The feminist photos and posts and slogans on the Facebook page of Maggie Grey (not her real name) make me angry.
Not because I’m a right-winger. I’m a feminist myself. I came of age in the ’60s, marched against the Vietnam War, was an early supporter of LGBT rights, and subscribed to Ms. Magazine the moment it came out.
In my 30s, because I edited and published the ground-breaking “Women’s Glib” series of humor books (now out of print) and lectured widely as an expert on the topic of feminist humor, I even made it into Gloria Steinem’s Rolodex.
I am now and have always been a left-leaning, tree-hugging, feminist, progressive, which means that I’ve got a lot of the same feminist photos and posts on my own Facebook page as Maggie.
No, what pisses me off is that for the past 10 years, Maggie the feminist was my boyfriend’s secret girlfriend.
I recently discovered that the man that I’d loved and trusted for 20 years had a secret girlfriend on the side when he slipped up and left this Facebook message to her on my computer: “I love you and I’ve always loved you.”
When I confronted Mike (not his real name), he tried to lie his away out of it. But even as adept and practiced a liar as he apparently was, it couldn’t explain away “I love you and I’ve always loved you.” When he finally came clean about the affair, I told him that I never wanted to see him again, and sent him away in a cab.
Then I sent Maggie my own little Facebook message. “Hi Maggie!” I wrote. “Apparently you’re Mike’s other girlfriend. Who knew?”
Panicked, she instantly blocked me on Facebook. But not before I’d taken a good look at her Facebook page. I hadn’t even known she existed before learning that Mike was in love with her and I wanted to know who this woman was.
So, judging from her Facebook page, who exactly is this woman?
She’s a decade younger than I am. She’s married. And — she seems like a terrific person! We share the same politics. We’re both compassionate and progressive. Like me, she voted for Hillary Clinton, despises Donald Trump, and marched for women’s rights last January. We also share a sense of humor. I would have laughed at the funny photos and videos on her page, if, at the time, I hadn’t wanted to throttle her.
Did Maggie know about me? You bet she did! Mike kept me in the dark about her, but she knew all about me. Over the years she probably took more than one look at my own Facebook page. Did she read the many essays I posted there about how much I loved Mike?
I’ll never know for sure. But I’m guessing that she did.
So for over a decade, Maggie, my fellow feminist, knew exactly whose trust Mike was betraying with their affair.
One thing she recently posted on her Facebook page is an image of a women’s power symbol, a Venus sign (♀) with a clenched fist inside.
“What does it mean?” one of her friends asked.
“It is one of the symbols from the feminist movement of the 1960s-70s,” Maggie responded. “I remember it best from the cover of my copy of ‘Sisterhood is Powerful,’ the first anthology of feminist writings I ever read. I posted it here to honor the women of that time who made my life possible, and to draw inspiration from their legacy in the days to come.”
Well that is lovely. But as far as this particular 1970s-era feminist is concerned, I would have been a lot happier if you’d honored me by keeping your hands off my boyfriend.
So here’s the question. What, if anything, do feminist women owe to each other? Can you be a good feminist and carry on a decade-long affair with another feminist’s boyfriend?
Or do you lose your feminist cred and have your Official Feminist Card revoked?
Gloria Steinem isn’t currently in my own Rolodex, or I’d phone her and ask her.
I was betrayed by Mike. But, looking at Maggie’s Facebook page, with all of its inspiring posts about empowering girls and supporting other women, I feel betrayed by her too.
Sisterhood is powerful. But in this case? It wasn’t quite powerful enough.