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Gloria Steinem and the feminist movement

DOCUMENTARY"Gloria Steinem: In Her Own Words"

WHEN | WHERE Monday night at 9 on HBO

REASON TO WATCH The dynamic life of one 77-year-old icon illuminates the women's liberation movement.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Gloria Steinem was covering "food and fashion" for 1960s magazines when she went undercover as a Bunny waitress at New York's new Playboy Club. While "blowing the whistle on the glamour of the place," she learned she wasn't alone in feeling pigeonholed in work and by society. By the late '60s, she was covering women's issues at abortion hearings and equality marches, but her inability to sell those stories stirred Steinem to speak out as part of the movement.

Her own voice tells the tale, through narration, new interviews and vintage footage (ABC, BBC, Phil Donahue, Arsenio Hall). She recalls how women were first ridiculed, then openly opposed, for demanding fair wages and treatment. While other icons appear -- New York congresswoman Bella Abzug, black activist Flo Kennedy, author Betty Friedan -- Steinem is here, as then, feminism's main public face. At the time, her looks were the focus (she's pretty enough to get a man!). Now it's her entire life, from her depressed mother to her own struggles with self-esteem and marriage at age 66.

MY SAY This evocative hour doesn't lionize Steinem, but simply lays out what happened. Its subject admits her mistakes, while stressing the message of broader possibilities: "We are becoming the men we wanted to marry." Note the present tense. Steinem's advice for young women? "Do not listen to my advice. Listen to the voice inside you and follow that."

BOTTOM LINE First-person history



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