September 9, 2017

"I really, really wish, that at the moment of her passing, the Washington Post had found a picture of Kate Millett without Gloria Steinem sharing the frame."

A comment on the Washington Post obituary "Kate Millett, ‘high priestess’ of second-wave feminism, dies at 82."

By the way, Gloria Steinem isn't merely "sharing the frame." She's in focus, speaking, looking engaged and emphatic, and Kate Millett is out of focus, leaning back, and has her eyes cast on Gloria Steinem. The caption says "Dr. Millett, left, listens as feminist activist Gloria Steinem speaks at a news conference in New York City in 1970." Millet listens....

The third paragraph reads:
Dr. Millett was a contemporary of Gloria Steinem’s — the Ms. Magazine co-founder was six months her senior — and along with Steinem became a driving force behind feminism’s “second wave” that transformed the movement in the 1960s and 1970s....
Way too much Steinem. Inappropriate. It's an obituary. Lavish attention on the person who died. And it's not even accurate to portray Millett as a sidekick to Gloria Steinem. So they were contemporaries in the same general field — arguably. Obituaries don't normally work like that, and there shouldn't be a different rule for feminists.

I wrote "arguably" in that last paragraph because Steinem worked on a magazine and Millett wrote a theoretical book. Millett's important book was a big sensation in 1970, and Ms. Magazine did not begin until 1971. There is zero reason to put Millett in the shadow of Steinem.

43 comments:

tim in vermont said...

Steinem was hot. No hiding it.

Laslo Spatula said...

Deploying Gloria Steinem photographs as feminist propaganda.

I am Laslo.

Sebastian said...

Zero reason?

Laslo Spatula said...

The sad secret is that modern feminists relate most to Gloria Steinem because they want to see themselves as one of the pretty ones.

No modern feminist wants to be told she looks like Betty Friedan.

Same as it ever was.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

"Millett wrote a theoretical book."

There is no book. There is only the theoretical idea of the book.

I am Laslo.

Amadeus 48 said...

My wife says Gloria Steinem is the mascot of the second-wave feminest movement. She's so adorable when she wags her tail and looks at you through those aviator glasses (which she has now abandoned).

She is the perpetual Ms. February of the women's movement--even at 83.

Meade said...

Seems to me a lot of 60 - 70 yr-old men are trying to look like Betty Friedan.

Robert Cook said...

Gloria Steinem began her career in the publishing business working as an assistant to Harvey Kurtzman, cartoonist and creator of Mad Comics, (later Mad Magazine), who was publishing HELP! at the time he hired Steinem. (That's Kurtzman with the binoculars.

Kurtzman also employed Terry Gilliam at HELP! Gilliam later was a founding member, of course, of Monty Python's Flying Circus, and then became a film director.) When Gilliam left HELP!, he was replaced briefly by Robert Crumb. (Briefly because HELP! failed shortly thereafter.)

traditionalguy said...

Millett learned that total honesty is a bad strategy. It intrigues folks for a season, but they want more than that. She deserves a monument.

Meade said...

Same soft bodies. Same hair. Same problem with no name.

Ann Althouse said...

"My wife says Gloria Steinem is the mascot of the second-wave feminest movement."

At the time, Steinem seemed like more of a lightweight popularizer. Even in the 80s, hardcore feminists sniffed at her. And I mean I was around hardcore feminists who audibly sniffed at the name. You'd be considered unsophisticated if you brought up the name Steinem in a serious discussion of feminism.

Laslo Spatula said...

From the Gloria Steinem Diaries...

I remember it so very clearly: Donovan was playing on the Hi-Fi the first time I ever sucked cock...

I knew there was something patriarchal about cock-sucking, but my thoughts had not fully coalesced at that point. No, I sucked cock like a Fifties Housewife, and afterward I spit into a paper napkin...

Now I realize what that cock was doing to my psyche: the representation of Masculinity was literally thrusting into my head. I was a mere receptacle of Male Dominance, and only now do I recognize the ejaculation as the seed of Feminine Oppression, and I did not like the taste...

I am Laslo.

Robert Cook said...

"You'd be considered unsophisticated if you brought up the name Steinem in a serious discussion of feminism."

No doubt she became the "face" of feminism because she is a pretty face.

tim in vermont said...

I love Crumb's serious portraits of women who don't peg the hot meter like Steinem. They are pretty sexy to me. Probably because they remind me of college girlfriends.

But Crumb's picture of a woman punching herself in the face should be "woman voting Democrat."

n.n said...

Generational or progressive female chauvinism.

tim in vermont said...

Funny how everybody listens to pretty women, but nobody listens to them.

Michael K said...

I'm trying so hard to care.

And failing.

Robert Cook said...

One who did not know, looking at the photo in Millet's obituary and how it is composed, would assume that Millet is the one speaking and wearing the chic aviator shades, (which I have always disliked).

Laslo Spatula said...

Steinem's Aviator Glasses were a conscious choice to invoke the image of a Fighter Pilot.

A Fighter Pilot for the Feminist Air Force.

Sassy.

I am Laslo.

Gahrie said...

Obituaries don't normally work like that, and there shouldn't be a different rule for feminists.

Do you have any evidence that this is a rule and not just a one time fuck up? Can you quote any other obits where they threw shade on a feminist in your opinion?

It's probably easier and more useful just to say "Patriarchy!"

Gahrie said...

No doubt she became the "face" of feminism because she is a pretty face.

Patriarchy!!

Sam L. said...

Forget it, Ann; it's WaPotown.

Big Mike said...

Kate Millet got her start earning a Ph. D. Steinem got her start writing about her time as a Playboy Bunny. Enough said.

David Begley said...

AA is absolutely right.

What is wrong with the writer and editors?

Birkel said...

Lavish praise for what?

tcrosse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tcrosse said...

Newspapers keep files of pre-written obits against the day they're needed. It's possible that their Steinem obit was lightly modified to serve for Millett; cut-and-paste, search-and-replace. Among media people, the media celebrity is the more important.

William said...

Two obvious facts: Steinem is the recognizable face of feminism and Steinem has a good looking face. Does this in some way subvert her feminism?.......Hemingway was a good looking man Do his good looks somehow subvert his value as a writer?......You read it here first. Good looks give you a leg up in the world.

Ann Althouse said...

"Lavish praise for what?"

I said lavish attention ... in the context of saying that an obituary should lavish attention on the person it's an obituary for... as opposed to some other person who was around at the same time working in approximately the same field... and not even the same field. If nothing's worth talking about, don't publish an obituary.

I remember having dinner with some law students the day Kurt Cobain died. He had just died, and they didn't know it yet. I told them the news, and one of them said Nirvana was important to the emergence of Pearl Jam. That's one of the most obtuse things I ever heard anyone say. Even if it were true that Pearl Jam was much more important that Nirvana, Kurt Cobain just died. Talk about Kurt Cobain or change the subject entirely.

William said...

Kate Millett, footnoted in her own obituary, will be remembered only by those who read her book when they were young and thought it said something important about life. That's not a lot of people.

Birkel said...

Mine was not in quotation marks.
What is there to praise?

William nailed it.
Like a playboy bunny.

Birkel said...

As a bicycle, I do wonder at the fish.
But I wouldn't lavish anything on that fish.

YoungHegelian said...

But the attention also proved burdensome for Dr. Millett. In 1970, while married to a Japanese sculptor, she was speaking at Columbia when an audience member demanded to know if Dr. Millett was a lesbian.

“Five hundred people looking at me,” Dr. Millett later wrote. “Everything pauses, faces look up in terrible silence. I hear them not breathe. That word in public, the word I waited half a lifetime to hear. Finally I am accused. ‘Say it. Say you are a Lesbian.’


When the personal is political every aspect of your life has to follow the party line. Every public moment becomes a possible Maoist self-criticism session, where one has to swear public fealty to the party line. Feminism's erasure of the public/private distinction did much to bring us to the social horror we live in now.

History would have turned out so much better if another member of the audience had emptied a full clip from a .45 into the woman who asked that impertinent question. There are some lines that should not be crossed.

Laslo Spatula said...

My point at 9:10 was:

Most feminists are women that had bad blow-job experiences in their formative years.

The rest have Daddy Issues.

There is, obviously, overlap.

I am Laslo.

Jupiter said...

tim in vermont said...
"Steinem was hot. No hiding it."

And Millett was not. I'll bet she hated Steinem's guts. Sisterhood is powerful.

Sebastian said...

"You'd be considered unsophisticated if you brought up the name Steinem in a serious discussion of feminism." Now that's a funny line.

urpower said...

I thought Germaine Greer was the "high priestess"? Millett aced Germaine out of the picture. At the time I think Millett was the dumpy lesbian that Greer had to save the (media) world from.

tim in vermont said...

I looked at the picture and she was certainly pretty enough, but next to the other one, it's kind of hard to shine. GloStick is like a female Brad Pitt.

Mac McConnell said...

Kate Millet was fantasizing about how Gloria Steinem's ass might taste.

tim in vermont said...

Gloria Steinem as the face of feminism is just more proof that feminism was invented by remarkably prescient horny teenage boys.

Paco Wové said...

the woman who asked [if Dr. Millett was a lesbian]

I'm sure the patriarchy made her do it. Or maybe white supremacy; it's difficult to know which is more nefarious on any given day.

Anonymous said...

Don't you think this had something to do with it? With their reticence to publish the obit and inability to find an appropriate picture?
http://www.truthrevolt.org/commentary/millett-no-gun-ever-killed-anyone

JAORE said...

No doubt she became the "face" of feminism because she is a pretty face.

That explains why Betty Friedan's article* about her time as a Playboy Bunny didn't take off.




*It was a VERY short story.