Saturday, September 16, 2006

Gloria Steinem's Living Room Floor

Last Tuesday night, I met Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda and some of the most powerful female voices in America at the launch party for Greenstone Media. Carpe, Black Sheepish and I strode down the green carpet ready to get inside and pump our fists whilst shouting feminist slogans into the air. But once inside we air kissed, gossiped, giggled and shoe shopped vicariously through our new blogger girlfriends. I left, wrapped up in the soft warm bond of female community.

Soft and warm was the theme of the night, from the little green quiches served on silver platters by smiling waitstaff to the message of light and fun programming designed to bring back slowly dwindling female audiences to radio. Soft and warm is also how I felt when Gloria Steinem stood up to speak to the cast of famous women assembled in the room and tell a story about Jane Fonda.

Gloria tells the room that Jane is her friend. She tells us that Greenstone Media was born from a few nights of female fellowship enjoyed while sitting on her living room floor. I imagined navajo blankets, overstuffed pillows, framed photos of Christian Bale, and half empty cartons of Indian take-out. Gloria looked over her shoulder at Jane and told the audience that even though at 73, she is much older than her friend Jane Fonda, Jane’s wisdom and strength make Gloria feel like she has finally found a big sister.

This story and Jane’s teary eyes warmed my heart like I’d just eaten Szechwan Chicken and forgot to tell the waiter to hold the chili’s. I expected to be wowed by the presence of these two legendary women, but mostly I was moved by their extreme normalcy.

When Gloria finished speaking, Jane brought her a over a glass of green champagne and said something in Gloria’s ear that made them both start giggling like school girls. I mean school women. I mean women. And that was the real story on Tuesday night. It was women supporting women. It was laughter. It was friends. It was women acting like women.

You see, I have long assumed that when I want to be taken seriously in the world, it is best to display as few stereotypical feminine characteristics as possible. Wear a suit, display no emotion, be ruthless, and act as much like a man as possible. Therefore, I was surprised to see this collection of powerful women wearing party dresses and tight jeans, giggling over cocktails, talking about babies and husbands and rallying behind the cry for non-hostile radio programming. These women were embracing pink, wearing heels and exchanging emotional banter. They represented all I love about being a woman. They were living examples that you can cry during a movie, giggle with girlfriends on their living room floors and still ask for equality in the workplace. You can be a feminist and not have to sacrifice your femininity.

In that room, surrounded by those women, I felt like I belonged to something much bigger than me. I felt like part of a community. A community of women, all trying to make a difference. All trying to create a world, that could be a little softer and a little warmer.

See party pics here.
Read other bloggers perspectives here, here, here, and here.
A heated blog debate spurred by the event can be found here.

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