No success.
It turns out the actor did come, didn't see me, and left!
His press agent calls my editor.
-She stood up my client! -The editor misses a deadline.
I miss a paycheck I desperately need, and I worry about being permanently demoted to the ghetto of 'women's interest' stories.
About a month later, there's a demonstration of women protesting at the same Plaza Hotel because in its fancy Oak Room Restaurant, women are not served at lunchtime.
[ Women shouting angrily ] -Management feels the voices of women disturb men having serious conversations at lunch.
[ Women exclaiming ] -Okay. I didn't join that demonstration because even though I marched for Civil Rights and against the Vietnam War, I thought protesting for 'just women' was frivolous.
But then I read about these women who stood up and said no.
[ Women shouting angrily ] -You will have to leave.
You're blocking the door. [ Women exclaiming ] -How would you like a sign up there that says 'whites only'? -That is not the same thing ---We don't want to be intimidated by signs that say 'men's buffet.'
[ Women exclaiming ] -It's the same principle.
Women are persons. Women are people.
-I have no intention of taking the sign down or changing the sign.
If you can get a court order to take it down, fine.
-You have no intention of changing your policy of segregated facilities?
Is that correct, sir?
-If you ladies are so hard up for a sandwich, we'll be glad to serve you in the tea room.
-In the tea room? -How dare you!
-I'll show you a tea party!
-Then I get another assignment to interview a celebrity who's staying at the Plaza.
[ Bell dings ] -Unescorted ladies are not allowed in -- -No, no, no. Listen to me! Listen to me!
I have every right to be here.
Why aren't you throwing out all the 'unescorted' men in this lobby who might be male prostitutes?
Or since I know hotel staffs supply call girls to get a cut of their fee -- Look at me!
Maybe you're just worried about losing your commission?
[ Bell dings ] -[ Scoffs ] -I can't believe I just said that.
I meet the celebrity, we have the interview, and I write my article with a sense of... immense well-being.
And this is how it works, then and now.
We all know women give each other courage when we talk to each other and listen to each other and stand up.
When one stands up... -Another stands up.
-And another. -And another.
-And another. -And another.
-And another. -And that is exactly what happened when I went to cover my first feminist speak-out.
Okay. It's 1969, before Roe v. Wade of course, and there was a hearing in Albany on whether to liberalizeNew York state laws on abortion.
-To testify, the legislators invited 14 men.
-And one nun.
[ Laughter ] -You can't make this stuff up.
-A member of Redstockings, an early women's liberation group, says... -How about hearing from women who've actually had this experience?! -Yes! -So they hold a meeting in a church basement in the Village, and I go to cover it for my new column in -I was 17 when I got pregnant.
It was the first time I ever slept with anyone.
If you don't want the baby, like me, you risk your life, like I did, when I got into a car on 54th and Lexington, and I was blindfolded and taken someplace. I don't know where.
I wasn't given an anesthetic.
The instruments weren't sterilized.
I wound up with an infection. I -- I may never be able to have children!
And this is what women have to go through, because men want to make women suffer for their sins, 'cause it's a sin to get pregnant.
-When I had it, I thought I was the lowest of the low, that I couldn't get any lower and that I was the worst human being in the world.
It wasn't until after my abortion that I found out it happened to a lot of other people, too.
When I finally told my family, my mother told me that she had an abortion!
And this helped me, knowing I wasn't alone.
And I'm sure there are women sitting out here right now who are feeling the exact same thing that I'm feeling.
-When I had an abortion, I had to pay $700.
I went through this cloak and dagger business.
You know, my boyfriend found some quack willing to stick a...hanger up me, and then my boyfriend just -- he just walks away.
We're made into criminals, and the guys just walk away!
-I've never, ever seen this before -- Woman after woman standing up and telling her personal truth about something that is 100% a female experience, and everyone here is taking it seriously!
So many women need an abortion at some time in their lives, so why is it illegal and dangerous?
Why is it a secret and a shame?
But what I didn't say that night, and what I hadn't told anyone, was that I had an abortion.
Right after college, I'm in London, working as a waitress waiting for a visa to go to India where I have a fellowship.
I'm going partly to escape an engagement to a very nice man I know I shouldn't marry.
When I find out I'm pregnant, I'm in a panic.
What am I going to do?
Throw myself down the stairs?
Rent a horse and go galloping through Hyde Park?
Drink some Clorox? You know, all the dumb and desperate things that women think of.
And then I just happen to go to a party.
[ Indistinct conversations, laughter ] I meet this insufferable American playwright.
-I couldn't get my play on in New York.
Thank God the London theater has some damn taste.
But now we've had to cancel rehearsals, because I have to find abortions for two stupid actresses.
[ Indistinct conversations ] -And that's how I find out that in England, if you can find a doctor willing to sign papers saying your pregnancy is life-threatening, you can get a legal abortion.
-I will sign the papers and take this risk if you promise me two things. -Anything.
-First, you will not tell anyone my name.
-I won't. -Second... you will do what you want to do with your life.
-I hope you, who knew the law was unjust, won't mind if I say this now publicly, so long after your death.
Dr. John Sharpe, thank you.
Every doctor who takes this risk deserves our thanks.
But when I wrote my article about that speak-out on abortion, I didn't include my story.
I never used the word 'I.'
I had an abortion.
I still had so much to learn about the personal the political.
My male colleagues at very nice guys, they take me aside.
-Gloria, you've worked so hard to be taken seriously.
-You must not get involved with these crazy women.
-But it's too late.
I am one of these crazy women. [ Laughter ] Finally, I understand the radical idea that women are equal human beings.
And guess what?
[ Chuckles ] I'm 35 years old.
[ Scoffs ] You know, the hardest part of waking up is seeing our own complicity in all the humiliations.
It's not just that we live in a patriarchy.
It's that the patriarchy lives in us, right?
For so many years, I put up with not being able to write the articles I wanted to write.
For decades, I put up with daily sexual harassment and condescension.
I spent a lifetime refusing to trust my own experience.
And I believe this experience is a common experience for women.
And it's been going on for a very, very long time.
This is my mother, Ruth.
She was a loving, intelligent, terrorized woman.
All I know growing up is my mother is someone to worry about, an invalid who lies in bed with her eyes closed, her lips sometimes moving in response to voices only she can hear.
You see, before I was born, she'd had what was called in those days a 'nervous breakdown.'
She lived in a sanatorium for more than a year.
The doctor sent her home with a prescription for sodium pentothal, a pioneer of tranquilizers.
Turns out it was the same one given to Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath.
She became addicted to what she called 'Doc Howard's medicine.'
She took it for anxiety, but it made her seem drunk.
And if she tried to stop, withdrawal led to sleeplessness and hallucinations.
After my sister went off to college, my parents separated.
I moved to Toledo with my mother to take care of her.
I was 11 years old.
From the age of 11 to 17, my mother and I lived in what was once her family house, but now it's condemned, rat-infested, and there's no heat.
[ Music playing ] Lie down, Mom.
It's cold. It's cold.
No, no, please, lie down.
-[ Groans ] -It's cold. Shh.
-[ Groans ] -It's okay. It's okay.
Shh. It's okay. -[ Coughs ] ♪♪ No, forgot -- Sorry.
♪♪ One long Thanksgiving weekend, I'm reading 'A Tale of Two Cities' for my eighth grade English class.
♪♪ -There's a war.
There's a war!
We have to escape!
There's a war! -Mom, Mom.
Come back to bed! No! [ Glass shatters ] Mom, you cut your hand.
You cut your hand. Please come back to bed.
-Are there German soldiers outside?! -No, there aren't any soldiers. There's no war.
It's okay. It's okay. I got it.
I got it. It's okay.
♪♪ I bandage her hand and make her take her medicine.
♪♪ When she calms down, I hold onto my mother to keep her from running out into the street as I try to finish my homework.
♪♪ -Ah. Ah! Ah. -Shh. Please.
It's okay. Shh. Please.
♪♪ ♪♪ I remember once her taking a piece of paper and folding it into thirds.
You know those skinny notebooks you can hold in one hand?
Okay, they didn't exist in her day, so she would take a piece of paper, fold it so you can hold it and take notes, and she teaches me how to do this.
But I had no idea why.
♪♪ It wasn't until I was a grown woman that I found out long before I was born, my mother was a journalist!
She was rebellious enough to struggle out of a working-class family, get admitted to Oberlin, then for years, publish articles, under a man's name, of course, and finally when she was still in her 20s, she became the Sunday editor of which must have been a really, really big deal.
I mean, women had barely won the vote.
So she had a demanding job she loved, a young daughter, my sister, and was married to a kind but gigantically financially irresponsible man, my father, who wasn't supportive of her career.
Also, she fell in lovewith someone at the newspaper -- maybe the man she should have married -- But divorce was...unthinkable, and she broke down.
She ended up giving up her work, her friends, everything.
She followed my father to a lake in rural Michigan where he was pursuing his dream of starting a summer dance resort.
No one in my family ever thought my mother should have doneanything but follow her husband.
They blamed her for daring to pursue her dream of being a writer, especially after she was married and had a child.
They thought she brought her breakdown on herself.
But what happened to my mother wasn't a personal fault.
It was a female fate.
And I am determined not to share that fate.
-♪ Liberation -♪ Liberation -♪ Liberation -♪ Liberation -♪ Women want to be free ♪ Free, free, free, free -♪ Freedom -♪ Freedom -♪ Freedom -♪ Freedom -♪ I said freedom for you and for me ♪ Theoretically, August the 26th next could be an awful day for American males.
That is the 50th anniversary of Women's Suffrage, and to celebrate it, The Women's Liberation Movement proposes a nation-wide strike.
[ Cheers and applause ] -We marched against the war in Vietnam.
-Arm in arm with the guys!
-We marched for Civil Rights!
-And we made the guys sandwiches.
-When we women asked to speak... -The guys told us our position in the movement was horizontal.
-Finally, we said enough.
-And for the first time, we marched for ourselves as women.
-♪ Power, power to the women ♪ It's the women's power, it's the women's power ♪ [ Chanting ] Sisterhood is powerful. We demand equality.
Sisterhood is powerful. We demand equality.
Sisterhood is powerful. We demand equality.
-It's 1970, and the women's movement is really taking off!
But I'm getting incredibly frustrated, because I can't get any articles about it published.
A couple of editors tell me... -If we publish your article saying women are equal human beings... -We'll have to publish one right next to it saying women are not equal, in order to be objective.
[ Laughter ] -You really can't make this stuff up.
I start getting a fewinvitations to speak on campuses and I see it's the only other way to get the word out, so I go out on the road.
Now, I love the road.
It makes me live in the present like nothing else except really mutual sex and emergencies.
[ Chuckles ] And I have to admit because of my father, I come by my road habits honestly.
He spent most of his life living out of a car.
-Until I was 11, we lived out of a house trailer, and I didn't go to school.
I think I learned to read from road signs and ketchup bottles.
[ Chuckles ] Also because my father never had a steady paycheck, he prepared me to live with insecurity, which is great in both movement organizing and freelance writing... [ Laughter ] ...and not just live with it, but want it.
But there was one little problem.
See, I had a near pathological fear of public speaking.
I go to a speech teacher.
I actually lose all my saliva, and each tooth feels like it has a little angora sweater on it.
-You have been two things, a dancer and a writer, and both mean you don't want to talk.
-Mm, good point.
So I ask the most fearless women I know to speak with me.
This is Dorothy Pitman Hughes.
She's way, way ahead of her time because she invented... -One of the first non-sexist, multi-racial childcare centers.
-We focus on going mainly to the South.
-Because we see there are feminist speakers going out in other parts of the country.
-Less likely in the South, and less likely... -The two of us together in the South.
-♪ When the truth is found ♪ To be lies ♪ Don't you want somebody to love? ♪ ♪ Don't you need somebody to love? ♪ [ Applause ] -Dorothy teaches me by making me speak first, and I discover, I don't die! [ Laughter ] Actually, I have to go first, because coming after her is an anti-climax.
-Lots of people can't see moving towards their own freedom, but I am asking you women here tonight to join me and be loud enough to make change happen everywhere!
I believe that if the kitchen isn't good enough for my husband, it isn't good enough for me.
[ Laughter ] -The places are packed and incredibly diverse.
-Whether it's a tiny group in a church basement or a rally of a thousand people.
-The response is overwhelming. -The response is overwhelming.
-We make a space for women to come together and talk.
-Discussions go on for hours!
We give people something to respond to.
-Then we learn from listening.
Once Dorothy has her baby, Angela... -I named her for Angela Davis.
-...I hold the baby while she speaks.
-And I nurse the baby while she speaks.
-Sweetie, if you're not living on the edge, you're taking up space! -Whoo!
-This is the great Florynce Kennedy.
Flo calls us... -Topsy and Little Eva!
Ha! -She's a civil rights lawyer.
-Honey, the law is a one-ass-at-a-time proposition, and what you have to do is stop the wringer.
-So she gives it up and becomes an organizer.
-Some people say they won't work 'inside the system.'
They're 'waiting for the revolution.'
Well, when the ramparts are open, honey, I'll be there.
But until then, I'm going to go right on zapping the business and government delinquents... [ Women shouting agreement ] ...the jockocrats, the fetus fetishists, and all the other niggerizers any way I can.
The biggest sin is sitting on your ass!
[ Women cheer ] -We're taking a cab one day in Boston and talking about Flo's book.
-'Abortion Rap.' -The cabbie, an old Irish lady, turns around to us and says... -Honey, if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament!
[ Laughter ] -Honey, I'm going to speak your truth wherever I go!
-It ends up on t-shirts.
People paint it on walls.
-It's on placards outside the Vatican!
[ Laughter ] -One night, we're getting ready for a rally in the South.
We're in Alabama. And the journalist in me is obsessing about getting my facts straight.
-Honey! If you're lying in a ditch with a truck on ya, ya don't send someone to the library to find out how much it weighs. You just get it the hell off!
-I know, I'm just so nervous! -I know, but just go on.
You've got this! Come on, get on up there.
-Friends and sisters, good afternoon.
-Good afternoon! -Good afternoon!
-[ Sighs ] A year ago, I wouldn't have had the courage to speak before this audience, but now thanks to the spirit of equality in the air and to the work of my more foresighted sisters, I no longer accept society's judgment that my group is second class!
Niggerization is the result of oppression.
And it doesn't just apply to black people.
Old people, poor people, all women can also get niggerized.
There are very few jobs that actually require a penis or a vagina.
All other jobs should be open to everybody!
[ Women cheering ] -Hey!
Are you two lesbians?
[ Laughs ] -Depends. Are you my alternative?
[ Laughter ] -Oh, you are a bad, bad -- -WBRC here.
Can we get a statement, please?
-Honey, we're rising up. It's a brand new day -- -We're here to talk about the women's movement, not the civil-rights movement.
-But -- But Flo Kennedy is a much more experienced feminist than I am. -Miss Steinem, we want to hear from you.
-Women have had enough. Don't you put your hands on me.
Get your freakin' ignorant hands off of me!
-And you wonder why we don't know the impact black women had on the women's movement?
-The truth is, I learned feminism from black women.
-But if I say Second Wave Feminism, how many of you think of these great women?
-Dorothy Pitman Hughes.
-Flo Kennedy. -Pauli Murray.
-Aileen Hernandez. -Fannie Lou Hamer.
-Shirley Chisholm. -Audre Lorde.
-Eleanor Holmes Norton. -Margaret Sloan.
-Barbara Smith. -Alice Walker.
And we could go on and on and on.
-♪ You better think -♪ Think -♪ Think about what you're tryin' to do to me ♪ ♪ Yeah, think -♪ Think -♪ Let your mind go, let yourself be free ♪ ♪ Oh, freedom -♪ Freedom -♪ Freedom -♪ Freedom -♪ Freedom, yeah, freedom ♪ Freedom -♪ Freedom -♪ Freedom -♪ Freedom -♪ Freedom, oh, freedom ♪ You better think [ Cheers and applause ] -It's the height of the movement, and women are coming together everywhere.
-In consciousness-raising groups.
-The ideal group turns out to be about 2/3 women.
-And 1/3 men.
-We're missing the 1/3 men. -Yes, we are.
-At least two of them -- -Some men.
-Yay. I'll bring him back.
-Oh, thank you very much.
That's very brave. Very brave.
If the group is half women and half men, the women worry about the men sitting next to them.
-But if women are the majority, they tell the truth.
-And men hear it, often for the first time.
[ Laughter ] -How can I stop feeling guilty about asking my husband to help with the housework after we both work all day?
-Well, close your eyes and imagine how you'd divide the housework if you were living with another woman.
♪♪ Now open your eyes and don't lower your standards!
-When my husband, Nathan, leaves his underwear on the floor, I find it quite useful to nail it to the floor.
[ Laughter, women speaking indistinctly ] -Trying to get that underwear off the floor.
-Give it up for Paul and Nathan!
[ Cheers and applause ] -My daughter was told at school that she could be a nurse but not a doctor.
-Which school? -Who said it?
-My son goes to the same school.
He was told he could be a veterinarian, not a doctor.
[ All exclaiming indistinctly ] -Okay, I'm sorry to interrupt, but the woman who lives down the street from me, her husband is beating her, and he's threatening to take the kids if she leaves.
Does anyone know where they can go?
-Well, they can stay with me.
-I have room -- -How many kids?
-That would be amazing. Thank you. She has three kids.
-What I remember most about these early years is being flooded with the feeling that if I do only this in my life and nothing more, it will be enough.
I'd never felt part of any group before.
It was heady, exciting, and naive!
Because we thought if we could just explain what's wrong... -People would want to fix it! -People would want to fix it!
-We hadn't figured out yet that injustice is and always has been very profitable.
And then the ridicule starts.
'You're a bunch of bra burners!'
-They pick that up from the protest against the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City.
-Organized by poet and activist Robin Morgan.
-Women put aprons. -Bras.
-Brooms! -Steno pads!
-And other symbols of oppression.
-Into an ashcan on the Boardwalk.
-And threaten to burn them. -But we never do.
-Because we... couldn't get a fire permit.
[ Laughter ] -Women have been way too law-abiding for way too long.
-The press loves alliteration, so from then on, we're... -'Bra burners.' -'Bra burners.'
-When the movement starts to intensify, ridicule turns to hostility.
[ TV show intro music playing ] ♪♪ -Gloria Steinem.
You should know her.
Maybe you've read her.
She's written for most major magazines.
These days she's working for not [ Laughter ] And the work she's doing is causing quite a commotion.
She's very good.
We'd love to hear your response, Miss Steinem, to some of these comments said about you.
[ Button clicks ] -What kind of girl is she?
She seems like a real bitch. [ Chuckles ] Oh, she must be very aggressive and pushy.
You know they have these whole preconceived ideas of girls who get to where Gloria is in life, what one has to do.
-Makes me sad because of the bitch part.
I mean, it really gets to me.
I guess maybe it's worse than I think.
I mean, I don't hear those comments, but what I've come to understand lately is that it's not always personal.
It's that all women come in for this kind of stuff.
If you don't play your role, you know, if you dare to aspire to something, then you get it automatically.
It's taken me until now to understand what to say when someone calls you a bitch.
'Thank you.' [ Laughter ] Thank you!
Listen, hostility is a step forward from ridicule.
Hostility means we're taken seriously.
And we felt that in the last election, right?
'Lock her up!' [ Laughter ] Yes, that article in with all these cartoons made me cry, because it's just so wrong and cruel.
Oh, and that one.
Only if you read past the part about the men I was going out with, do you find out that what I said was, 'Making a living as a freelance was easier than you think.'
Yeah, I'm dismissed by the media.
They depict me as never working hard and only getting somewhere because of my so-called good looks, as if I slept my way to the top.
But listen, if women could sleep their way to the top, there would be way more women at the top.
-There is false imaging of feminists everywhere!
-Like we're all anti-sex, too ugly to get a man, and have no sense of humor.
-It's simply a way, then and now, of trying to stop the movement.
-Then one day at a rally, a woman in the crowd says this great thing to me.
-Honey, it's important for someone who can play the game and win the game to say, 'The game isn't worth crap!'
[ Laughter ] -She helps me see we all have a role to play.
Maybe I can help break a false stereotype.
-Then a whole group of women -- Nina Finkelstein, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Suzanne Levine.
-Pat Carbine, Joanne Edgar, Mary Peacock, -Flo Kennedy, -And more.
We put our heads together.
-We've been listening to all these women in our talking circles on the road.
-We know what women want to talk about, what they want to read.
-And there's not one national magazine for women that's owned and edited by women.
-Okay. So what if we create a magazine to publish what we want to write about?
-Right, a magazine for women, with no intention of designing it around 'feminine' advertising.
-Like recipes or makeup ads.
-What if we create a magazine owned, controlled, and devoted to... -Making revolutions, not just dinner.
-We meet in my living room to discuss the name.
Ooh. What about Sojourner, after Sojourner Truth?
-I like that. -Sounds like a travel magazine.
-Sisters? -Mm, sounds religious.
-How about Bimbo?
[ Laughter ] -Fun, but trouble.
-What about Ms.? -What? -Ms.? -It's a centuries-old term.
It's in the dictionary.
-Oh, I'll look it up.
-I like Bimbo. -Yes! Yes!
[ Indistinct conversations ] -Here it is. Ms.
An abbreviation for mistress.
Like 'master,' it was also used for children.
-So it has nothing to do with marital status.
-That's it. -Short, good for a logo.
-And the exact parallel to Mr.
-The first edition of described as a new magazine for women, is at hand, and it's pretty sad.
I can imagine some stark, anti-sexist editorial meeting trying to decide what to do next.
After you've done marriage contracts, role exchanging, and the female identity crisis, what do you do?
As I said, it's sad. -You're sad.
-Because not even the most Neanderthal of us like predictability.
I suppose to these ladies, the most patronizing thing you can say is, 'I'm sorry.'
But I'm sorry, I'm sorry.
-The truth will set you free, but first, it will piss you off. Right?
-We know it will be economically tough because we're not writingabout fashion, beauty, and food, as advertisers demand.
-Fortunately, we don't know how tough.
-We cover-date the January preview issue 'Spring.'
-So it can stay on newsstands for three months without disgracing the movement if it doesn't sell.
-We fan out around the country to do free press on talk shows, since we can't afford to advertise.
-But when I'm in L.A., I'm on this TV show, and a woman calls in... -Hello?
We can't find -I call home in a panic. Maybe it hasn't been shipped!
And then I discover that it has sold out... in eight days!
-Eight days! -Eight days!
-I humbly admit that I was wrong when I predicted that the magazine of women's liberation, would fold after five or fewer issues.
has every right to feel proud.
[ Laughter ] -Whoo!
-♪ What you want ♪ Baby, I got it ♪ What you need ♪ Do you know I got it?
♪ All I'm askin' ♪ Is for a little respect when you come home ♪ -♪ Just a little bit -♪ Hey, baby -♪ Just a little bit -♪ R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me ♪ ♪ R-E-S-P-E-C-T, take care, TCB ♪ -♪ Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me ♪ ♪ Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me ♪ ♪ Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me ♪ ♪ Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me ♪ ♪ Just a little bit -And the letters!
-After the preview issue, 20,000 letters arrive in our one room office.
And they keep coming by the thousands, issue after issue.
-'I'm writing this on a day when I couldn't possibly feel any greater depression, alienation, or isolation.
I'm writing to you because I have no one, male or female, to talk to who won't try to push, cajole, threaten, even beg me into accepting my 'proper' role and 'duties' as a housewife and mother.
I live in an area where marriages thrive not on the mutual consideration of each other as equal human beings but on the Biblical 'man is the head of the house' myth.
I am probably the only woman in the county in which I exist, not live, who receives your magazine.
It has been literally a 'lifesaver.'' -'I have been told that I am stubborn, selfish, domineering, hate men, and crazy because I talk about that 'women's lib' thing.
I have been called unnatural because I don't want any more children.
I am the mother of two beautiful daughters whom I have been accused of not loving because I think there is more to life than motherhood alone.
Your magazine has given me the strength to go on believing that women were not put on this earth to be the handmaidens of men.'
-'I read while in prison.
First thing I did was break off with my lover who was also my pimp.
Second, I wondered why I got arrested and he didn't.
Then when I tried researching my case, I found out there areno law books in women's prisons, only in men's, and I made a formal complaint.
Ultimately, I got the books.
After getting out on parole, I enrolled in law school.
I recently passed the bar, and I thought you'd like to know.'
[ Women chuckle ] -This one's written in crayon in block letters.
-'I am 7 years old.
The boys get the big part of the playground at recess, and we get a corner for playing marbles and dolls.
We girls are mad as turnips!
[ Laughter ] -Turnips! Oh, I hope this girl becomes a writer.
-But not everyone is a fan.
-Some political leaders and some others have taken to not addressing women by Miss or Mrs.
but they've gone to the Ms., M-S.
Why not do that with White House letters?
[ Laughter ] -I guess I'm a little old-fashioned.
-Yeah. -But... I, uh, rather, uh -- rather prefer the Miss or Mrs.
Asked that silly God damn question about Ms.
You know what I mean? -Yeah.
-For -- sake, how many people really have read Gloria Steinem and give one -- about that?
-Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
[ Laughter ] -You might be surprised by that, and I was, too.
Not until all these tapes came out years later did I have any clue that Nixon was in the Oval Office with Kissinger saying these things.
Who knew? [ Laughter ] What I did know was that I was very proud to be on Nixon's enemies list.
Everybody on that list was very proud.
[ Laughter ] Because of Magazine, I'm the first woman ever invited to speak at the National Press Club in Washington.
The less secure the male, the more he has to prove, the more dangerous a leader.
Witness Richard Nixon.
There is some opinion that Richard Nixon is the most sexually insecure chief of state since Napoleon. [ Laughter ] Sound familiar?
-Ms. has been added to the U.S. government list of acceptable prefixes.
Ms., says the government, is 'an optional female title without marital designation.'
-You know who we have to thank for that?
Congresswoman Bella Abzug!
[ Cheers and applause ] -This decade has to be a 50/50 decade!
-Ah, the glorious Bella.
When I first meet Bella Abzug, she really scares the crap out of me.
-Because of the killing of the spirit and the meaning of American democracy, I do impeach the president of the United States, Richard Nixon! [ Women shouting angrily ] -She organizes a march against the Vietnam War.
-[ Chanting ] 1, 2, 3, 4,we don't want your freaking war!
5, 6, 7, 8, we don't want your freaking hate!
-We end up in this big auditorium at the State Department.
Bella is speaking out about our use of napalm in Vietnam, and she's yelling at Jacob Javits, the Republican senator from New York.
-You're not gonna challenge that!
-I'm saying that this is -- -Senator! Are you challenging that?
Stop the war!
Sign the peace agreement!
-I'm going to continue to fight against this war in spite of you, Bella!
-And I'm going to keep letting you speak to me in spite of you! [ Laughter ] -I have never seen a woman this outspoken or aggressive in public.
One night, after an organizing meeting, we walk home together on Lexington Avenue.
-[ Laughing ] And a truck driver leans out of his cab!
-Give 'em hell, Bella!
-You know I will! For you!
[ Imitates truck horn beeping ] -[ Laughs ] -Bella, do you know Al Goldstein?
-Ugh. Who doesn't know Al Goldstein?
Even his fellow pornographers are ashamed of him.
-Well, Al is torturing us at He's advertising an oral sex service with our office number.
What we hear when we pick up the phone -- -Hello. Magazine.
-Do you wanna know how big it is?
-And guess what he did on my birthday?
-What? -I'm leaving the office.
I look up. On the newsstand is a display of -His magazine? Yeah, yeah. -Yeah, yeah, it's hung open to show the centerfold, a graphic nude drawing of a woman with my face, my glasses, and my hair!
-No kidding.-Wait. Down the side of the page are drawings of penises and testicles.
-Ugh. -And at the top it says, 'Pin the -- on the Feminist.'
So what do the lawyers say?
-Well, we sent a lawyer's letter, and Al's answer came back today, a box of chocolateswith a note that says, 'Eat it!'
-[ Laughs ] -No! No, don't laugh!
It's a nude centerfold, in full labial detail, and it has my face and my head!
-And my labia.
[ Laughter ] Ah, come on.
He's an idiot. -[ Laughing ] I know!
-What are you gonna do? You gotta pick your battles.
-I never want to live in a world without a Bella Abzug in it.
The truth is she's the woman I wish I'd had as a mother.
-I am not old enough to be your mother!
-It's impossible to overestimate what we all owe Bella.
-I introduced the first gay rights legislation.
I was for legalizing abortion and for ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment.
-And she created one of the most underestimated events, I think, in this country's history -- the National Women's conference in 1977.
-The Houston Women's Conference is nothing less than a constitutional convention for the female half of the country.
-Well, we weren't at the first one!
-And only Bella could pull this off.
She gets Congress to fund... -With tax money!
...two years of conferences in every state and territory in the union.
-2,000 delegates are elected and issues are selected to be voted on nationally.
-And then everyone comes together in Houston.
Of course, there's this Phyllis Schlafly -- who's been elected by no one -- she organizes a counter meeting across town and gets at least an equal amount of press.
Ugh. -A major goal of their movement is to establish the homosexuals and the lesbians as just as respectable, just as entitled to rights and privileges under our system as husbands and wives.
I think this is breeding a new type of social disorder.
I think it is promoting a new type of narcissism.
And it is an attack on the family as the basic unit of our society.
-But at the National Women's Conference, the majority of the delegates support the Equal Rights Amendment... -Abortion rights... -And lesbian rights as a feminist issue.
[ Cheers and applause ] -My last-minute duty comes from the women-of-color caucuses.
They ask me to be a kind of scribe for what's called the Minority Plank.
I'm honored to be what they refer to as... -Our token. [ Laughter ] -We finish writing at the last possible moment.
-Then a representative of each caucus reads their part of the resolution.
-American Indian/Alaskan Native women have a relationship to Earth Mother and the Great Spirit, as well as a heritage based on the sovereignty of Indian peoples.
The Federal Government should guarantee tribal rights, tribal sovereignty, and permanently remove the threat of termination.
-Asian/Pacific-American women are wrongly thought to be part of a 'model' minority with few problems.
This obscures our vulnerability due to language and cultural barriers, especially sweatshop work conditions with high health hazards.
-The President and Congress should immediately address the crisis of unemployment which impacts the black community and results in black teenage women having the highest rate of unemployment.
-[ Speaking Spanish ] Deportation of mothers of American-born children must be stopped, and legislation enacted for parents to remain with their children.
[ Cheers and applause ] -At the end,Coretta Scott King comes forward with her bodyguard -- a reminder of past tragedies and present danger.
-Let this message go forth from Houston and spread all over this land.
There is a new force, a new understanding, a new sisterhood against all injustice that has been born here.
We will not be divided again.
I ask the delegates to accept the entire Minority Women's Plank by acclamation.
[ Cheers and applause ] -♪ We shall overcome ♪ We shall overcome ♪ We shall overcome ♪ Someday ♪ Oh, deep in my heart ♪ I do believe ♪ That we shall overcome ♪ Someday [ Humming ] -We are here, at last, to move history forward for women.
-And this time, America, we will not be denied.
-We will not be denied!
[ Humming ] -After the closing ceremony, I stand alone on the coliseum floor.
Will anybody know what happened here?
Will all this work continue?
-Abortion on demand now takes the lives of up to one and a half million unborn children a year.
Human life legislation ending this tragedy will someday pass the Congress, and you and I must never rest until it does.
♪♪ ♪♪ -♪ Let's hear it for the boy ♪ Let's give the boy a hand -[ Echoing ] ...never rest until it does.
-Welcome to the '80s.
[ Laughter ] My 50th birthday is a great party.
Also a benefit.
My funeral will also be a benefit!
Rosa Parks fills the room just by her presence, and Bella Abzug sings.
-[ Singing indistinctly ] ♪♪ -But hitting 50 is hard.
It's the end of something.
So I treat it with defiance, and decide I'll just keep on doing what I've always done -- traveling, organizing, fund-raising, lobbying, working for Ms., and generally doing a triage of emergencies all for a movement trying to change the oldest power inequity on the planet.
I'm on the road so often, I don't see my mother much in the last years.
Actually, I had detached from her.
I think I was still so afraid of turning into her.
In college, I -- I was embarrassed by her, mortified that she might show up on Parents' Weekend, like Ophelia drifting helplessly down the river.
Then on one of my last visits, she told me a story.
We were in rural Michigan at my father's dance resort.
My father always took the car to go buy and sell antiques in order to support us and my sister was off at school, leaving my mother alone with me, and I was just a baby.
There was no phone, no neighbor within walking distance.
The last straw was when the radio broke and suddenly it seemed like an eternity since she'd heard the sound of an adult human voice.
So she bundles me up, takes our dog, Fritzie, thinking she'll walk the 4 or 5 miles to the grocery store and talk to some people.
She's walking along the empty road with Fritzie running up ahead when a car comes speeding out of nowhere and hits Fritzie head-on.
She screams at the driver, but he never stops.
He doesn't turn his head.
He never even slows down.
Poor Fritzie is broken and bleeding but still alive.
So -- So she sits down in the middle of the road, holding him, determined to stop the next car.
She sits there for hours with me in her arms and Fritzie's head in her lap, but no car ever comes.
It's dark by the time he finally dies.
She drags Fritzie over to the side of the road, carries me back home, and washes the blood out of her clothes.
-When your father came home, I told him, 'From now on, I'm going with you.
I won't bother you. I'll just sit in the car.
But I can't bear to be alone, ever again.'
-After she told me this story, I looked in her brown eyes and for the first time, I saw she was my mother, not just someone to care for.
Why didn't you ever leave Dad?
Why didn't you keep your newspaper job?
Why didn't you marry the other man?
-Oh, it didn't matter.
I was lucky to have you and your sister.
If I'd left, you'd never have been born.
-I didn't have the courage to say, 'But, Mom, you might have been born.'
My mother died just before her 82nd birthday.
I wish I could have done more for her, been a better companion to her.
She left me all her books.
This one's about Eleanor Roosevelt.
I keep finding all her notes in the margins, seeing now how alike we were, though for so long I denied it.
I think of my mother, of all the Ruths, all the great novelists writing in just their diaries, all the great composers singing only lullabies, what a loss, when the roles outside limit the realities inside.
Like so many women, I am living the un-lived life of my mother.
After she dies, I don't stop for a moment.
No, I just keep on working even harder.
And I do yet another interview.
[ News jingle plays ] -Cleveland, Ohio. Hello.
I'm so excited to finally get to talk to you.
-Oh, wow. -I have a lot to say and I'll say it real quick.
First of all, I really believe that your movement was a total failure, and I believe you could admit that whole-heartedly.
You are one of the primary causes of the downfall of our beautiful American family and society today.
A couple questions -- I'd like to know if you're married... -No, I'm not. -...if you have children.
-No. -No, you don't?
Well, let me tell you -- don't ever have children, lady.
-Your life is worse because Gloria is in existence?
-Right. I've suspected for the last 15 years that Gloria Steinem should rot in hell.
-Of course, there are always responses like this.
Sometimes it hurts.
And this time, it really, really does.
That night, I check into my hotel room.
As usual, the welcome music is unbearably depressing.
[ Muzak playing ] All I ever heard in those rooms with my mother in Toledo.
But I put all those years behind me.
Those years made me strong, a survivor.
Nothing could ever be that bad again, right?
All I ever wanted was to escape that house, and I have!
So why, why do I still feel like I don't matter?
Okay, I always joke 'the examined life isn't worth living,' But as un-introspective as I am, I start to see how much I missed not having had a mother or a home.
I go back to my apartmentfor the first time in two years.
Good friends come over.
-Gloria, you don't eat, you don't sleep.
-You don't take care of yourself.
-There's not one thing in your refrigerator.
-We're unpacking these boxes.
-They've been sitting here unopened for 30 years!
With the help of my friends and a really good feminist therapist, I finally stop and start to look inside.
I see that, as a kid, I always felt invisible.
So, uh, I made myself feel real by being useful.
No wonder I was always working, always running, always on the road!
For the first time in my life, I write a personal book, 'Revolution From Within, A Book of Self-Esteem.'
You know how you write what you need?
Uncovering the link to the past makes the pain in the present start to diminish.
I now understand that, unlike my mother, I can leave because I can come home.
And I can come home because I -- I am free to leave.
I start to spend time, and then more and more time in Indian country.
Every day is a good day.
-I hope some of you know about Wilma Mankiller, Chief of the Cherokee Nation.
In a just country,Wilma would have been President.
People always ask Wilma about her name.
If they ask her nicely, Wilma explains... -It's a title for someone who guards the village.
It used to be Whitemankiller, but my family dropped the white. [ Laughter ] -If they ask her not nicely, she will say... -I earned it.
[ Laughter ] -Until I knew Wilma, I thought there were only two possibilities -- equality between males and females is impossible and contrary to human nature.
Or equality may be possible in the future, for the first time.
Then Wilma shows me a third.
-You know that Cherokee and some of the other oldest languages don't have gendered pronouns, right?
No he or she.
People are people. There's no hierarchy.
-No, I didn't know that. -Because we're matrilineal, women have control over property, children, and our own bodies.
Through the ancient use of herbs, timing, and abortifacients, we decide when and whether to get pregnant.
We used to call white women Those who die in childbirth.
-Oh, my God.
-Our female elders have to be consulted before any decisions are made that affect our community.
Because our women had power, Washington called us 'the petticoat nation.'
They thought it was an insult!
-At the heart of our governance is the caucus, an Algonquin word that means talking circles.
It's a consensus among women and men.
The paradigm of human organization for us is the circle, not the pyramid.
A blinding light goes on in my brain.
I never knew there was a paradigm that linked instead of ranked.
-Actually, the Iroquois Confederacy is the oldest functioning democracy in the world.
It's the model for the US Constitution.
Everybody knows democracy started in Ancient Greece!
Then I research the Constitutional Convention and discover that Benjamin Franklin did use the Iroquois Confederacy as his model.
-How Native nations across America convene to make mutual decisions.
-And also allow local autonomy for the tribes.
-Yes! Franklin hopes that the U.S. Constitution will do the same for the 13 states.
That's why he invites two Iroquois men to Philadelphia as advisors.
-Guess what their first question is said to be.
-'Where are the women?'
-A big part of our problem in this country is simple ignorance of what the oldest cultures have to teach us.
-This will keep you safe.
-Though she is younger than I am, Wilma becomes my mentor.
Her gift for helping people find confidence in themselves is exactly what I need both in my work and in my life.
I experience first-hand from her the Native belief that.. -Wealth is not what you accumulate.
It's what you give.
-I'm now living with a new understanding.
Plus for the first time, I'm free and un-partnered.
I finally stopped being a romance junkie!
Even though I always loved that quote 'A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle' -- Don't you love that? I love that quote.
The truth is I always had a man in my life.
In high school, I had two!
But to my credit, I never married any of them.
So David Bale coming into my life when I'm 66 is quite a surprise for me.
David is the most intensely living-in-the-present person I have ever met in my life.
He carries pet food and water around with him because if he sees an injured dog or cat or bird on the side of the road, he stops to take care of them.
He was born in South Africa, and we're looking at all the ways he can get a new visa but there isn't any way except marriage!
And we want to be together.
The last thing I ever thought I would do in my life was get married!
When people used to ask me why I wasn't married, I'd say, 'Because I can't mate in captivity!'
But marriage isn't what it was when I was avoiding it in my youth.
-We worked 30 years to change the laws.
-Back then, if you got married, you lost your legal domicile... -Your credit rating... -Your name... -And many of your basic civil rights.
-But now, if it gets him a green card and keeps him in the country, why not?
[ Laughter ] We're together only three years.
He begins to have memory problems and coordination problems, and then he gets really sick.
He died of brain lymphoma.
As devastating as his death is, it was a kind of healing.
I got to take care of David the way I couldn't ever take care of my mother.
After he died, Wilma shares something with me.
-I had a near-death experience -- a head-on car collision on a country road.
I want you to know it was ecstasy.
I had a feeling of warmth, of safety.
I was flying faster than any human being could fly, looking down at earth, feeling an immense sense of happiness, as if I was finally seeing the purpose of life!
I wanted to keep flying into that ecstasy, but I pulled back because I thought, 'My daughters need me.'
-I keep hoping David felt that ecstasy.
♪♪ Age is supposed to create more serenity, calm, and detachment from the world, right?
Well, I'm finding just the reverse.
I'm enjoying being a nothing-to-lose, take-no-crap older woman.
The older I get, the more I'm living an intensified life, the more likely I am to feel rage when people are rendered invisible, the more able I am to use my own voice, to know what I feel, to say what I think.
I'm becoming more radical with age.
-Most women become more radical with age!
-I used to think continuing my active sex life was the height of radicalism.
But why not take advantage of hormonal changes to clear my mind, sharpen my senses, and free whole areas of my brain?
-Aging gives us permission to be whoever we are... -And say whatever the hell we think!
♪♪ -Ms. Steinem, do you have any thoughts today about -- -America's obsession with guns? -Yes.
-Well, when you look at school shootings and the concert shootings and the theater shootings and mass shootings of all kinds, what do you see?
They're almost always committed by... -Men. -Specifically white men, right?
-Right. --Usually domestic abusers or sons of domestic abusers and not poor.
-Right. -Exactly the group of people told by society they have the right to dominate others.
And when they're not able to dominate others, then they kill in order to prove their power.
But it's rarely blamed on white men or guns, right?
-Right. -It's blamed on... -Mental health issues. -So what are people saying?
That masculinity is a mental disease?
-[ Laughs ] -The problem isn't men.
It's the 'masculine' role that makes some men feel they need to dominate.
If we can liberate men from that prison, there is hope for us all.
But we can't keep putting movements in silos!
You can't put racism over here and sexism over here and gun violence over here!
They're all connected.
-At a time when abortion clinicsare closing all over the country and violence against women is at its peak, we at Planned Parenthood are grateful to have Gloria Steinem with us here in Memphis today.
-Violence against women comes from trying to control reproduction, and controlling women's bodies is the whole patriarchal ball game.
Keep in mind the laws governing slaves were adapted from the laws governing wives.
We were all property.
Until women can decide the fate of our own bodies, women will not be free.
We are not going to be a majority white country, in another, like, two minutes.
And those people who have placed their identity with the white race or the male gender or both are in a form of panic right now, and they are lashing out.
There's always a backlash.
What's so different about this moment is the backlash is in the White House!
-A day after the inauguration of Donald Trump, thousands of women descend on Washington, turning the National Mall into a sea of pink hats and homemade signs in support of gender equality.
-We march today for the moral core of this nation against which our new President is waging war.
-670 cities across the world are having what are being called sister marches.
Over seven million people have come out to march worldwide.
[ Cheering ] -This is an outpouring of energy and true democracy like I have never seen in my very long life.
Sometimes we must put our bodies where our beliefs are.
Sometimes pressing send is not enough.
The Constitution does not begin with 'I, the President.'
It begins with 'We, the people.'
In his inaugural address yesterday, the President said he was with the people.
Indeed, he the people.
To paraphrase a famous quote, I just have to say, 'I have met the people, and you, sir, are not the people.'
We are the people.
Don't try to divide us.
We are here and we are around the world and we will not be quiet.
We will not be controlled.
We are at one with each other, and we are never, never turning back.
[ Cheers and applause ] -My friends and I might still be 11, and we might still be in elementary school, but we know.
We know life isn't equal for everyone.
And we know what is right and wrong.
-♪ Rise up for the women of the world ♪ ♪ For the women of the world, rise up ♪ -In America, no one is powerless when we come together.
-We're marching for stolen women on stolen land, and we're still a colonized people.
-Black lives matter! Black lives matter!
-I am a trans woman writer, activist, revolutionary of color.
Our approach to freedom need not be identical, but it must be intersectional and inclusive.
[ Crowd chanting indistinctly ] -They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars.
We call BS.
-I cannot imagine that for the next 50 years, they will have to have someone in the Supreme Court who has been accused of violating a young girl.
What are you doing, sir?
-The rage many of us are still feeling right now can be an energy cell.
Whether you're talking to family or marching with friends or putting your foot in an elevator door and forcing a Senator to listen, don't worry about what you should do.
Just do whatever you can do.
All of our stories matter.
Each of us here knows things no one else knows, and every one of our stories is of value.
So for the very angering and long and exciting future, don't look up -- that's giving up your power.
Look out at each other and find shared power.
Dear friends and sisters, all my life, I've searched for a family, and I found it in the women's movement, my chosen family.
I know I won't be with you on this earth much longer, though I plan to live to be 100.
I have to just to meet my deadlines!
I love it here so much.
I never want it to end.
I want this work to go on and on and on, and because I am a hope-aholic, I know, I know it will.
-♪ 'Cause no one knows me ♪ No one ever will ♪ If I let them hear ♪ What I have to say ♪ I can't keep quiet ♪ Oh, no, no, no ♪ I can't keep quiet ♪ Oh, no, no, no ♪ A one woman riot ♪ Oh, no, no, no ♪ I can't keep quiet ♪ For anyone ♪ No ♪ Not anymore ♪ 'Cause no one knows me ♪ No one ever will -Thank you so much.
Hi. My name is Christine Lahti, and I want to thank you for being such an incredible audience today and welcome you to Act 2.
-Today, we have a special guest who will launch our talking circle.
-No introduction is needed.
[ Cheers and applause ] [ Cheers and applause continue ] -Yes!
-No, no, no, you... You have to sit down. We don't have time.
[ Laughter ] I'm so grateful to these amazing women who have created the adventure of Act 1, right?
Is that not fantastic?
And especially to Christine.
The only problem is now I have to follow myself.
[ Laughter ] But Act 2 is a talking circle.
And what that means is that we are so eager to hear stories from your lives that are perhaps a response, maybe have been evoked,by the various stories of Act 1.
And we're together in a circle, and this is a special time.
In 1976, I covered the Democratic National Convention for and I met Bella Abzug there.
And I asked her what advice she would give to women who are interestedin running for political office?
And she said, 'Do it, do it.
Get out there and do it.'
And I am so glad that I have lived to see this happen.
[ Cheers and applause ] -And I'm so glad that you knew Bella.
And now even people who are too young to know Bella know Bella, right?
[ Laughter ] -Hi.
I just wanted to say quickly people like you and all the amazing women we got to see projected around the room and hear about and people like my mom, who I'm here with, because of the paths that you guys took and the things that you stood up to do, I was able to do anything.
Like, I was able to study fashion business here at FIT in New York, but at the same time, I was able to graduate and become a journalist and report on things like mental health and women's movements and be a woman and be able to do that and not have the same barriers because people like you stood up and tore those down.
So thank you.
[ Cheers and applause ] -Thank you.
But I need you to be mad at the barriers that already exist.
-Oh, I am. Don't worry. -Okay, okay.
[ Laughter ] Because this is the whole purpose of us golden oldies here, you organizing together.
I mean, I have hope because I remember when it was worse.
-Mm-hmm. -You're mad as hell because it should be a lot better and we need each other.
-Definitely. Thank you. -Thank you.
[ Applause ] -Hello. I want to say I saw you 27 years ago.
My daughter was 6 months old.
You signed a book to my youngest fan.
[ Laughter ] And I brought my three girls here because as far as we've come, we still have to go farther.
We have to do more.
We still do not have equality for all humans.
We can't forget about it.
If you're in your 20s and 30s, started in your college, started on your road, started in your street, thank you for you and all of your friends that have gotten us this far.
I appreciate everything you've done and given up.
But we have to go further.
Keep doing it no matter what age you are.
-Yes. No. And now we have a very dangerous backlash precisely because we have had a fair amount of success, and the majority of the country now believes what social-justice movements believe and what the environmental movement believes.
But the most dangerous time is right after a success.
Lynching did not happen during slavery.
It happened after emancipation, right?
And the reason we have a third of the country, more or less, now that elected the accident in the White House is a backlash against the success you describe.
So it is a time of celebration and danger at the same time.
[ Applause ] -I went with my mom to Washington, which was for the Women's March.
It was really powerful, and since then, it felt like we were really making a change.
But then we've had Trump still in office.
We've had Kavanaugh.
And you had to go through a lot of other challenges, so I was just wondering how you kind of stayed strong throughout everything.
-Well, I do remember when it was worse.
-I have never seen the level and depth and, you know, of activism that I'm seeing now.
It is huge. It is huge -- people who didn't vote before and are running for office.
Is it dangerous? Yes.
But [chuckles] do we now have the majority, as I was saying?
We do, we do.
And you are going to be going so much longer than me, I'm so glad to see.
[ Applause ] -Hi. I grew up in the '60s and '70s, when everything was changing and positive and hopeful.
I have a daughter now who's 36, and I see things getting worse.
I see things getting harder.
All the things that I instilled in her that were hopeful don't feel that way now.
And I'm glad I'm here today sharing it, because I find it very depressing and sad at times.
But I'm trying to be hopeful.
-Well, I do think we need the old and the young for exactly the reason that you have said.
And if we keep being in circles like this, nothing can stop us.
-Thank you. This has encouraged me a bit.
-Yes, good. [ Applause ] -So, I know from a very young age that I have often been told, 'You are too strong, you're too assertive, you're too direct.
You need to soften your approach.'
It's something that I have heard pretty much all my life.
-Say thank you. [ Laughter ] -And so that is the first thing that struck me the next time I'm called a bitch, that that will be my reaction, and own it.
[ Applause ] -Hi there. My name's Perry, and I'm not here with my mom tonight.
She was born in 1957.
Don't tell her that I told you what year she was born, even though it's something to be proud of.
And she's a lesbian.
And this show made me think about how much I not only I owe to her as my mother, but as a woman who experienced a lot that we don't always talk about 'cause it's painful.
But it makes me want to call her and say thank you.
-That's great. That's great.
[ Applause ] Send her love from us and tell her thank you.
-So, I also I wanted to say thank you for everything that you've done.
I'm old enough to have seen much of it during my life, as well, and can't thank you enough for what you've done.
-You don't need to thank me. I want to hear your story.
-Well, I wanted to say first that the stories of your mom really resonated with me.
My mother had to in the mid-1940s sign a contract with her father that she would become a teacher and not a lawyer because he didn't believe a female lawyer could ever get married.
So I went on to become a lawyer.
[ Cheers and applause ] -And my daughter is a lawyer. [ Cheers and applause ] And sitting here, and I can understand people you know, coming in and feeling that times are very depressing now in terms of what's happening with women.
But seeing this retrospective for me actually makes me feel very hopeful and very positive.
What I think it shows, change doesn't happen at the same pace, and change is not linear.
We have come an incredibly long way.
The challenges we have now, they are equally important and equally challenging, but they're different.
And I hope everyone here can share it with daughters or other women in their families.
Every generation should see this and be energized and uplifted and hopeful that it can happen.
-And your story, becoming lawyers and having the radical idea that the law could be related to justice... [ Laughter ] ...is we're not gonna forget that.
-And with women finally getting into the real positions of power in the government, I think we can see real change.
-Oh, thank you.
[ Applause ] -Hi. My name is Dawn, and I just wanted to share my mother is still alive.
I'm sorry. I'm emotional.
She's 92, and she waited on my father hand and foot all her life.
You know, he'd be at the table, and the salt and pepper shaker would be there, and he'd say, 'Get me the salt and pepper.'
I would sit there in my older years saying, 'You get up and get the freaking salt and pepper.'
You know, you got legs. What the heck?
But anyways, I'm a CEO and a president in a company, and my mother was -- oh.
[ Cheers and applause ] The only point I'm making to that is my mother was visiting me, and I was on a conference call, and I had it on a speakerphone, and there was a man at the other end.
And we're talking and having that.
He's asking me advice, whatever.
We hang up.
My mother -- she's in her robe.
She creeps into my room, and she goes, 'Was that a man you were talking to?'
And I said, 'Yeah.'
And she goes, 'And you were telling him what to do.'
[ Laughter ] And it dawned on me what a different world she lived in and how grateful I am.
So I want to thank you for everything you've done.
[ Applause ] -I thank you,and I wonder how many of us here are living out the unlived lives of our mothers, right?
A lot of us, right?
And a lot of men, too, living out the unlived lives oftheir mothers and their fathers.
So I hope we get to a place where they can live their lives and we can live ours.
[ Cheers and applause ] -Gloria, I want to say thank you.
My name is Logan. I'm here with my mom.
I'm a founder of a technology startup, and like many industries, there's just such a power dynamic -- fundraising, usually only woman in the room.
It's changing slowly.
But I always felt like I had to deserve to make a difference or I needed to succeed or have an exit in my industry before I could start giving back.
And it was stories like yoursand specifically the documentary when I said, 'What am I waiting for?'
And the most rewarding part so far of my short, but exciting career was I spoke at a high school, and young teenage girls came up to me after and said, 'I used to think a CEO was like an older, white dude.
And after hearing you talk, I want to be a CEO.'
[ Applause ] -So thank you.
-Thank you so much.
Thank you. [ Laughs ] -Hi, Gloria.
I am a marriage and family therapist, but I find that one of my main struggles with couples that I work with, specifically heterosexual couples, is I will work with women who can talk about the progress that they're so happy is being made, but then within their own lives, on this very micro scale, they aren't able to understand how they're being oppressed.
And I guess an issue that I keep finding is that when I try to ask certain questions to help people to understand their oppression, including men, I get a lot of defensiveness, a lot of pushback, even though they're here for help.
These couples are here for help.
There's a problem in our marriage, and the problem is oppression.
And it seems as though we as a society aren't doing enough to go into the microscale.
The macroscale, we're making so much progress in women's marches, and it's such a beautiful sight.
But within our homes, I don't think enough is being done.
-No, I agree, and the two things are connected.
I mean, we are never going to have a true democracy until we have democratic families, until men are raising children as much as women, children -- men, too -- will grow up thinking that men can't be as loving and nurturing as women, and that's not true.
Of course that's not true.
So it is -- what you are doing is the basis of democracy.
And maybe if they see that, if you can tell them about the connections, maybe that would help.
[ Applause ] -Hello, Gloria.
I'm 82, so I lived through all of this.
I remember you from day one.
I divorced two husbands who were sexually abusive and unfaithful and 'That's women's work,' And, 'I'm not a real woman because,' blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
I also had bosses that walked around the office with a bullwhip making all kinds of sexist comments.
You'll be happy to know I brought them to court and won the case.
[ Applause ] -So great.Thank you, thank you, thank you.
-I'm also very proud to mention that I brought up two sons who are now married.
They each have two children.
They do their laundry.
They do the laundry for the whole family.
They cook the meals.
They get the kids up in the morning.
They get them dressed. They get them fed.
They drive them to school.
Their wives go out on business trips.
They come home to a meal.
All the laundry for the week has been done.
Everything is done. [ Laughter ] So -- [ Laughs ] [ Applause ] -And I bet they don't need the marriage counselor over here.
Yeah. [ Laughter ] -Gloria, I want to thank you for being an incredible role model for me throughout my entire life.
What I wanted to say is I found out that my mother's mother had died of an abortion, and it was a really big secret in the family.
Nobody knew anything. My mother didn't even know.
And her entire family was broken up.
Brothers went here. Another brother went there.
And it was just an incredibly horrible tragedy.
When I look at what's going on today, I think people are just under the most incredible misunderstanding about it.
And it just has to be a woman's decision, and it just makes me nuts when Ilook around at what's happening.
And I feel helpless. I really do.
-No, but you're not helpless, and it's great that you tell that story.
It's very important because it is a fundamental human right to decide what goes on with our own bodies.
It's the beginning of democracy.
She should not have had to be ashamed, much less endangered for a procedure that one in three American women had needed at some time even then.
-Yeah, yeah. I also want to thank you, because I remember that you said you need to march like once a month just to keep, like, your blood flowing.
-So thank you. Thank you for that.
-[ Laughs ] Thank you.
[ Laughter ] -So, thank you so much, and it's very nice to meet you in this forum.
I'm sure you're inspiring everybody by the second here.
I was wondering if you could speak a little about the spirituality you experienced dealing with -- Was it Wilma and the Cherokee Nation?
Because I think it's a time nowto unite, you know, the country.
And I was wondering if you could speak -- -No. I agree so much.
And as you can see from the play, you know, she changed my life.
But I want to say -- where is Delanna?
Okay. This is Wilma Mankiller's cousin, a member of her family.
[ Applause ] -And when she, as an actor, appeared to do this play, and she's Wilma's cousin, I said, 'Okay, the universe is telling us something.'
[ Laughter ] -Do you want to explain?
-My name is Delanna Studi.
I'm a proud citizen of the Cherokee Nation from Oklahoma.
I grew up hearing stories about Wilma Mankiller and then going to powwow with her.
She was not only my chief, she's the reason why my family has running water in our small community in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma.
And she was the way my father reared me.
He said, 'You want to be a woman like Wilma.'
And so all my life, I wanted to be Wilma, and so now I get to be Wilma eight shows a week.
[ Laughter and applause ] So I just want to say Because you made one of my earliest childhood dreams come true.
And every night I feel like I get to bring her spirit back to life, and I get to share this wonderful story with so many people.
And I do believe that we are making the world better by telling the stories.
[ Applause ] -I wouldn't forgive myself if I didn't say this.
I'm an attorney, and I just want to take the opportunity to remind everybody that we need one more state to ratify the ERA.
It's still not ratified, and women are still not equal under the U.S. Constitution.
And they give us a lot of news about cases that women have won in the courts, and it's wonderful, but we are not protected by the highest level of scrutiny in the courts.
I know that the movement is focusing on Arizona right now.
I just encourage everybody to pay attention and maybe research into it and do anything you can to support them.
Most people are just shocked that it's not passed still, and I think it's crazy today that we live in a world that women are not equal under the Constitution.
So one more state.
Let's make it happen before Ruth goes.
[ Applause ] Yes, women... Women were equal on this subcontinent before Columbus showed up, okay, thinking, incidentally, that he was in India.
I mean, he was a terrible navigator, alright?
So it's high time that we regained the equality that, as you've heard, we had.
[ Cheers and applause ] -Hi. I was born in 1937.
I firmly believe we would have had a more peaceful, loving world if women had run it.
-[ Chuckles ] [ Cheers and applause ] -First of all, I'm older than you.
That's my present.
[ Laughter ] And secondly, we only want to run half of it.
[ Laughter ] And I think we all need to be free of the old rules.
[ Cheers and applause ] -So, I'm 14, and last year, I gave a speech at a march that my school annually holds on Martin Luther King Day.
And I gave my speech about victim-blaming and how toxic masculinity is, like, prevalent in culture.
And I remember I was looking for inspiration for my speech, and I went into Barnes and Noble, and I picked up one of your books -- I don't remember which one it was -- and I just started reading the entire thing as much as I had time for before I had to leave.
And I just wanted to say thank you.
[ Applause ] -I know that people are supposed to and we need to work for money, but I just want to say that when you say that to me, that is such a much bigger reward any amount of money could possibly be.
Thank you, thank you.
-And I just want to add that my daughter is here with her 91-year-old grandmother, and we're all for you.
-Oh, that's great.
[ Applause ] -We're gonna end by making Gloria's organizers deal with you.
Promise to do at least one outrageous thing in the cause of social justice.
Starting tomorrow morning at, say, 9:00 a.m. -- that's not too early.
It could be as simple as saying... -Pick it up yourself!
[ Laughter ] -...or as complicated as... -Deciding to run for political office.
[ Cheers and applause ] -...or as basic as... -Telling each other our salaries.
-Actually, the one thing we do know.
-And when we share this, we discover what is and isn't fair.
-Or you can sponsor a group of students to come and see this play.
[ Applause ] -And you can do that by becoming a Hope-aholic.
You can find out more information about this initiative in our lobby and also on our website, gloriatheplay.com.
-If you do one outrageous thing in the next 24 hours, I will, too.
And I promise you two surefire results.
-First, by the very next day, this world will be better.
-And second, you will feel so great!
You will never again get up saying... -Will I do an outrageous thing?
Only... -Which outrageous thing will I do today?
Thank you for joining us. Thank you.
[ Applause ] ♪ Hey ♪ Oh ♪ Heyyyy ♪ Takin' my freedom -♪ Oh ♪ Heyyyy ♪ Takin' my freedom ♪ Puttin' it in my car ♪ -To find out about this and other great performances, visit pbs.org/greatperformances, find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.
♪ ...like it's golden, golden ♪ I'm taking my own freedom ♪ Putting it in my stroll ♪ I'll be high-stepping, y'all ♪ Letting the joy unfold ♪ I'm livin' my life like it's golden ♪ ♪ Livin' my life like it's golden ♪ ♪ Livin' my life like it's golden, golden ♪ ♪ Livin' my life like it's golden ♪ ♪ It really matters to me, oh ♪ Livin' my life like it's golden ♪ ♪ Golden, it's golden ♪ Golden, golden ♪ It's golden