Sunday, September 28, 2014

CIA Pet?

Gloria was a rescue animal.


Gloria had, she herself admits, traveled on CIA money while in college.  If she traveled on the money, then she did so

The CIA found Steinem in college and, needing a front, hired her to spy on youth activists participating in a 'radical' European festival.

She explained, before she became feminist Gloria, that she wasn't troubled by working with the CIA because they were progressive.

After the festival, Gloria went to India, a trip that resulted in her first published book because, in the early sixties, the big book craze was writers you never heard about before writing about India.

Oh, that wasn't a big book craze?

Well somehow, she landed the book contract.  Even with bad writing.  Gloria's writing has improved over the years but she's still not able to write a book -- as she demonstrates repeatedly.

She can do journalism but journalism isn't really book writing -- not the kind of books she tries to write anyway.

So it really is amazing that this woman with nothing to point to and no one to network -- other than the CIA, of course -- ends up with a book contract.

It's amazing that this woman does this -- and does it as Betty Friedan's writing The Feminine Mystique which more than documents the obstacles so many women face in trying to work.

But not the coed with no claim to fame.

While other women struggle, while a name like Anais Nin has to self-publish, Little Gloria lands a book deal.

And then it's back or 'back' to work for the CIA post-college.

These are many other issues -- does a feminist really let Henry Kissinger stick his cock in her? -- are why The Redstockings asked about Gloria's CIA past.

She'd brought it on herself by, in 1976, refusing to stand with feminists at the DNC convention and instead insisting that women needed to stop demanding from the Democratic Party and instead accept what was being offered.

Moments like those stood out.

Gloria was this little nothing journalist who stroked a lot of male egos -- Norman Mailer, Clay Faulkner, Jimmy Breslin, etc. -- and was the mini-skirted token or mascot as a result.

She posed as a Playboy Bunny and did other stunt journalism to call attention to herself.

And then, suddenly, she notices the feminist movement.

And then, just as suddenly, she's the leader.

Yes, as Susan Faludi's noted in Backlash, the ascension was in part due to the media's love of a young(ish) blond.

But it's hard to think of any political movement where a neophyte moved from spectator to leader so quickly.

It's also hard to think of any political movement which was (briefly) so open that Gloria could move up and then quickly closed ranks to ensure that no one ever rose up to challenge her.

The Redstockings did challenge her.

They were there at the beginning.

They had done the work.

And they weren't 'disgruntled.'

They were puzzled.

The feminist movement, which they'd helped lead, had challenged and fought and, as a result, you had reproductive rights, abortion rights, more women in the media, a dawning realization that house work was work, and much more.

This resulted, again, because women challenged and fought.

Then came 1976 and, four years of the humiliation of women in Miami (a DNC convention that left Gloria crying in public), the 'leader' of the feminist movement was not fighting, was not challenging but instead fighting for the Democratic Party honchos (and fighting against feminism) while insisting women needed to accept the crumbs offered them.

(If you're new to Gloria's 1976 stab in the back, see  Veronica Geng's "Requiem for the women's movement," the November 1976 cover story of Harper's.  And for ab earkuer take from 1972 that paints Gloria as a sell-out to women, see Germaine Greer's "McGovern, the big tease" from the October 1972 issue of Harper's.)

It is in this environment that Gloria's CIA past became an issue.

Before becoming a feminist 'leader,' Gloria loved to talk about her CIA past.  You can find print interviews and video interviews of her doing just that.

After becoming a feminist 'leader,' she acted as though those days never existed.

And when confronted by the feminist movement, she outright lied.

She minimized what she'd done and then insisted that she'd spoken and the book was closed.

Maybe Betty Friedan's questioning of Gloria's CIA involvement was just that ravings of a woman of a certain age being pushed aside by a younger woman.


Of course, that's a really sexist explanation.

Another explanation is that Betty truly believed Gloria was destroying feminism.

Looking at all that's been lost under her 'leadership,' we'd say Betty was concerned for good reason.

We'd also say that Gloria's only real contribution to feminism has been modeled weakness and subservience to existing power structures. It's past time the elderly woman explained whether that was by intent or she's just inept.

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