Women on the Front Lines

A couple of years back, I produced a video for the Ground Breaking Ceremony of the Family Violence Prevention Fund building in the Presidio in San Francisco.  I felt honored to interview Speaker Nancy Pelosi and host Nicole Kidman backstage and to meet so many commendable men and women dedicated to ending suffering and violence on a global scale.  I have a special affinity for the work of this organization (now called Futures Without Violence) as I come from a family of domestic abuse and was fortunate that my mother was able to escape her abuser (my father) when my brother and I were still at a fairly young age.


I was raised in the 1970s as the second wave of the feminist revolution was gaining momentum.  Efforts were being made to address domestic violence and gain equal rights, but miles of progress was yet to be had.  My mother and many single women trying to raise kids on their own faced discrimination, poor paychecks and sexual harassment in the workplace.  And so when one of the women who works at Futures Without Violence recently invited me to a special screening in New York of The Invisible War to be hosted by Gloria Steinem, famous leader on the front lines of the women’s liberation movement, I was thrilled.  I will admit to being nervous about going to see the movie.  The subject matter sounded so heavy and disturbing- the “epidemic of rape in the military.”  I am somewhat ashamed to admit to thinking, ‘I already know it’s awful, I don’t need to see it… but then again, when else will I have a chance to meet Gloria Steinem?’

Gloria Steinem  1970
“Gloria Steinem  1970  by noid2001, on Flickr”

I am a Past President of the San Francisco Chapter of American Women in Radio and Television and have done a fair amount of research about women’s history, but what flew out of my mouth when I met Gloria Steinem was, “I’m a really big fan.  Can I take my picture with you?”  Thankfully, she was gracious and sweetly obliged.  Do you know how you look at certain people and your gut just tells you that they’re a good person to the core?  That’s the feeling I had about this heroine.


“Gloria Steinem at “The Invisible War” Screening 2013″

My friend and I took a seat at the theater and who do I end up sitting next to?  Gloria.  When the film started, I was wondering if I would be bombarded with horrible images of women being battered or reenactments of rape.  I’m highly sensitive to violent images so I was greatly appreciative that the film was non-gratuitous.  I found the interviews from survivors (including a man) and their families to be honest, touching and pure.  Watching The Invisible War was an educational experience that also got me in touch with the anger I feel that we live in a society that continues to blame victims.  Given that women are now allowed on the front lines of combat in the military, it seems vital that we open this dialogue to as many people as possible.

Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes
“Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes by pollytipsy, on Flickr”

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