Today, while channel surfing, I was lucky enough to land on the HBO channel which was showing a documentary about Gloria Steinem. Lucky because most of the attention on other channels was focused on current media favorites, the Kardashians.
I used to assume that most women know about Gloria Steinem, Ms. Magazine, Bella Abzug, and others in the women’s movement which gained momentum in the 1970s. Whatever you may have felt, or still feel about this time of great change, the results of the efforts of Gloria Steinem and others around her have had a significant impact on the personal, professional, and financial lives of women.
Recently I have begun to wonder if the young women of today are being taught about powerful and successful women who have helped us to arrive at where we are today. Have they heard the names of Gloria Steinem and Oprah Winfrey as often as they experience minute-by-minute reporting on the Kardashians?
Gloria Steinem is now in her late 70s and it is understandable that not all young women have studied much about her, yet. However, I just assumed that everyone who is old enough to watch television or surf the internet would know about Oprah Winfrey. Not true. Recently I was visiting with a group of young women who are in high school. I discovered they really don’t know who Oprah is, what she has accomplished, or even how rich she is.That is interesting since rich is usually something teens care about. This lack of awareness of Oprah was a big surprise. Fortunately I have listened to Oprah’s story often enough to recite it to them. After that, I started bringing a few copies of O Magazine so the students could learn more. In another conversation, I discovered that each of them could immediately identify Kim Kardashian and knew all about the man in her life, Kanye West. Major reality check for me!
It is exciting that the blogosphere allows the writer to reach out to people of many generations all over the world. If you are reading this and find that you are clueless as to who Gloria Steinem is, or what she stands for, please just “google her” or even watch her story on HBO. Perhaps you have only a passing understanding of Oprah Winfrey’s life and accomplishments. Once again, a quick google will teach you a lot.
I am grateful we are no longer living in the times when Gloria and Oprah were starting out and leading their own special brand of change for women, but I do know it is important to understand the past to appreciate today!
Until next time.