Sisterhood Blog

Keeping Feminism Off the Style Pages

By Elissa Strauss

  • Print
  • Share Share

Sarah Hepola, in a recent — and ill-headlined — New York Times article explored whether feminists have and/or need a another leader like Gloria Steinem. Hepola writes that nobody has emerged to take Steinem’s place as feminist team captain, and she arrives at the conclusion that feminism has been replaced by feminisms — that feminism is now a diverse movement with diverse leadership. The Times titled the piece “Gloria Steinem, a Woman Like No Other,” but a much more indicative headline would have been something along the lines of “Does Feminism Need Gloria?”

I agree that the fact that no leader has emerged is, in many ways, a good thing — a result of a much more collective, and inclusive, approach to the women’s movement. The concept of liberation has become murkier ever since feminists fought against discriminatory laws — and won. With no central feminist agenda, we lack the need for a central spokeswoman, Hepola writes.

I like this read, but I worry it is a little too idealistic. A more depressing explanation as to why the era of name-brand feminists has passed can be found in the placement of the story.

The New York Times thought this piece belonged in the Style section, right above a story about a hotel in Manhattan that has a sleep concierge, who totes around a menu of 12 different sleep-friendly pillows, and only a page away from coverage of nail polish trends. Because nothing shows more respect for this thoughtful look into the women’s movement today than putting it alongside the fashion and style coverage.

Maybe we don’t need a Steinem. Maybe we are doing just fine with our many Steinems. Still, wouldn’t it be nice to think that feminism would have a strong enough public presence that our leader or leaders would be familiar to a more mainstream audience? That, as a movement, we wouldn’t be placed in the style section, or even relegated to arts pages — that we would instead would make headlines in the news and opinion sections?

There is no question that the low numbers of female contributors to thought-leading magazines, as recently chronicled by Vida’s count, is linked to the fact that women’s issues are still niche topics and feminism is still somehow seen as dying or divisive. Let’s get feminism out of the style section, and then see if, once again, a feminist leader arises — one whose name my father would recognize.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: The New York Times, Gloria Steinem, Feminism

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.