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Judi Freedman

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Thank You Gloria Steinem for Paving the Way for Women

Posted: 08/17/11 01:16 PM ET

What a relaxing evening I had the other night. I took a break and watched the HBO documentary Gloria: In Her Own Words. The Gloria was Gloria Steinem. I watched and I remembered and throughout the program, as Gloria spoke, all I wanted to say was "Thank You, Gloria."

I wanted to thank Gloria for paving the way so that I could have a successful career. I wanted to thank Gloria for working as a Playboy bunny to write an expose when she was 28 years old, so that women who came after her didn't have to wear bunny tails.

Gloria started the feminist movement in the late '60s into the early '70s. I wasn't even a teenager then. I was only 11 years old. It's hard to believe that when I was 11 years old, some bars and restaurants did not allow women to dine in their establishments. Imagine that.

I wanted to thank Gloria for starting Ms. Magazine magazine in the '70s. That was about the time I was entering high school and then college. I read Ms. Magazine. Did you? 'Ms.' became an optional title without a married title. Little did I know that 30 years later I would use the 'Ms.' title when I turned 50 and became a widow.

Gloria shared her story about her mom. Her mom was a pioneer in journalism in Toledo. However, Gloria said that "she could not do it all and she had a nervous breakdown" when Gloria was a young girl. Her parents were divorced and she had to take care of her mother. Gloria did what her mother always wanted to do in her life -- Gloria became a journalist.

"A lot of my generation are living out the un-lived lives of our mothers," Gloria said. I may not be of your generation, Gloria, but as a baby boomer, I too believe I am living out the un-lived life of my mother. I always thought my mother wanted to go to college, but she was never able to because her father died at a young age and she had to go to work to help support her family. I bet my mom would have been a great elementary school teacher if she had had a chance to continue her education. My sister N and I learned so much from my mom and I know other children would have benefited too.

Gloria turned 50 in 1984. I was 26 in 1984, almost half her age. That was the year I got married to my late husband M. In 1984, Gloria said that "50 is what 40 used to be." In 2011, we say "50 is the new 30." Gloria said that "turning 50 was hard because it was the end of something." Now, we say "50 is the start of the second half of your life." Perceptions have sure changed in the last quarter century.

I was surprised when the powerful Gloria Steinem admitted that she hit bottom in 1992. She said she realized that she had little self-esteem. She had been a neglected child. How sad. That is when she wrote Revolution from Within. I too had self-esteem issues when I was growing up. I'll have to read her book.

Gloria ended the evening with a fine piece of advice to the younger folks (that includes me too, right?). "Do not listen to my advice," she said. "Listen to the voice within yourself."

At fifty-something, I've finally found my voice, and I'm finally listening to it.

I'm glad "you love being here Gloria and I hope you live to 100," just as you said in your own words on Monday night.

Judi

P.S. - My blog, A Baby Boomer Woman's Life After 50, is nominated for a Philly's Best Blog Award. Voting is now open until September 9th. Please vote for my blog under the Everything category and vote every day if you want me to win. Thank you.

P.S.S. -- Watch for upcoming posts about all the great boomer bloggers I met at the BlogHer '11 Conference. I took another detour this week because I just was so inspired by the Gloria Steinem documentary that I had to share it with you.

 

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