An Interview with Mavra Stark2018-08-13T15:25:47+00:00

THE VFA PIONEER HISTORIES PROJECT

Mavra Stark

“I Really Did Quite a Bit for the Cause of Feminism”

Interviewed by Kathy Rand, June 2018

MS: My name is Mavra Stark – right now. If you want me to give you my other names, I’ll give them to you.

KR: Sure go ahead.

MS: My birth name is Steinberg. My married name was DeRise. The Stark was a name I chose after my first and second grade teacher.

KR: Oh very nice.  Tell me a little bit about what your life was like before you got involved in the women’s movement. How did you grow up and what was your life like?

MS: I grew up partially in Brooklyn and partially in Miami Beach. My family were orthodox Jewish and that’s how I grew up. My parents were both immigrants as teenagers. My father was a small business owner. My mother had various jobs. She was usually somebody’s right hand person.

I Was Expected To Go To College

KR: What year were you born?

MS: 1942. I have two children but I guess you don’t want to know about that just now. My educational background was very mixed. What was going on – is my parents didn’t get along so my mother would take my sister and me to Miami Beach because in Florida you could get a divorce easier – New York was extremely difficult.

So I spent some years – all through my education I’d go to school in Brooklyn, and go to school in Miami Beach – back and forth. And my senior year I spent in Brooklyn. I went to Brooklyn College and then I went to NYU but just for one term. And I went to Hunter when there were no men. And on my very last term there, they had a few men mixed in, and that was very interesting.

I graduated from Hunter in 1966; majored in speech and theater and minored in education. I began a Masters in theater at Brooklyn College and I took all my courses. I didn’t write the thesis because – number one my thesis advisor was making advances, which was very difficult. And also I was very involved in a daycare center that I had founded at that time.

So eventually the masters degree didn’t mean that much to me. I have two professional designations, which came because of my employment with a large insurance company. One was a Chartered Life Underwriter, which I earned in 1982, and then a Chartered Financial Consultant, which I got in 1983.

How Did You Get Involved In The Women’s Movement?

I was jealous of my husband because he would go out every day and he had a very exciting job. And he apparently enjoyed it very much. I had more education than he did. He barely squeaked through high school. So I was jealous. And then one day I was vacuuming and I had the TV on to a talk show and a woman came on by the name of Robin Morgan. And I’m sure you know of Robin Morgan.

KR: Yes, of course. And this was about what year?

MS: This was in the late 60s – probably around 68 – 67 – 68. Anyway she was on a show – The Mike Douglas Show. And she was wearing a pantsuit, which women didn’t wear at that time and her hair was cut very short. And she was speaking about women’s rights. And he was really egging her on and the audience was laughing. So I stopped the vacuum cleaner and I stood there. And I’ve never been the same since.

Then there was one other reason. I was taking courses for my masters at Brooklyn College and my mother – my husband didn’t believe in higher education for women – my mother was paying for the courses and then she lost her job. So I asked my husband for the money for my courses and he refused. So at that point I went to the financial aid office and I said I’ve got good grades and I need help.

And they said no you don’t have to prove anything with your grades. You just have to prove that you’re in need. So I said well I am. So I was told – bring in your husband’s W-2 form. Well – you know he did very well – let’s put it that way. And I didn’t bring it in because there was no use. But at that point I contacted the ACLU and they were willing to take the case. They just needed an affidavit from my husband stating that he wouldn’t pay. So he took the cash and he threw it on the floor next to me. And that was the end of it.

So I got the money but it just incensed me – that I had no legal right to his income. And I didn’t have any income of my own. I had a child – she was a tot at the time, a child with disabilities. I had to take her to various therapies during the day and I just couldn’t get a job.

Almost A New York Radical Feminist 

So anyway that’s when I went to the women’s center in Manhattan. I’d heard about that – I think from the Village Voice. And I went there and I’m not exactly sure what it was – I think it was – I’m not sure it was just a women’s center. It was a walk up – I think, or maybe it was an old ratty elevator. I don’t know. But things were going on there – a lot of things.

People were talking – there were all women. People were talking excitedly about this and excitedly about that. And there were actions going on and this and that. I took karate there from a 15 year old who was wonderful. It was just a wonderful exciting place. And that’s where I found out about the New York Radical Feminists. And I thought – that’s for me.

So, of course – I didn’t drive and their meetings were in another borough. I think the Bronx – it had to be the Bronx or Queens. And it was at night. And I didn’t know how to drive. So I asked my husband to take me. And he did. And I loved – I loved the meeting, I loved the women there. I was all excited.

And when I came out and he took me home he said he wasn’t going to take me again. So that was the end. It’s funny – looking back – I would have been a New York Radical Feminist except that my husband wouldn’t take me to the meetings. And then there was the big march on August 27 1970 down 5th Avenue.

KR: Right, August 26th.

MS: I think it was the 27th – might have been the 26th – but my picture was on the cover of The New York Daily News. So that was obviously published on the 27th about the March on the 26th. I went early – way before the march.  First I got an armload of flyers from the Women’s Center and I took them to a subway station in my neighborhood. And I stood there and I handed out flyers to women only.

KR: All by yourself?

MS: Yes. And this was publicity for the march. And then I went with a group of women to the Statue of Liberty. And they had a plan – and the plan was – some of us would distract the guards there or whatever you call them and the others would go into the statue and go up and hang out their sign. I forget exactly – I’m pretty sure it said Women of the World Unite. That’s what it was. So I was in the group that was picketing. We picketed with signs et cetera. And that was all for – helicopters came and that was publicity for the march too.

KR:  And that was with NOW right?

MS: I don’t know. I was not involved with a particular organization at the time. I tried to get involved with the New York Feminists. If I had heard about NOW, and I probably did, it seemed too tame for me at the time. Of course I have a long history with NOW but this was before that. So I went in the morning of the march with Betty Friedan and a few other women.

We went to the marriage bureau and staged a little demonstration there. And then we went to the Social Security office. And I remember Betty talking about the fact that Social Security wasn’t fair to women. I don’t know that women at that time were entitled to half the men’s Social Security. And that might have been why we were demonstrating but I’m not sure. And I had made a sign that I carried in the march.

Women, Don’t Cook Dinner – Starve a Rat Tonight

And that was based on a big publicity that New York was having about rats. Do you remember that?

KR: I remember hearing about it. I remember seeing the sign.

MS: It was close your garbage cans tightly – starve a rat tonight. And so that’s what it was based on and it got a lot of publicity – that sign. And even now once in a great while I see that sign coming up in various places – mainly as a joke. So that was that.

And I joined NOW in 1985 I think.  But I know it was at the time when Bork was being Judge – he wasn’t a Judge – I don’t know what he was – probably a Judge, because he was being considered for the Supreme Court. And of course feminists were very much against that. So I was walking in my area and I see this group of women on the main street – they’re picketing. And they’re picketing about Bork. Something in me said – you’ve got to get back to these feminists. And so I joined the picket and I joined NOW. And I became the Treasurer in short order.

KR: Treasure of New York City NOW?

Morris County NOW

MS: No, I was living in New Jersey and it was Morris County. It was Morris County NOW. And I became president. I was president from that time until – [??] I wasn’t president constantly. It was four years at a time because our bylaws said that you could be president – the term was two years and you could only be president twice in a row. So I’d do four years and then somebody else will do two years or four years and then I’d do four years again. And it went on like that.

KR: Were you between 1970 – that march – and 1985 were you involved as an activist at all or not really?

MS: No I wasn’t. I was doing what I thought would help feminism and that is – I was working at a very large corporation in a line position and there were hardly any women doing that. And one of the things that I thought when I did that was that – I am one of the pioneers at corporations in a line position. There were lots of women in staff positions but not line positions. So that’s what I was doing before I finally joined NOW.

We were a very active chapter and still are. I left when I moved to Pittsburgh in 2007.

Pledge-A-Picket

We did some wonderful things and I think probably what I’m most proud of is we did a pledge-a-picket. At that time – the right to life or whatever they call themselves – I think it was right to life – the locals – would picket not only in front of the doctor’s offices but also in front of their homes. They’d take pictures of the children. It was really horrible horrible stuff.

And we did form, with several other organizations – we got trained and we picketed about a block away from where they were picketing. We couldn’t get too close and it was a counter picket. But then – this was my idea – and I’m very proud of it – we did what we called the pledge-a-picket.

We went to the Unitarian Church in the area – it was called the Unitarian Fellowship and we talked about this. We asked people to pledge a set amount of money for each picketer that we counted when they would picket. And we would know about it. And so we would go there – we had a mole actually. And so we knew when and where they were going to picket.

And I had beautiful cards made up, they were embossed they were very nice and they said – let me think of actually what they said – Thank you for coming to picket today. Your participation in this action is helping poor women – needy women obtain abortions. And that was what the money was for. And we did that for many weeks until I guess the pledgers got tired of shelling out the money. And I guess we got tired too.

But anyway we collected around ten thousand dollars that we gave to the local Planned Parenthood. And it was specified that it was only going to go for poor women who didn’t have the money for abortions. And I think at that time there was the Hyde Amendment, which prevented – so you know. Anyway so that was one thing. And we did a whole bunch of other things. There’s a fathers rights group – horrible people. I don’t know if you know anything about the father’s rights movement.

KR: Yes I do.

MS: You do, good. We went – they were demonstrating. We found out they were going to demonstrate in Trenton, the state capital. So we went and we counter demonstrated. And there was a great deal of yelling and screaming. They were really nasty people. So that’s one thing we did.

Betty Friedan Was A Hero To Me 

We also went to all the big marches in Washington. And the last one I went to – I’m pretty sure – I was in charge of getting the logistics settled for VFA. In other words I would speak to women who didn’t live near Washington and arrange for their transportation and where they were going to stay in Washington. And most of us – not most of us – I don’t know how many of us – but a whole bunch of us didn’t march – we rode a bus.

And I was very proud that I sat right behind Betty Friedan on this bus. And I was kind of furious because – I was very angry because Betty Friedan was a hero to me. And there was some kind of split at some point between Betty Friedan and NOW. I’m pretty sure it had to do with the fact that she didn’t think that NOW should get involved with lesbian rights.

And so she was kind of – no one would deal with her anymore I think. Or nobody in NOW or the leadership in NOW would condescend to her. And I thought – and I spoke to people at National NOW about this several times. She was going to be at the march – at least have her stand up and be recognized. And they refused. They refused. So I was kind of upset about that. But anyway that was that. We went a number of times to our congressional representatives office and demonstrated about one thing the other. There was always something.

KR:  Was there a particular issue that you were concerned about or pretty much just broadly about women’s rights?

Always Fighting For Women’s Rights

MS: Yes about women’s rights. If I sat and thought about it I’d probably remember. But I don’t remember as of now. But we went several times and he spoke to us. I think once or twice. Then there was the issue of the girl’s softball teams. I forget the exact community in New Jersey but it was in northern New Jersey some place, which was where Morris County was. And they had four courts  – not courts  – I forget – diamonds for the boys to play baseball.

And they were planning another 11 diamonds – all for the boys. The girls had a softball team and they complained and we joined them and we went to town meetings. And we wrote letters and you know I think we already had Title IX at that time. So this was not to be accepted. Eventually we won and the girls got four of the new [diamonds] and the rest were for the boys but at least the girls had something.

We also spoke at the girl scouts at least once or twice a year they would invite us to talk about something that had to do with women’s rights.

We were instrumental in getting a women’s – a battered women’s shelter. Now they call it the battered women’s service. But anyway originally it was a shelter and we were very important in establishing that. We also did consciousness raising. It was the 1990s and I don’t know that there was any consciousness-raising going on by then.

So we had to redo all the questions because many of them were no longer relevant. So we created our own questions and there were a dozen of us and we met for a very long time. I think it was three years and most of us are still close. Even though they’re in New Jersey and I’m in Pittsburgh, we speak all the time.

I joined the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights representing Reformed Judaism. I was very active in that. I joined New Jersey Right To Choose, which eventually became New Jersey Right to Choose NARAL. And I was a vice president. And what I did was I went to high schools all over New Jersey. New Jersey is small so you could actually get to all areas. That wasn’t too hard.

And what they would do was they would have someone from right to life come in first and speak to the health classes and then I would come in the next day and speak about – you know from our point of view. And I spoke to a couple of Junior colleges you know county colleges and also a couple of college – colleges. Anyway so that’s what I did for right to choose.

Always Tried To Be Effective

I was instrumental in creating a task force on the national level because I created it on the local level. And they – NOW was very much interested in it. This was a task force on mother’s economic issues, which I felt so strongly about because I was a mother. And I knew – we had a woman who wrote a book about it who did an interview for our TV show.

I wrote a lot of letters to the editor mainly on the abortion issue. And there would be people from right to life who would write stinging complaints about my letters in their letters and then I’d write – so it was kind of a back and forth thing. And the people at the paper were always thrilled to publish them because they would usually create some kind of – people would buy more papers. That was the local paper.

And we would table at a few different events. We tabled at a county fair every year. We’d table at all kinds of festivals and fairs and gatherings and we were very effective.

We raised money and we also got some new members. There was a Catholic hospital. It was not a Catholic hospital. And then it became a Catholic hospital and they refused to even discuss abortion – it couldn’t be discussed. And so it was no longer serving the community which was a low-income community and that’s where you had a lot of abortion issues and they refused. So we complained to the state – didn’t do any good – and we had several TV shows about it. And it didn’t do any good, but we tried.

Then we had an essay contest, an annual essay contest. And there were actually two contests – one for junior high students and one for high school students. And it was always on a topic related to women’s rights and we’d get a lot of entries. And then we would choose the best two and they were invited to a meeting with their parents. And it was very nice. They got their essays published in the paper and they got the little awards. And so that was, I thought, a very good thing.

We went to the National NOW conference every year. There had been – we had a women’s festival every year at the local Unitarian Fellowship. And a lot of women would come and this time our guest speaker was Florynce Kennedy. I hope you remember her.

KR: Oh of course, yes.

Florynce Kennedy’s Influence

MS: Yes. She was wonderful. And she spoke. You know you could already tell that she wasn’t completely there. But one of the things she said that really got to me is, she said – don’t let other people define you – you define yourselves. And then she said something about – you go on television. And that lit up a bulb in my head and I said that’s what we’ve got to do. So we went to the local TV station and we made a fuss and they said OK. And we were trained.

This was at the beginning of 1994. So we had training there for a large group of our membership. And in August of 1994 we began our show. And it was a show on what they call – they don’t call public television – Community Access. And we did a television show and I think the first show was about girls being bullied and sexually abused in high schools. So we did that. That was our first show and we had experts come.

I was the producer and the host – I’m very proud of this and I got really good guests. We had one woman who came from Boston expressly to do the show. She had written a book on abortion and we paid for her fare. We did a lot of good things and they’re still doing it. Because I left in 2007 and at that point until now they’re actually still operating. Two women now are doing what I did by myself and so I’m very proud of that.

We are now seen in most of New Jersey and we cover Philadelphia on four different Philadelphia stations. Sometimes chapters out of state would ask us to send them a show to put on and we did. So our show was seen in various places and various times. And we were the only NOW chapter that had a TV show. So I was really really proud of that.

The Allies of the Redstockings

In the 90s toward the late 90s I joined a wonderful group. They originally had been the Redstockings of the women’s liberation movement and then they had Redstockings of the women’s liberation movement and allies. And the allies were those of us who weren’t with them in the early years. So I was very much involved with the Redstockings and allies. No it wasn’t in the 90s – I think it was in the early 2000s.

I remember I was a main speaker at a seminar they gave that was very well attended and it was about Universal Healthcare because at that time that was their main issue – Universal Healthcare. Because it was so important to women. It was just critical. So that was that. And then I moved in 2007 and I had to leave the organization. I was very sad because I love those women.

The Equal Rights Amendment

And I was involved starting in the 90s – with the ERA. I had not been involved earlier because it just didn’t sink into my consciousness I guess at that time. And towards the very end – I think it was 1982 – 1983, I did go to a couple of ERA demonstrations in Washington. But that was it. Then later in the 90s I did get involved with a few women who were working – New Jersey women. Mostly aged women, which I wasn’t quite yet. But they were all working for the Equal Rights Amendment.

Their theory was they couldn’t be limited by – there shouldn’t be any time limits. And we proved that because there was – Madison – you know one of the early forefathers had started an amendment and it was finally ratified in the 90s. So we thought we need three more states. So we went – we lobbied Congress – we had a meeting with our Senator – one of our senators. And they were going to really do a lot. But he said he didn’t want to step on Ted Kennedy’s toes and he should be offered it first. We never heard from anyone again. So that was going on.

KR: And it’s still going on today.

MS: And I have a friend – she’s working in Florida like a crazy woman for the ERA. She has been for years. Her name is Sandy Oestreich. She’s a wonderful person. And recently Nevada actually…

KR: Right – Nevada passed it and Illinois Senate passed it – the Illinois House is going to vote on it pretty soon.

MS: You really know everything that’s going on, which is nice because I don’t have to explain anything. So that was that with the ERA.

I Founded a Daycare Center

I’m jumping all over the place because this had to do with my employment. I founded a daycare center in 1970 in Canarsie, Brooklyn, which was where I was living at the time. And I put out a notice in the paper and I expected dozens of women and I think six showed up at my house. But with the six of us we started this day care. It was co-op first. I had gone to Manhattan to a church in the village. I think it was the church where VFA had a big event for Kate Millet.

KR:  Judson Church.

MS: That was where they had started. I heard about a feminist day care center so I went.  And I said that we’ve got to do. So we were co-op. It was very funny but at one point we had our daycare center in the Italian American Club in Canarsie, which was the headquarters of, I’m pretty sure the Gambino Family at the time. They would be there during the day, and we brought our kids there at night. And so I worked on that for two years. And in 1972 the center was funded by the city of New York and I became the Director.

We had a marvelous program. We had certified teachers and it was a model program and I remember once the Boss of Brooklyn – I think his last name was Esposito. He came with the newspaper photographers to our daycare center. He had some good publicity out of that.

It was a wonderful place and we encouraged the boys to play with stuff that was traditionally girls and encouraged girls to do things that were traditionally boys. And we had a really good preschool program for these kids. It wasn’t just where women could just drop off their children. It wasn’t babysitting. It was really a wonderful, just wonderful.

My Dream Was That Every Square Block Should Have a Daycare Center

I didn’t like the idea of daycare center at people’s work because then they would be kind of tied to that job. I can’t tell you how much we worked toward that. I joined an organization called the Community Controlled Daycare. And the point of it was to expand daycare in New York City and also to make sure our funding was safe and expand our own funding. And we were made up of daycare center directors from all over the city. And also the chairs of their community boards and we went to a number of demonstrations.

At one of them a woman tried to get into a meeting – I mean we all tried to get into it but she was the one in the front. And she lost a finger because they slammed the door on her finger – it was just horrible. At one point we went to the Triborough Bridge and we sat down in the middle of it. And we were there for about a half hour before we were finally hosed off.

But that was all the community controlled daycare center organization. And the leader of that organization got arrested. But that was one of the things we did. And then I worked – that was playgroup daycare center and I was paid for that. In 1972 when it finally started – it was really a very low salary but I was happy to do it.

They Didn’t Want Another Woman

And then after I left there I had another baby. And when she was about a year old I took a job with a very large insurance company. I was in a management-training program. This was the line position that I spoke about. And after that 18-month program I hired people – sales persons. I trained them in sales and I won awards for my team doing so well.  And it was finally announced that I would become an agency manager, which is what I was really aiming for. And it was announced. But it never happened.

And to this day I’m not exactly sure why it never happened but I heard a lot of stuff. And mainly I think it was they didn’t want another – they had one woman agency manager and they were afraid – they didn’t want to have another one. So I tried like hell to find out. I went to this vice president, that vice president and I left at the end of 1983.

Now-a-days women would sue for that. But at the time there were very few women if any who sued. So it just wasn’t an issue. And I was also, I was so demoralized by this – it just took everything out of me. So I just didn’t have the strength to go forward. And then after that the next thing that came up for me in employment was the TV show but I never got paid for that. It was a volunteer position although it was pretty nearly full time. So where am I going now?

KR: Well here is my question for you – do you think that your involvement in the women’s movement affected your later life – helped personally – professionally. I mean do you think you gained skills that were useful to you?

I’ve Always Been a Feminist

MS: Oh yes. I’ve always been a feminist. I haven’t always been active.  Right now all I do is – I send, I have a feminist listserv and they all want to be on this – you know. You hear list serves and you think people are just getting spam. But every woman on the list expressed an interest. And so I send them articles that are of interest to feminists – mainly from the New York Times and The Washington Post. And also other women send me articles that have a feminist angle and I send that out. So I do that.

I’m not really able to get around very well. I don’t – I can’t walk too far. I can make a block, but that’s about it. And I can’t stand for too long. So I don’t go to marches anymore. Which I was so sorry to have missed the march after the inauguration – the pussy march. 

KR: But you’re there in spirit.

Feminist Spirituality 

MS: I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to handle it. So I don’t do that. The other big thing in my life that I’m still very involved in is feminist spirituality. This started for me at a NOW conference. I think it was a New Jersey NOW conference. But Molly Yard was there and Patricia [Ireland] was there and a whole bunch of big shots from National NOW were there.

But anyway at that particular conference – only a New Jersey NOW conference -there was a bookstore – feminist bookstore that had come and set up a little store. I was looking around and looking at the books and I saw one book called Women’s Rituals. So I picked it up – it looked oddly interesting and I bought it. I read it and I thought that these groups [for] women were all for lesbians. So I had heard about these goddess groups. But I wasn’t a lesbian so I didn’t think I would belong. But a friend of mine did belong to one of these groups in my area and she said it was for all women. So I went.

It Felt Like Coming Home

This was in 1988. And one of the women who attended that group regularly was Barbara Walker who was the author of that book that I picked up at the conference. She became a very good friend. We had a private coven when she was included in it – there were eight of us. But that came later. I went to this full moon group in Morristown – it met, and I loved it.

It was just wonderful and I did a number of their rituals and it got to be a very large group. I think there were 60 or 70 women at some of the rituals. It was an open group and it was wonderful. And when I came to Pittsburgh I looked very hard for a group like that but I couldn’t find it. To this day I think there must be – but I couldn’t find it. I joined a group of pagans that included men – a nice group of people but it wasn’t what I wanted. So eventually in 2015 I started my own group.

KR: Why am I not surprised?

MS: It was a meet-up group and it’s going great. And now we have – of course they don’t all come and most of them don’t – but we have – as of last night when I looked we had 557 members, believe it or not in the Pittsburg area. But there are about 25 – 30 of them who come on a very regular basis. We only have 18 open spots but sometimes we’re overwhelmed when many more women come.

KR: We need to wrap up in a couple minutes is there anything in the last couple of minutes that you haven’t covered that you want to make sure is in history for posterity.

MS: Yes I have it written down here. This was one of the questions that I had been sent. What I’d like known about my activism and this is what I wrote.

I’ve Always Thought of Myself As a Soldier Not a Leader

However just writing down all of this material I realized that I was indeed a leader. I was a big fish in a very small pond. I’ve received awards from my NOW chapter, from NOW New Jersey and from Veteran Feminists of America. But I never did anything spectacular like write a book or lead a major action. Still I see after having written all this about myself that I actually did quite a bit for the cause of feminism.

KR: Oh, you absolutely did. That is a great closing comment and the things you’ve gone through – you really have done a lot. So I appreciate and the women that follow you will appreciate all the doors you opened for them too.

Written addendum by Mavra Stark

There was one incident in my life that plagued me for quite some time. A murder had occurred in California that made headlines for weeks. The perpetrator was named Scott Peterson. He had murdered his wife, who was eight months pregnant at the time. He threw her body into the San Francisco Bay. He was charged with double murder. I didn’t realize that California (and a number of other states) considered it a murder to kill a fetus.

I had a friendly relationship with the editor of the opinion section of the local paper. He’d call me frequently for my opinion, as the president of the local NOW chapter, on various issues that came up. This time he asked me about my opinion of the case. He wanted to know if I had any idea of why it had turned out to be such a fascination to the public. I didn’t really have any opinion on that, however, in the course of talking with him I mentioned something that I never, ever would have said has I realized that what I was saying was on the record.

I told the journalist that I was concerned about what a double murder charge might do to weaken the right to abortion, that a charge like that might somehow encourage policies that would insist that a fetus was a full human being with all the rights of such. I saw threats to reproductive rights hiding behind every tree.

I am Jewish, and the Jewish law on abortion is that the fetus is not ensouled until its head has been born. That’s based on a portion of Genesis that states “God breathed the breath of life into Adam, and he became a living soul.” While I personally feel that a fetus in the last couple of months of pregnancy is a human being, I also believed that it was a really bad idea to have that idea enshrined in law.

The journalist published what I thought I’d said to him in confidence, and it was picked up by The Drudge Report, a right wing news aggregation website. From the Drudge Report it was published not only all over this country, but in Canada and in England [and] very likely other countries. The calls and emails never stopped. It seemed as though everyone and their mothers wanted to interview me and/or say terrible things about me.

I understand that Bill O’Reilly did an hour on what I had said. I received death threats for weeks. We had to have a police presence at our NOW meetings. This happened in 2003. The Jewish News was the only religious paper that defended me. How upset I was! I certainly had my 15 minutes of fame, but I would have given anything to have avoided it. National NOW did not defend me. They refused to make any comment to the media. I can hardly believe how naive I was. What a stupid head!

I never worked for a salary again. I applied for a number of positions I was perfectly qualified for, but no employer ever contacted me. Of course, by that time, employers regularly used Google to check out prospective employees.

Now, in 2018, all of that is nothing but a bad memory.