Ellen

Checking my email inbox, my eyeballs leap to a particular message and its sender’s name: Gloria Steinem! OMG! What better Women’s History Month gift could I possibly receive than a personal email from the woman who changed my life. I cross my fingers before opening it while wishing upon the lavender candle I have burning in my office. “What could it be?” I wondered. “Dear Ellen, You were entered in a Feminist Nerd sweepstakes, and you’ve won a month in Hawaii with me and yearlong funding for your favorite cause!” Shaking, I opened it.

Subject line: “Checking on you.” Body of email: “Hi, How are you doing and I hope you are staying safe? Please email me back when you get this. I need a little favor from you. Love, Gloria.” Poop… no sweepstakes. Still, you don’t ask for favors, large or small, from just anyone!

I’m having a bit of a niggling feeling about the email, as there are so many scams now. So, before I write back, I ask my husband about it — his business name is The Tech Daddy, after all. Is this a scam? He says the “from” and “reply-to” addresses are legit, and the email looks OK to him.

I write back immediately. Subject line: “We’re great! How may I serve you?” Body of my reply: “Dear Gloria, We are doing well. I was teaching a class when your email came in. I was ready to say, ‘Anything… I’ll do anything for you!’ However, I’m revising that to ‘I would do most things for you.’ What can I do? Love, Ellen.”

Gloria’s response was almost immediate: “Thanks for responding; I am sorry for bothering you with this mail. I need to get a Google Play gift card for my friend’s daughter. It’s her birthday, but I can’t do this now because I’m currently away, and I tried purchasing online but unfortunately had no luck with that. Can you get one from any store around you? I’ll pay you back as soon as I return. Kindly let me know if you can handle this. Love, Gloria.”

My “hoax” red flags — no, red fireworks — are going off. I find Gloria’s office number and tell her assistant, “This is Ellen Snortland. Do you happen to know if Gloria sent me an email requesting that I get a gift card for a friend?” “You’re not the only one who has called,” she says. “Gloria was hacked. Thanks for checking.”

I am relieved and also crushed. Did the scammers look for the geekiest Gloria fans and target us for maximum cruelty? And it could even be politically motivated. There are so many people on the ultra-right who consider feminists to be the scourge of humanity. Granted, we are a threat to patriarchs, whether Russian, American or from another planet. Maybe Tucker Carlson did it. He hates Gloria and is apparently a Russian asset.

Do I worship Gloria Steinem? No, I do not. Do I regard her as both a mensch and a catalyst for the blessed life that I live? Absolutely.

I’m so grateful to my late mother, who looked up to Eleanor Roosevelt as someone to emulate. We, as a society, don’t make it a practice to hold up women as exemplars for living, even less now than in my mother’s generation. “Ellen, be like Eleanor Roosevelt.” “Why?” “Beauty doesn’t last, but commitment to other people does, and she cares about everyone. Be like that.”

When I was 17, I was happily one of about 30 people to attend a lecture by two real live feminists, Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes, in a small lecture hall in Billings, Montana. What a revelation they were! For the first time in my life, I saw a woman I aspired to be like. I vowed to be a woman that Gloria Steinem would be proud of. Now, we have women and girls (and gender nonconforming folks) bending themselves inside out to “look” good, to emulate bodies rather than spirits and passions.

I really did transform after that evening in Billings. As much as I admire women who didn’t take an activist path, I had never seen a woman who embodied my values so thoroughly. I called my mother the night after I saw Gloria and Dorothy.

“Mom, what do you think of Gloria Steinem?”

“She’s your Eleanor Roosevelt.”

Indeed, she has been and continues to be.

And now for a word from The Tech Daddy, aka my hubby, Ken Gruberman, regarding the recent increase of scams and hoaxes.

The Ukraine situation has caused a massive increase in hacking and scams. Some are generated by Russian state-sanctioned hackers, while many are “the regular suspects” who are taking advantage. The New York Times’ “Wirecutter” website has the best and easiest to understand advice on how to protect yourself. Just Google “Wirecutter Practical Guide Securing Mac” or swap out “PC” for the word “Mac.” Don’t put this off! And please install any system updates that have been issued in the last week.

Ellen Snortland has written “Consider This…” for a heckuva long time, and she also coaches first-time book authors! Contact her at ellen@beautybitesbeast.com