PBS and AOL’s joint documentary-slash-video series on the history of the feminist movement, Makers, premiered Tuesday night, and of course, there are plenty of good, never-heard-before stories about how terrible it used to be to be a woman. In one of her interviews, Gloria Steinem discusses the worst article she ever wrote:
“When it came to assignments as a freelance writer, I was assigned things about fashion and food and make-up and babies. Or – the low-point in my life – textured stockings. When I delivered the articles to my editor at the Sunday Times magazine, he generally gave me a choice: either I could go to a hotel room with him in the afternoon, or mail his letters on the way out. Needless to say, I mailed the letters. But I just assumed I had to put up with this.”
Here’s the article she’s talking about, found by Hope Dellon and queried for by The New Yorker‘s Emily Nussbaum. In it, we learn first and foremost that “1964 is officially The Year of the Leg.” It’s an article that is perhaps the most thorough look at stockings ever written outside of a history book. Steinem may have hated writing about “colored lace, floral prints, elastic fishnet, plaid wool, knitted cables, Klee-like abstract prints, alpaca knee socks, thigh-high tweed, hand-painted jersey tights, camel’s hair spatterdashes, metallic threaded anklet’s and stretch-knight hose adorned with polka dots the size of rouge pots,” but she definitely made the topic compelling.
Steinem’s issues with the Times don’t end there; in another Makers video, she remarks upon how long it took the newspaper to start referring to women as “Ms.” and not “Mrs.”, even if they were single. When the paper finally switched, she and other feminist activists took flowers to the editor at the time, Abe Rosenthal. “He said the most infuriating single thing, which was, ‘Oh, if I’d known this mattered so much to you, I would have done it a long time ago,'” says Steinem, laughing a bit.
The best part of the whole thing might be Steinem’s bio for the piece, which reads much less like something you’d see in the Times and more like something you’d read on a modern day blog: