I Was Told My Activism Would Stall My Journalism Career

I Was Told My Activism Would Stall My Journalism Career

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Marilyn Goldstein, 80

Newspaper Reporter (Retired from work, but not from life)

Marilyn Goldstein found herself at the forefront of a movement that would go on to shape modern feminism as we know it. While working as a reporter at Newsday in the Sixties, she fought through corporate sexism, and ultimately won a court case for women’s right to promotion and fair wages. “Be proud of being a feminist,’ she says. “Feminist is not a dirty word.”

1. What made you choose this career path? What has been your greatest achievement?

This career path was accidental. Out of college I wanted to become an advertising copywriter- which I did. Then came marriage and a baby. It was 1962– in those days most women never even considered working if they could afford to stop – so I quit. After having a second child and realizing my life was missing a work-related center, I started writing humor pieces about life in the suburbs and sending them to Newsday, then the 6th or 7th largest and most respected U.S. paper. To my surprise, they liked my work and offered me a job on what was then called the Women’s Pages – food, fashion, furnishings, and the goings on in women’s volunteer organizations, such as the PTA. 

The Women’s Page was a female ghetto, long gone into oblivion.  But, since it was about women, I got there just in time to cover a new movement, then called Women’s Lib. There, I witnessed its slow acceptance and world-shaking advances – and watched women’s ghettos like the Women’s Pages disappear. My greatest achievement was not political. It was raising two caring and daring feminist daughters, who are doing the same with their daughters. But every once in awhile I do  think about being one very small part of a movement that changed the world, and I smile.

2. What’s the biggest criticism/stereotype/judgement you’ve faced in your career?

In the early 1970s, with the women’s movement in full swing, my female colleagues got together and filed a Title 7 sex discrimination suit against our employer. I was among the leaders in the suit, so I was the designated city room feminist.

Marilyn Goldstein

Years later, and thanks to our suit, I rose steadily through the ranks. I knew I was being considered for a position as a columnist, the top of the reporter pole, but I didn’t get chosen that time. Later a male colleague of mine who palled around with the top editors told me the then Managing Editor held me responsible for “all the trouble” (including the fact his wife ran away with his best friend, but that’s another story too). My colleague quoted the Managing Editor as saying, “She’ll never get a column as long as I’m here.” And I didn’t. But shortly after he retired I got my column.

“I paid a price for my activism and leadership.”

3. What was the hardest part of overcoming this negativity? Do you have an anecdote you can share?

I paid a price for my activism and leadership. I didn’t get the great promotion I deserved until the Managing Editor who seemed to hold me personally responsible for the entire women’s movement retired. And I don’t regret it one bit. So much progress was made after the suit. Today many of Newsday’s top editors are women.

4. As you #SWAAYthenarrative, do you feel empowered? What has been your emotional reaction?

I just kept being the best reporter I could be, while taking an I action that benefitted the myself and many women. I’ve since realized I was standing on shoulders women who started fighting for decades, even centuries, before me.

5. What’s your number one piece of advice to women discouraged by preconceived notions and society’s limitations?

Be brave. Keep fighting for your rights. Be proud of being a feminist. Feminist is not a dirty word.  And be a role model for your daughters and sons, show them you can do what you set out to do, and so can they.

“Be brave. Keep fighting for your rights. Be proud of being a feminist. Feminist is not a dirty word.”

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