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In case you missed Tuesday night's three-hour program (MAKERS: Women Who Make America), I strongly urge you to check local listings for when the program will be re-aired on your PBS station.
Narrated by Meryl Streep, the show outlines the progress that women in America have made since the 1950s. Starting with the publication of Betty Friedan's book The Feminine Mystique (which hit book stores 50 years ago this month), MAKERS does an excellent job of visually reminding us of the gender roles that dominated this country for so long.
Warm first-person interviews with high achieving women like Judy Blume, Oprah, Sandra Day O'Connor, Gloria Steinen and Hillary Clinton let the viewer feel like she is having a lively conversation with someone who has (happily) conquered old stereotypes and discrimination.
There is great newsreel footage of the first woman (a 20 year old college student named Katherine Switzer) to run in the Boston Marathon. Even though she finished the race the AAU didn't formally accept female participation in marathons until 1971.
Many women of my era remember all too well the days when females were considered "strange" if they wanted more out of life than domestic concerns. This program should be required viewing for any woman under the age of 40--the generation of females who "can't imagine" a world without economic independence or strong female role models.
We all need to "remember" that when Oprah started her TV career in Baltimore, she was paid $22,000 a year while her male co-host was paid $50,000. And I particularly liked the late Nora Ephron's statement that--for many women--their first brush with feminism arrived with their first divorce.
To learn more about this amazing program, which took eight years to make, visit the show's website www.makers.com .