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August 11, 2011

Human side of the feminist revolution

By Dean Robbins

"Gloria: In Her Own Words" (Monday, 8 p.m., HBO), a profile of Gloria Steinem, takes you back to the bad old days when the idea of women's rights could be openly scorned by smug male TV broadcasters. When it was socially acceptable for a man to say on camera, "Women are supposed to stay home, have kids and keep the house clean." When abortion was illegal; when women were grossly underrepresented in the workplace; and when sexual harassment was condoned. You quickly see why the United States needed Gloria Steinem and other feminists to lead a revolution for women's rights.

Now in her late 70s, Steinem is eloquent, witty and unpretentious. She speaks passionately about the feminist movement and also reveals a lot about herself.

One measure of the feminists' success is the shocking quality of the documentary's archival clips, in which mainstream figures proudly parade their sexism on national TV. That would never happen today — well, at least not as much. The film ends with a clip of Fox News' Glenn Beck sneering at women's rights the old-fashioned way, even sticking a finger in his mouth to simulate barfing.

I guess the United States still needs Gloria Steinem.

'Thundercats'

Friday, 7 p.m. (Cartoon Network)

Cartoon Network reimagines the 1980s animated series about a race of humanoid cats in the kingdom of Thundera. An unconventional young prince embarks on a quest for the throne with a group of loyal companions and a cute pet.

For a cartoon about people with pointy cat ears, "Thundercats" is pretty thrilling. If I were 10, this is the kind of show I'd watch religiously every week. I mean, I'll still watch it religiously every week as an adult. I'll just feel slightly embarrassed about it. CV



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