By Suzanne Braun Levine
Robin Morgan came into my life way before I met her. I must have been around nine, about the same age as Dagmar the youngest daughter on my favorite tv show, “I Remember Mama” about a Scandinavian immigrant family who lived on (I still remember the name) Steiner Street in San Francisco. They had lots of problems – and solved them all. Robin, I later found out, played Dagmar and was the most famous child star in America.
Flash forward to 1968 and my awakening to the Women’s Movement. There was a protest at the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City at which, contrary to myth, nothing was burned. One photograph symbolized the daring of that action – a woman in a striped shirt defiantly waving what was, in fact, the legendary bra. The message of that iconic photograph was that sisterhood could be powerful. That woman, I later found out, was Robin. Her ground-braking anthology “Sisterhood is Powerful” became a feminist classic.
Child star. Political activist and thought-leader. And that’s not all. She is a poet, novelist, journalist and organizer as well as a brilliant editor, which is how I finally met her in person. I had been the editor of Ms. magazine for a few years when she joined the staff. Her reputation preceded her, and I was wary. But soon she proved to all of us that while the personal is political – as the slogan went – the political was also personal. She was soon a member in good standing of the Thank God It’s Monday Club, formed by those of us who were relieved to get back to work, which seemed sane compared to the chaos of family life on the weekends.
We have been friends ever since. I quickly learned that Robin is very funny, and, over the years, that she is also a great cook and gardener. We are exactly the same age, but I had never met anyone who had accumulated so many diverse roles in the same number of years. We are a fixture in each other’s lives. Once a month since 1989, she and I are part of a group of four who have dinner together. We laugh and talk politics, order six appetizers and monopolize the table for three hours. And then ask for the check to be split four ways. As you can imagine, restaurants barely tolerate us. Which is why we keep moving around.
I once described Robin as “fierce” and she wasn’t sure she liked that. She probably thought it sounded too tough and bellicose. But her fierceness – as in fearless, passionate, committed, undaunted even when she’d rather be somewhere else –- is what I admire about her. I am sure everyone who comes to the Milford Theater on September 16, where she will share her thoughts about politics, racism and evolving feminism with Farai Chidaya, another fierce (and very funny) woman, will understand what I mean.