Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Founding Editor of Ms. Magazine, Talks with "The Slant"
Accepting an award from the Jewish Women’s Archive earlier this year, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, a longtime activist, pointed to the Statue of Liberty, just visible in the foggy distance, and quipped, “I love her, even though she’s not Jewish.” Over murmurs of laughter, she spoke of her love for Lady Liberty’s “grace and beauty,” and defined what the monument represents to her: “welcome, freedom, hope.” The same could be said of Pogrebin herself.
With an unflappable belief in the possibility of a freer, fairer world, Pogrebin has spent the last 42 years of her life combating anti-Semitism, promoting peace in the Middle East and tirelessly fighting for women’s rights in the U.S. and abroad.
To date, she’s written ten books, including her forthcoming How To Be A Friend To A Friend Who’s Sick, which arrives in bookstores next April. She’s also penned numerous think pieces for The New York Times, The Nation, The Huffington Post and many others.
But mostly she’s known for founding Ms. magazine, alongside Gloria Steinem and four other brave feminists, in the early ‘70s — a time when mainstream magazines roundly ignored women’s issues. It’s often forgotten, but during the tumult of Vietnam, Watergate and free love, readers were hard-pressed to find stories about “rape, domestic violence, the economic value of housework, and pregnancy discrimination in the workplace,” Pogrebin remembers. Not only did the shared struggles that women faced go unreported, they lacked the basic nomenclature to define them.
To commemorate Pogrebin’s crowning achievement — the establishment of Ms. 40 years ago this year – The Slant reached out to the 73-year-old social justice seeker about the iconic pub’s anniversary and legacy, and how it has influenced contemporary coverage of women’s issues. She also gave us her slant on D.C.’s female brain-trust: Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Rodham Clinton.