I was all set to write a post about feminist icon and former congresswoman Bella Abzug because a new biography of her just hit stores, but then I read Carolyn See's infuriating and weirdly name-droppy review of the book and realized I had to write about what a jerk See is instead. The first few paragraphs of See's critical essay start out innocently enough, summarizing Bella's early life. Then See makes an irrelevant comment about Abzug's weight ("she was chunky, and put on more weight as she got older") moving onto negative commentary about the feminist movement and abortion (including an assertion that she is "against abortion on principle" and really, who the fuck cares what you think about abortion right now? You're reviewing a fucking biography!). But it's after that paragraph that Carolyn See really takes a hairpin turn into crazytown.
[V]ery few people now actually remember what it was like during the period of the feminist movement. Everything was up for grabs. No one knew what to do or how to do it. Betty Friedan ruined a Super Bowl party in my very own home by wearing a black leather miniskirt and swinging her (not bad) legs clad in fishnet stockings back and forth in front of the TV screen so that nobody could see the plays. She radicalized a sizable bunch of neutral men into committed anti-feminists that day. Nobody knew what to do with these uppity, unpredictable women.
How dare Betty Friedan ruin the Super Bowl. Well, at least she had nice legs! See goes onto trash the equal rights amendment, criticize Gloria Steinem for getting married (then go out of her way to mention that Steinem is now a widow), and then illogically says "All those meetings, the huge international conferences, the tiny, exciting, consciousness-raising groups — it all simmered down. It's still a safe bet that at 80 percent of all the dinner parties in every state across the nation, women know enough to be good listeners."
After that, See goes back to Abzug, whom she knocks for having a "terrible, lippy mouth," which, she intimates, turned people off from the feminist movement. Because, if only women like Bella Abzug could have been quieter and let men watch football, we'd be running the world by now!
Woman's Work [Washington Post]