Newsweek magazine was one of the top news weekly magazines in the United States during the time of existing. In March 16, 1970 forty-six women filed a lawsuit against the magazine due to institutional sexism and gender, hiring and promotion discrimination. In the book The Good Girls Revolt, by Lynn Povich, the narrator is one of the former employees of the magazine who was an advocate of the claim against the magazine. The fearless, daring women show how sex discrimination degrades both men and women preventing a business from reaching its full potential.
The Newsweek structure was segregated into different gender positions where all of the writers, editors and reporters were men and women were fact checkers and researchers. The editor in chief, Osborn Elliott, also known as “Oz”, was the one in charge of the magazine. His reasoning for hiring in that way, he states, “stems from a newsmagazine tradition going back almost fifty years” pg15. This shows that the gender divide that existed was a tradition of the company which many of the women were against. Once they found out that it was illegal for one gender to have the same position in one company, they decided to revolt and gather more people to join their cause but they feared being leaked so they were concerned of who they associated with.
The women working at Newsweek magazine were educate white, middle class women which some of them wanted to become journalists, and realized they were never going to obtain their goals in this environment. Judy Gingold one of the women that started this revolt against Newsweek after speaking with a colleague explaining to her that gender segregation was against title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited employment discrimination based on sex, among other things and told her to call the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which had been set up in 1965. Then she proceeded by calling the EEOC department and explained the situation ans after listening to the story the women reply “Don’t be a naïve little girl. People who have power don’t like to give up that power…You have to organize and keep it secret and file a complaint. If you ask them about it, they will hire two token women and that will be the end of it” (pg.56). Judy started gathering women from the work place which they would meet sometimes in the ladies room or in their apartment. Having a job in Newsweek was an honor in the 60s because women were expected to get married and depend on a man.
. Eleanor Holmes Norton was the lawyer for he case. Her argument is that the controversial section of the act was title VII, which in its original form prohibited only racial discrimination in employment “ the provision protection women was added only at the last minute , as joke to scuttle the bill” pg 57. They created a press event where many famous people from different cities attended famous feminists of the time such a Betty Friedan who ended one of the rally by stating “we have learned that the enemy is us—our own lack of self-confidence” by motivating women to join the movement and fight for their rights and beliefs.
Women were discriminated, harassed and were looked down for just being a woman and this book explains a real life situation that changed the working environment for the rest of the world. Lynn Povich explains “We know that the enemy is not men. Man as a class is not the enemy. Man is the fellow victim of the kind of inequality between the sexes that is part of this country’s current torment and that is perpetrating violence all over the world” pg108 .What she refers to is that it’s not the man fault why the system is built this way, instead it’s society the way that it has been constructed.
Most of these women had the same or very similar qualification as men who held higher positions; this was a great point that was present in the lawsuit. Two years after the lawsuit several women had been trained, promoted and co-opted with titles. In many businesses there was a change in the work environment allowing them for different positions but on Newsweek there was little change. On May 16, 1972 they filed a second complaint against Newsweek and said it was “because sex discrimination at the magazine remains essentially unchanged” pg144. That was when the real change started happening in Newsweek magazine and many promotions were going on and available training on how to be a better at your desired position with many opportunities for advancement. These women challenged the system and changed the topic in the news media; women participation in the lawsuit changed their lives and others by showing their struggle in the work place. It made Newsweek magazine a better place to work and a better magazine.
Overall the book is a symbol to the struggle many women have faced in the work place, and represents women power and breaking out the stereotypical duties of a woman. Gloria Steinem expresses that “As compelling as any novel… Povich turn this epic revolt into a lesson on how and why we’ve just begun”. Even though there has been a dramatic change in society, this was a starting point in the different businesses for women to have the opportunity to achieve their goals. Women have the opportunity to go for jobs they choose and giving the possibility for business and large cooperation to grow with their contributions. The book is a great example that by working together and creating a sense of sisterhood, women could achieve great change. Even though not all the woman from Newsweek benefited in this lawsuit, these actions helped the next generation. Among women today, there is a lack of knowledge of the history which Lynn Povich shows in her book by telling her story and the struggle of the start of this revolt.
Povich, Lynn, The Good Girl Revolt. 2012, ISBN- 1610393260