Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Feminism on Trial

Picking up the Pieces

Back in California, after being freed from her Nevada jail cell, Ginny and Ray agreed to give their marriage another try. Ginny was spent and drained from her ordeal and she welcomed the support Ray offered her during and after this trying time. However, she soon realized that she could not go back to being the helpless, dependent woman she had been when they first met. Too much water had gone under the bridge, especially since her involvement in the feminist movement. Nor could she go back to her catering business. Despite not being convicted, in the minds of prospective clients she would be considered damaged goods, having been arrested. Financially depleted and worn out, Ginny and Ray split up for the last time in the spring of 1978.

But the one thing that gave Ginny solace during this trying time was that the feminist movement was still open to her. She appeared to lose none of her standing with them and, in fact, may have even gained some, being seen as the victim of a male plot against her. She now plunged fulltime into the women's movement, moving quickly into circles that included the movers and shakers of the California NOW Chapter, the nation's largest. "Almost from my earliest involvement with NOW I was a member of the cadre, the favored inner circle, and as such I was marked for leadership," she wrote.

Having firsthand experience with prison life, Ginny lent that experience toward bettering the situation of women who were incarcerated. She was named co-chair of NOW's statewide Women in Prison Task Force. She also plunged headfirst into the fight for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. She traveled to states whose legislatures were considering passing the amendment, passing out leaflets, organizing caravans to key cities in those states, holding town meetings on the issue, and actively working on the campaigns of pro-ERA legislators or legislative candidates.

With ERA still short of the required vote of three-quarters of the states' legislatures and due to expire in 1979, Ginny and others labored intensively for the proposed amendment's extension. On July 9, 1978 she was among a group of more than 100,000 activist women marching on Washington for the extension. Dressed as a nineteenth century suffragette, Ginny proudly held one end of a banner that contained the full text of the ERA as they marched down Constitution Avenue.

That same year she was elected vice president of the California NOW chapter. The following year the national NOW convention was held in Los Angeles and Ginny was front and center in helping to organize it. During the presidential campaign of 1980 Ginny and others in NOW leadership positions supported the candidacy of Massachusetts Senator Edward "Teddy" Kennedy over the incumbent President Jimmy Carter.

Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem

Elected as a delegate to the Democratic Convention in New York, Ginny was on the floor as the whip for one of the best-organized and most powerful contingents at the convention. She was hobnobbing in the company of such renowned feminist leaders as Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, Ellie Smeal, and others. The NOW faction succeeded in getting their two major planks into the party platform: support for ERA and condemnation of government interference with a woman's right to an abortion.

Despite Kennedy's loss to Carter and Carter's loss in the fall to Ronald Reagan, Ginny came out of the experience more savvy in the ways of politics. It was to serve as a learning experience that would benefit her later on when she chose the path of seeking elective office.

While much of this whirlwind of activity was going on in Ginny's life, she got involved in a relationship with a wealthy Jewish TV producer named Jack Meyer. He was a supporter of the women's movement and seemed to be proud of Ginny's involvement in it; however, he also seemed to resent the demands the movement placed on her time. He complained about not seeing enough of her. They split up for a year, then reunited and married in a lavish wedding, followed by a European honeymoon. But it didn't last and, after only two months, the newlywed couple was living apart. The marriage was annulled within a year. It was her fourth and final marriage.

 

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