Sunday, July 24, 2016

Why Gloria Steinem's CIA past still matters (Ava and C.I.)

Gloria Steinem installed herself as the leader of the feminist movement in 1970.

Prior to that, she'd spent several years working for the CIA and then became a free lance journalist.


At some point, around 1968 or 1969, she was again working for the CIA.

She was listed as a board member of a CIA cut-out.

The cut-outs had been exposed by Congress at one point.

They were 'foundations' that existed solely to funnel CIA money in secret.

As Gloria -- and her media friends (some former CIA like Gloria herself) -- made her into the voice of feminism, she repeatedly watered down and weakened feminism.

Which is why Betty Friedan (the so-called mother of us all and of second wave feminism) publicly floated the charges about her CIA past and others suggested that she clarify when she left the CIA and whether or not she was a government tool who was being paid to destroy feminism?

Gloria knew not to tangle with Betty Friedan.

Friedan was more established than Gloria and had more supporters than Gloria in the press.

So she just ignored those remarks.

But the Restockings had started asking the questions.

And they demanded answers.

When they had a contract to publish an anthology with Random House, Gloria did what a sneaky CIA agent would do, she rounded up friends to threaten to sue.

The chapter was dropped.

Nancy Borman (VILLAGE VOICE) investigated the entire issue in 1976 and found that Gloria Steinem and her friends had no basis for crying "libel."

And, as Borman noted, the CIA issue had already been discussed by Gloria in the press:

In 1967 both the New York Times and the Washington Post carried interviews with Steinem in the wake of Ramparts' expose of CIA funding of the National Student Association and other organizations. Steinem was the founder and director of one of those groups, Independent Research Service, for which she had solicited and obtained CIA money to carry out covert operations at Communist youth festivals in Vienna and Helsinki in 1959 and 1952. Unlike most of the other principals in the scandal, who had repudiated their past work with the agency and turned over information to the press, Steinem defended her secret deal with the CIA, calling the undermining of the youth festivals "the CIA's finest hour."

All these years later, decades, Gloria still can't get honest.

The internet has only made the realities harder for her to run from.  (Here's a 1975 PACIFICA RADIO interview with Redstocking Kathie Sarachild discussing Gloria and her CIA connections.)

Gloria Steinem was dishonest.

She was dishonest when she went to youth festivals to subvert them.

She was dishonest when she was confronted about this after she joined the feminist movement.

That's why her past still matters.

She might not have continued working for the CIA.

But she continued being dishonest.

Feminism was making huge strides before Gloria Steinem.

After she's crowned 'leader' by the media and takes up all the space, feminism is nothing but tiny steps.

And that's because of her.

See Veronica Geng's "Requiem for the women's movement," the November 1976 cover story of Harper's.  And for a take on 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.

Is she capable of being honest?

Is she still lying for her own means?

Who knows?

But she's been a lousy self-appointed leader.

As Ellen Willis once wrote of Gloria, "A reformer can never lead a revolution."

Which is probably why -- intentionally or not -- Gloria's circumvented the movement repeatedly.

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