Sunday, March 05, 2006

Memorial for Betty Friedan

I've been viewing a group post about organizers who are working on a memorial for the late Betty Friedan, and after much thought, and helpful advice from Diane Welsh, I added my hopes and dreams for this event, which I will post here, for posterity.

This is an amazing opportunity to make a difference and to give people who normally tune out this kind of thing to tune in and listen. We need to be inclusive and use this opportunity to dispel myths about feminism and how it impacts everybody's lives. What I hope is that millions of people will have an "ah ha" moment somewhere in the programme and learn something they didn't know before. What I hope is that this event is not about talking to ourselves, preaching to the converted, but reaching out to others who may have never paid attention before.

It sounds as though there is agreement that it shouldn't be a march, but a gathering that does not lose focus that it is a remembrance that highlights some of the results of Betty's activism. And that it should be on Aug 26, which is an historical day bringing good vibes. It should be in NY since that is where Betty is from and there are a lot of connections there that make sense.

I don't see any ideas about specific venues? I would hope to see something other than a bunch of people setting up tables to sell stuff around a podium where there are speeches by people who each have their own agenda.

As for "themes", this is a good time to reflect on the history of the women's movement, and the agenda should be carefully prepared so that major milestones are recognized in the context of Betty's remembrance, with speakers who are asked to speak on a very specific topic. Or readings from pre-chosen text that highlights the historical points. There ought to be plenty to choose from what Betty has written, and also what other people might have written about her, to make a very compelling programme that is both interesting and relevant to the topic at hand.

Text and speeches and entertainment should be chosen that sends chills up your spine and will provoke action. The speakers should be every living powerful woman this group can cough up - from politics to industry to social reform. The speakers must be great speakers, not just important people.

Interspersed with the speaking could be entertainment and video reflections specially made for this day that explores the changes in the world in the past 40 or so years -- how did Betty change the world - let's see it visually. We have on film moments in time that changed the world, let's see them, speeches that changed the way the general public thinks, let's hear them.

The finale can be about "where we are going", next steps, actions that individuals can make, mobilization, how one woman can make a difference etc.

The host should be someone who draws a crowd. Maybe Barbara Walters or someone from the mainstream media who can attract attention from the normal people who need to be paying attention but otherwise generally aren't. We need to reach beyond ourselves and use this opportunity to hit a homerun with the entire nation. We need a little glitz and sparkle, be serious but not pedantic. There should be seriousness tamed by lighthearted tales for balance. We should be careful not to preach.

What I see is a program that can be made into a DVD and sold and repeated on PBS and used in schools, so it has to be entertaining, interesting, heartwarming, alarming, proud, scary and powerful. It should inspire a big Hollywood hoo hah to make a movie about it. Publishers should be timing
reprints rolled out in major bookstores and on the front page of amazon of all of Betty's writings in conjunction with the event.

I look forward to hearing about how this is moving forward. Take it away....


dhskee said...

Did you ever get any coherent responses to this???

mingum said...

I got a lot of praise from people about my ideas, and asking if I wanted to become more involved with VFA. All positive.