- Interviews of, and Articles about, Sonia
- Book Excerpts
- Book Reviews
- Buy the Book
Interviews of, Articles about, and Books that Include Sonia
Articles about Sonia are also contained in the section on Belgium.
On April 19, 2022, Penguin Random House published The Great Stewardess Rebellion: How Women Launched a Workplace Revolution at 30,000 Feet by Nell McShane Wulfhart, in which Sonia plays a prominent part.
In 1968, many U.S. airlines terminated or grounded stewardesses (who flew only on domestic flights) when they married or turned 32 or 35. U.S. airlines also had other requirements and restrictions on these women flight cabin attendants that they did not have on male flight cabin attendants who flew on international flights, were called pursers, and did the same jobs as the stewardesses. Many stewardesses and their union filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about these practices.
Sonia drafted the decision wherein the EEOC found that the airlines’ policies on age and marriage for stewardesses violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That decision was later confirmed by the courts. It was the beginning of the legal revolution in women’s rights in the U.S., which later spread worldwide.
The book received outstanding reviews from the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and many other publications. Nell McShane Wulfhart discussed the book on radio station WHYY, an NPR affiliate, in Philadelphia, on May 3, 2022, at 10 a.m. on Radio Times. You can hear her comments, including a reference to Sonia, here. (When you get to this website, click on “Listen 49:29” at the top.)
- On Aug. 26, 2021, Growing Bolder, an organization for and about seniors, put an article about Sonia on its website.
- On Aug. 14, 2020, SRQ magazine in Sarasota had an article about Sonia by Andrew Fabian entitled "Foot Soldier for Women's Rights Retells Stories From the Front Lines."
- On July 24, 2020, there was an article in Sarasota Magazine by Kay Kipling about Sarasota's celebration of the centennial of suffrage, which mentioned Sonia twice.
- Article in Town and Country magazine of April 19, 2020, about the history of the ERA begins with a quote from Sonia.
- On Apr. 2, 2019, author Pamela S. Nadell's book, America's Jewish Women: A History From Colonial Times to Today, was published. Ms. Nadell interviewed Sonia for the book, and Sonia is included in it. The New York Times' Mar. 29, 2019, review of the book included the following statement: "From Betty Friedan to Sonia Pressman, Bella Abzug and Gerda Lerner, Jewish women had an outsize role in the feminist struggle."
- The November 30, 2018, issue of the Washington Post contained a column by Petula Dvorak about the ERA and Sonia's comments on it.
- In its October 2018 issue, Sarasota's newspaper, West Coast Woman, announced Sonia's Oct. 24, 2018, talk to the Sarasota chapter of AAUW.
- The Washington Post has a newsletter that explores identity and culture in America called About US, which included Sonia on July 13, 2018.
- On Dec. 20, 2017, Sonia was featured on the cover of the Sarasota section of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune with regard to her talk scheduled for Jan. 11, 2018, to the Ladybugs, the Sarasota chapter of the Ninety-Nines, an international organization of women pilots founded in 1929. The local chapter was founded a year ago.
- From Nov. 9 through 11, 2017, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune's website contained the following article about a talk Sonia was due to deliver at the first anniversary of the Sarasota chapter of the Ninety-Nines, an international organization of female aviators that was founded in 1929.
- In the Jewish Women's Archive blog of July 27, 2017, in the entry, "Combatting Sexual Harassment and Assault in Schools," by Sara Lebow, Esther Warkov, co-founder and co-executive director of SSAIS (Stop Sexual Assault in Schools), refers to Sonia as a senior mentor and a "distinguished feminist lawyer."
- On July 1, 2017, SSAIS (Stop Sexual Assault in Schools) issued its Final Report on its action under an AAUW Community Action Grant Awarded to Stop Sexual Assault in Schools 2016-2017. Sonia is one of seven women quoted at the beginning of the report, as follows:
Two of the critical areas in gender discrimination today are sexual harassment and sexual assault. Most of the attention has, however, been focused on college and university campuses. SSAIS is performing a vital service in fighting sexual harassment and assault in an otherwise forgotten area: K-12. “Sexual Harassment: Not in Our School!,” using experts and student activists, sets forth the applicable law in this area and suggests ways in which families, students, school administrators, faculty, and the community can fight this scourge in grades K-12. -Sonia Pressman Fuentes, attorney, co-founder National Organization for Women
- Sonia in Jewish Women's Archive quiz.
- On Mar. 1, 2017, in its blog, the Jewish Women's Archive for Women's History Month recognized Jewish women lawyers and researchers of second wave feminism, of whom Sonia was one.
- Minnah Stein, a 16-year-old student at Sarasota's Pine View School for the gifted, mentions Sonia in her blog post about the Violins of Hope program brought to Sarasota by the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee. Minnah's picture is at the end of her post.
- On Jan. 26, 2017, Sonia's friend and mentee, Minnah Stein, a 16-year-old student at Sarasota's Pine View School for the gifted, blogged about Sonia's escape from Nazi Germany in 1933.
- Sixteen-year-old feminist activist and fighter against sexual assaults in schools, Minnah Stein, describes participating in the Women's March (attended by 10,000) in Sarasota, FL and dedicates her first picture to Sonia.
- In connection with the 50th anniversary of the founding of NOW, the Fall 2016 issue of Beacon, the bi-annual magazine, in hard cover and online, of the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, PA, included a profile of Sonia called "Founding (Jewish) Mother." Click the arrow at the right of the magazine cover until you come to page 4. To enlarge the print, click on the icon of the open square box to the right of the sliders that are at the bottom of page 4. To leave the page, click "Esc" on your keyboard.
- Sonia was profiled in the May/June 2016 issue of Suncoast Living Magazine, a magazine for people on Florida's West Coast.
- Sonia is included among six women highlighted by the National Women's History Project on Mar. 1, 2016.
- On Feb. 29, 2016, the Veteran Feminists of America, published an ebook of biographies and pictures called Our Fabulous Feminists, which includes Sonia. It can be downloaded for free.
- This picture of Sonia appears on page 36 of the Summer 2015 magazine, Jewish Currents, a progressive, secular voice, as part of an article called “The Jewish Left: A Visual History, Part Two: 1946-2015,” written by the editorial board of that magazine.
- On July 24, 2015, Zoe Nicholson, a feminist activist who is specializing in Alice Paul, sent out an enewsletter, which contained the following about Sonia:
"When I began to study Alice Paul to the exclusion of everything else I realized that phone interviews would be pivotal and rare options. Miss Paul was 92 when she died in 1977 and those who knew her, interned for her or worked for her hold priceless memories that need to be harvested.
"I made calls. Some were emotional. Some were poetic and nostalgic. Of course some were all about politics. But then I made a call that set my sails; it was with Sonia Fuentes. I can still hear her impatience and disgust that most do not know the brilliant strategist mind, the lifelong commitment, the legislation and international impact of Miss Alice Paul. I felt challenged and dug deeper than I had previously planned."
- An article about Sonia in the Winter 2015 issue of Gravitas, an online and hard copy magazine that focuses on women in the Sarasota and Tampa, FL areas.
- In March 2015, Sonia's story went on the website of Just Do Your Dream. To access it:
- Go to justdoyourdream.com,
- click on the drop down menu under "Stories" at the top,
- select "Speaking, Coaching, Teaching," and
- scroll down to Sonia's story when you reach that screen.
- See references to Sonia on the blog of Candy Dawson, the wife of Greg Dawson, author of Hiding in the Spotlight (March 1, 2015).
- Sonia is quoted in a Sarasota Herald-Tribune article of Nov. 5, 2014, about the political campaign for Congress of her 101-year-old friend, Joe Newman.
- Announcement of Sonia's interview on radio station WBAI in program commemorating the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which, among other things, prohibits gender discrimination in employment by covered employers, employment agencies, and labor unions.
- The Jewish News of Sarasota-Manatee, Vol. 44, No. 6 (June 2014, p. 10).
- Excerpt from the June 5, 2014, "Jewdayo" section of Jewish Currents.
- Sonia participates in a Holocaust Survivors program at the Al Katz Center for Holocaust Survivors and Jewish Learning in Sarasota, FL. Front-page article, Bradenton Herald-Tribune, April 28, 2014.
- Dec. 2013 Newsletter of the E.B. Crawford Public Library in Monticello, NY, to which Sonia’s publisher, Xlibris Corp., donated a copy of her memoir.
- Danielle (DanYang) Yu Interviews Trailblazing Feminists, November 7, 2013.
- Xlibris, the publisher of Sonia’s memoir, featured her in its Author Spotlight in November 2013, and also published this article in its November newsletter.
- By Catharine Skipp, "A Conversation with the Remarkable Sonia Pressman Fuentes, J.D. '57," Miami Law Magazine, University of Miami School of Law, Fall 2013. (If you need to enlarge the text to read it in your browser, click on it with your mouse.)
- Jewish Women’s Archive, This Week in History, Week of July 1, 2013, recognizes Sonia’s work at the EEOC on the anniversary of the opening of the EEOC.
- June 13, 2013, Report of Leita Kaldi, head of the UN Women’s Book Club, Sarasota, FL, on the discussion of Sonia’s memoir, with Sonia present, on June 10.
- Sarasota's Sonia Pressman Fuentes to Receive Breaking the Glass Ceiling Award, April 17, 2013.
- On March 14, 2013, the Veteran Feminists of America (VFA), an organization dedicated to recognizing the pioneer feminists of the second wave of the women’s movement, announced the revamping of its website at www.vfa.us. Sonia is mentioned throughout the website.
- On February 21, 2013, the Women’s Herstory Initiative, Words of Women, International Women’s Day, based in Dallas, TX, announced that the essay of seventeen-year-old Talia Weisberg about Sonia on the subject “The Most Influential Woman in My Life” won the Words of Women Essay contest.
- The book, Jews of Sarasota-Manatee, by Kim Sheintal (Arcadia Publishing, Feb. 2013), contains a 2002 photo of Sonia in front of a sign about the Jewish Genealogical Society (JGS) of Southwest Florida (p. 25). Sonia gave a talk to JGS on March 2002. The link will open to page 25.
- “Boston Commons,” by Talia Weisberg, was published on January 8, 2013, in Fresh ink for Teens, an online newspaper sponsored by the Jewish Week in New York City.
- "Groundbreakers or Ground Takers?" by Talia Weisberg, was published on December. 8, 2012, in Fresh ink for Teens, an online publication sponsored by the New York Jewish Week.
- By Tyler Whitson, "Women's Rights Pioneers Strive to Influence and Inspire a New Generation," Sarasota News Leader, November 16, 2012. (Visit the Sarasota News Leader Web site.)
- "Women's Rights Pioneer Sonia Fuentes Speaks at Law School," enewsletter of the Cornell University School of Law, Oct. 31, 2012.
- By Deborah Carney, "Sonia Pressman Fuentes Interview About Feminism and Her Memoir," October 8, 2012.
- Interview with Sonia Pressman Fuentes as a Featured Writer on authormepro.com, August 30, 2012.
- By Nick Friedman, "Neighbors: Sonia Pressman Fuentes," July 4, 2012.
- Sonia is mentioned in an article commemorating the 46th anniversary of the June 1966 founding meeting of NOW. (Jewdayo section of Jewish Currents, June 30, 2012)
- Sarasota Observer, June 28, 2012: Sonia presents copies of her memoir to prizewinning young women students at Booker Middle School, Sarasota, FL.
- RTIRonline asks Sonia to comment on the death of Nora Ephron, June 28, 2012.
- Is Laura Bush feminist enough for Alice Paul Award?, Washington Post, June 20, 2012.
- Sewall-Belmont House draws fire for honoring Laura Bush, Washington, DC's The Examiner, June 20, 2012.
- Who Will Speak Out Against an Outrageous Insult to Former First Lady Laura Bush?, The Huffington Post, June 18, 2012. It says at the end of the article "Continue reading" but we don't have access to any additional material.
- Laura Bush's fight for women, Washington Post, June 19, 2012.
- Sonia initiates campaign to protest the National Woman’s Party/Sewall-Belmont House & Museum’s plan to give the Alice Award to Laura Bush, Washington Post, June 18, 2012.
- Cary Franklin, “Inventing the `traditional concept’ of sex discrimination,” Harv. Law Review, Vol. 125, # 6, p. 1307 (2012), Univ. of Texas Law, Public Law Research Paper #219.
- "Eva Alexandra Countess Kendeffy, Sonia Pressman Fuentes and Rabbi Jonathan Katz", Longboat Key Observer of March 11, 2012. This picture also appeared in the Sarasota, FL, Jewish News (April 2012, p. 14B).
- By David Beard and Bethonie Butler, "The keys to a better life? Everyone has an opinion," February 21, 2012.
- Interview of Sonia by Talia bat Pessi, a high school student, that went online on Feb. 9, 2012.
- Feb. 5, 2012, Interview with Cyrus Webb, editor of Conversations Magazine.
- "Jean Faust, First President of the First Chapter of NOW," December 8, 2011.
- By Abby Weingarten, "Feminist Revisits Her Birth Country," November 9, 2011 (Online version | Photocopy)/Sonia with Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger.
- Generations of the Shoah International Newsletter, October 2011.
- "NOW Conference: Action, Inspiration and Connection," Now National Times, Fall 2011.
- "Sonia Fuentes, writer, speaker, and feminist activist, tells us about her life," HavaMAG Life, Issue 4, September 2011. (To access the article: Click on the arrow to the right until it takes you to the Table of Contents on the left. Next, click on the first item in the Table of Contents, which is the article about Sonia, on page 10. When you come to the article, double click on each page to make the type readable.)
- "Featured Author," Published by Sonia's publisher, Xlibris Corp., in a newsletter and on its website, July 27, 2011.
- By Slavica Monczka, "Feminist Sonia Pressman Fuentes. Her Passion for Women's Rights," appeared in the e-zine, Inspirational Woman's Magazine, on July 24, 2011, and was written by Slavica Monczka.
- On July 21, 2011, Amanda Gonzalez wrote an article about Sonia for the blog of Ms. JD, an e-zine targeted to women law students and beginning women lawyers.
- By Slavica Monczka, "Something Beautiful is Happening," seductivelyfrench.com, July 5, 2011.
- "Blending motherhood and working: Moms work by choice — and also out of necessity," Deseret News, June 26, 2011.
- "Second Wave Founder" by Sonia Fuentes, girlscantwhat.com, June 9, 2011.
- The CHJ Connection (Vo. XIV, No. 9, May-June 2011).
- Sonia’s March 3, 2011, letter to the editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune is discussed in “Religious Rehab at Florida Jail Sparks Protest,” Church & State (Vol. 64, No. 4, Apr. 2011), the magazine of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The letter is included and can be read in the Letters to the Editor section of this website.
- The CHJ Connection, the newsletter of the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism in Sarasota, FL, December 2010.
- TILES, the newsletter of the Jewish Museum of Florida, December 2010.
- The Quotable Woman, The First 5,000 Years (6th ed., October 2010), an anthology by Elaine Partnow, includes three quotations from Sonia.
- By WomensRadio Staff, October 12, 2010.
- By Cathy B Stucker, sellingbooks.com, September 8, 2010.
- Column called “WorkWise BlogTip: Know when to be direct” by Dr. Mildred L. Culp, which appeared in the Modesto [Calif.] Bee of Sept. 6, 2010.
- Radio-TV Interview Report, "Elena Kagan—Fifty and Fabulous," July 7, 2010.
- By Joan Collins, The Sullivan County Democrat newspaper on June 18, 2010.
- By Joan Collins, The Sullivan County Democrat newspaper on June 11, 2010.
- Author Spotlight, Xlibris, June, 2010.
- By Andrea Kay, USA Today, May 17, 2010.
- By Nancy Gibbs, "Love, Sex, Freedom and the Paradox of the Pill, A Brief History of Birth Control," April 22, 2010.
- By David Ball, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, February 20, 2010.
- By Tamar Burris, published on the Web site, Story of My Life, January 19, 2010.
- By Marita Meegan, akgmag.com interviews, August 2009.
- By Corie Russell, She Knows, July 2009.
- By Meigs Glidewell, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, June 30, 2009.
- By Heather Dunhill, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, June 4, 2009.
- By Veronica I. Arreola, Viva la Feminista, April, 2009.
- By Amanda Joe, The Cornell Daily Sun, April 23, 2009.
- StopGap Magazine, the members’ magazine of the Fawcett Society in the UK, Spring 2009.
- Sonia, who graduated from Monticello High School, in Monticello, NY, was profiled in the October 2008 issue of the newsletter of the Monticello Central School District and is on the district’s website.
- By Bill Hutchinson, "A life of standing up for women," Sarasota Herald-Tribune, June 9, 2008.
- By Kristen J. Tsetsi, Journal Inquirer, March 31, 2008.
- By Evelyn L. Moya, The Docket, February 2008.
- By Linda Jimenez Glassman, "English Corner" Radio Sefarad interview, August 2007.
- By Ruth Lando, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, July 1, 2007.
- By Steven A. Bibb, Passages, Summer 2007.
- By Marsha Fottler, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, May 12, 2007.
- By Erica Brody, National Council of Jewish Women Journal, Winter 2006 (pdf. file).
- Featured Author, Xlibris, November, 2006.
- By Adam Levin, Washington Jewish Week, June 29, 2006.
- By Susan Weidman Schneider, The Reporter (Spring 2006, Vol. 55, No. 2, p. 10), a publication of Women's American ORT.
- The Barrister, the University of Miami (FL) School of Law alumni magazine, Winter 2005.
- By Debra Rubin, "The f-word Online exhibit features local Jewish feminists," October 27, 2005. Sonia is one of six Washington, DC area women included in the exhibit of the Jewish Women’s Archive called Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution.
- By Jacqueline Sternberg, Washington Jewish Week, April 28, 2005.
- Sonia was one of seventy-four Jewish women included in an exhibit of the Jewish Women's Archive (JWA) called The Feminist Revolution at jwa.org/feminism Her write-up is at jwa.org/feminism/fuentes-sonia-pressman. She is also pictured on JWA's website.
- By Ken Millstone, The Potomac Almanac, October 13-19, 2004.
- Sonia was featured in the August 5, 2004, issue of the University of Miami Alumni E-Newsletter (she is an alumna of the law school) as follows:
Featured Alumna Sonia Pressman Fuentes Leader of the Women's Movement Isn't Slowing Down
For most immigrants fleeing Nazi Germany in the early 1930's, America was a land of freedom and opportunity that usually came with the price of hard times and hard work that left little room for philosophical or social conviction. Not so for Sonia Pressman Fuentes, JD '57, who even today is continuing to work hard in support of her convictions. Fuentes is one of the most lively and active feminist public speakers and authors today, not allowing herself to rest on the laurels of her past accomplishments or slow down in the twilight of her life. From being the first female attorney in the Office of General Counsel at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to being one of the co-founders of the National Organization of Women (NOW), Fuentes continues today to be driven and energetic in her pursuit of women's rights. Recently, Sonia has been traveling the globe and continuing her experiential education in culture, society, and the arts. She has also spoken on behalf of candidates supportive of the women's movement, and will be featured in an upcoming documentary by Jennifer Lee regarding a revival and the second wave of the women's movement. Her memoir, Eat First. You Don't Know What They'll Give You; The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and their Feminist Daughter continues to be a popular and inspirational selection for all people in all walks of life...
- By Jeanette Friedman, Lifestyles Magazine, Fall 2003 (pdf file).
- By Sheri' McConnell, National Association of Women Writers, May 2003.
- By Michael Pollick, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, November 25, 2002.
- By Magdalena Ball, The Compulsive Reader, July 2002.
- By the Editor of WomenWriters.net, June 2002.
- By Phil Fink, radio interview on Shalom America, WELW 1330 AM, Cleveland, Ohio, Feb. 3, 2002 (not available on the www).
- By Norman Simms, Chadashot, August 2001.
- By Bill Adams, The Senior News, July 2001.
- By Jenna Glatzer, WriteRead University, May 14, 2001.
- Publishing Success Magazine, May 2001.
- By Lisa Katz, "The Making of a Jewish American Feminist: Sonia Pressman Fuentes." This is a seven-part piece about Eat First and Ms. Fuentes.
- Part 1: Book Synopsis - "Let it be"
- Part 2: Book Synopsis - A Meaningful Contribution
- Part 3: Book Synopsis - The Focus of Sonia's Life
- Part 4: Book Synopsis - The Fight for Women's Rights
- Part 5: Book Synopsis - Underground Activity
- Part 6: Jewish Q&A
- Part 7: Eat First--You Don't Know What They'll Give You
- By Barbara Ruben, Senior Beacon, October 2000.
- Cornell Chronicle (Vol. 31, No. 31, April 20, 2000).
- By Lynn Laframboise, Word Wrangler Publishing, February 2000.
- Shalom, newspaper for the Reading, PA, Jewish community, February 2000.
- By Linda Eberharter, Bridge Works Publishing, January 2000.
- By Marlena Thompson, Washington Jewish Week, December 16, 1999.
- By Linda Davis Kyle, "Writers Around the World," August 1998.
- By Eva S., "Evenings with Eva," July 21, 1998.
- By Ellen Joan Pollock, Wall Street Journal, May 1998. (This article is a follow-up to a 1975 Wall Street Journal article by Mary Bralove.)
- By Risa Molitz, "Fuentes' lecture leads to talk on uniting women," University of Virginia's The Cavalier Daily, October 22, 1997.
- By Frankee Nesta, West Coast Woman, May 1997.
- Beginning of interview of Sonia on the early history of the EEOC by Sylvia Danovitch, assistant to the EEOC's chairman, on Dec. 27, 1990.
- By Betty Friedan, It Changed My Life: Writings on the Women’s Movement, 1976.
- By Mary Bralove, Wall Street Journal, May 13, 1975.
- Excerpt from Betty Friedan’s article, “Up from the kitchen floor,” NY Times Magazine (March 4, 1973), crediting Sonia with giving her the idea to start an organization to fight for women like the NAACP fought for its constituents.
- Sonia Fuentes makes news : June 24, 1970 : Woman Fights For A Job As Park Guard
- Courier-Times, Bucks County, PA, June 25, 1970.
- By Dorothy Gilcrest, Anniston (AL) Star, October 21, 1969.
- Sonia is mentioned in several of the footnotes of the attached 1969 law review article dealing with marital restrictions on stewardesses, now known as flight cabin attendants.
- By Louise Hutchinson, "U.S. Hearings to Weigh Sex in the Skies," Chicago Tribune Press Service (July 23, 1967).
- "Women's Equality Is Pressed," Hartford (CT) Courant (Dec. 7, 1966, p. 1).
- By Sylvia Porter, Post-Crescent, May 28, 1963.
- B’nai B’rith Women’s World, November 1959.
- By Susie Marbey, The Miami Hurricane, May 10, 1957.
Excerpts from Eat First -- You Don't Know What They'll Give You
- Jewish Geography -- this story was first published in October 1998 in Der Bay, the newsletter of the International Association of Yiddish Clubs. Here, both the English version and a version in transliterated Yiddish are available in pdf format.
- Return to Germany -- the story of Sonia’s return to Germany in 1978 to speak about the women’s rights revolution in the US for the then-US Information Agency (USIA), published on the website of The Jewish Writing Project on Jan. 19, 2009. That story is also contained in the anthology, Marking Humanity, Stories Poems, & Essays by Holocaust Survivors, edited by Shlomit Kriger (Aug. 23, 2010, pp. 226-234).
- If You Speak His Language --This piece was published in Tzum Punkt (Nov.-Dec. 1999, Vol. 1, No. 2) p. 5, the newsletter of Yiddish of Greater Washington.
- Thai Silk -- This piece was first published in the Common Law Lawyer and then on the websites of whispersmagazine.com, iagora.com, and BankgokAtoZ.com (September 2001).
and Beyond -- This excerpt appeared on May 25, 2001, in
the Story Lady e-newsletter and on its website,
the Jewish Frontier, the Jewish Internet magazine, the Jewish Magazine online, the e-zine, Home-Based Working Moms, and the Writer Online.
Terry Boothman, the editor of the Writer Online,
had this to say about it in the January 14, 2003, issue that
carried the story:
Everyone's life is interesting, right? Sure. So, everyone should write a memoir, right? Yeah, why not.. And everyone should publish a memoir, right? Good Lord, no. Because not everyone knows how to write a publishable memoir, which means a memoir that lots of other people will enjoy reading. Sonia Pressman Fuentes, one of the founders of the National Organization for Women, published just such a memoir--"Eat First--You Don't Know What They'll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter." Now, in How I Got My Mink Stole, excerpted from that memoir, you can get a glimpse of exactly how good memoirs are written.
- Weinberg's Glasses - the story of what happened when Sonia's father found a pair of eyeglasses.
- Sex Maniac -- the story of the Second Wave of the women's movement and Fuentes' role in it.
- Harry Golden and "the Coat" -- Sonia Fuentes sues Harry Golden, published in Jewish Currents, June 16, 1997.
- How I Got My Mink Stole -- a lengthy struggle with an unexpected denouement.
- Eating Out -- published in the April 11, 2001, issue of Writer's Bloc Online, the e-newsletter of the National Writers Union.
- Graduating With My Class -- Fuentes' desire to graduate with her high school class has a significant consequence. Published originally in the Catskill/Hudson Jewish Star 6.2 (June 1996) 17.1 and then on Harry Leichter's website.
- Mother and the Night School -- published in the December 2001, issue of Kolot, A World of Jewish Voices.
- Catskills Stories -- Some of Fuentes' stories about her experiences in the Catskill Mountains of New York State may be found at the Museum of Family History.
- Whole Living Journal, March-April, 2005
- feministplanet.com, 2003
- Bella Online, July, 2003
- Womensradio.com, May, 2003
- The Story Circle, July 2002, reprinted in Ms. Magazine online
- The Compulsive Reader, July 2002
- Rabbi Sam Silver, Congregation L'dor Va-dor, July 2002
- Midwest Book Review, April 2002
- Sarasota Herald-Tribune, March 17, 2002
- C. Penn "WordWeaving," amazon.com, March 15, 2002
- Michael Fein, editor of Gantseh Megillah, January 2002
- Chadashot, August, 2001
- Women's Books Online, First - Third Quarter, 2001
- Unions Today, July 2001
- Inscriptions, June 2001
- 5thmoon.com, May 2001
- totallyjewish.com, May 2, 2001
- Syracuse New Times, April 11-18, 2001
- Holt Uncensored, January 16, 2001
- Miami Magazine, Fall 2000
- Ofrah's Jewish Book Club, May 2000
- Der Bay, March 2000
- Shalom, February 2000
- Becky Barbour, June 3, 2000
- Bridge Works Publishing, January 2000
- US Times Bestseller List
- Straight from the Heart, 1999
Buy the Book
Eat First -- You Don't Know What They'll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter by Sonia Pressman Fuentes
Book Ordering Information
In the United States, EAT FIRST can be ordered in paperback and hardback from amazon.com, bn.com, and xlibris.com. The book can be ordered from amazon.co.uk in the UK and amazon.ca in Canada. EAT FIRST is also available for Kindle which includes free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet.
Sonia Pressman Fuentes
VETERAN FEMINISTS OF AMERICA
salutes SONIA PRESSMAN FUENTES
FEMINIST LAWYER, A FOUNDER OF NOW, VFA ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER
May 17, 2011
I was born in Berlin, Germany, of Polish Jewish parents in 1928. In 1933, my brother, Hermann, who was fourteen years my senior, saw the threat Hitler posed to Germany's Jews and urged my parents to leave Germany. My father, who had lived in Germany for over twenty years and was the prosperous owner of a men's clothing store, scoffed at this suggestion. He was sure that Hitler and his Nazi followers would soon blow over.
My brother decided to leave on his own, and, in May 1933, he moved to Antwerp, Belgium. Shortly thereafter, my father changed his mind about leaving Germany, met with a group of Nazis, agreed to give them our business for a fraction of its cost, and they gave us permission to leave.
In July 1933, my parents and I moved to Antwerp. There followed months during which my father and brother tried to find a way to make a living in Antwerp and other European cities, but nothing worked out. My brother made countless applications for visas to permit our family to remain in Belgium; all were denied. Then, my father read that ships were departing for the U.S., and my parents decided we would get on one of these ships. Since my parents had been born in Poland, we were able to get visas for the U.S. on our Polish passports. We left Antwerp on the Red Star Line's S.S. Westernland in April 1933, arriving in New York City on May 1, 1934.
After we had left Antwerp, the police came to our apartment to serve us with deportation papers; they planned to deport us to Poland, where my parents hadn't lived in twenty years. Had our visas to remain in Belgium been granted or had we been deported to Poland, we would, in all likelihood, have been killed during the Holocaust.
On arriving in New York City, my family rented an apartment in the Bronx and my father went into the men's clothing business.
After a summer 1935 vacation in the Catskill Mountains of New York State, my father decided that we would be moving to a village in the Catskills, where he planned to go into the resort business, a business in which he had no experience.
In 1936, we moved to the village of Woodridge, New York, where my parents rented and ran a rooming house for five years. In 1941, my parents bought fifty acres of land in the nearby, larger town of Monticello, where they built a twenty-five-bungalow colony.
I graduated from high school in Monticello as valedictorian of my class and went on to Cornell University, from which I graduated, Phi Beta Kappa, in 1950.
By that time, my brother was married and living in Long Beach, New York; my parents had sold the bungalow colony, retired and moved to Long Beach, too; and I moved there to live with my parents.
I thought the world would be beating a path to my door. But no such thing happened. I couldn't get a job until I went to business school and learned shorthand. (I'd already taken typing in high school.) I finished my shorthand studies on a Friday and the following Monday I had a job as a secretary at Fawcett Publications.
By 1954, I felt I was getting nowhere fast, and decided to apply for law school at the University of Miami, FL (since my family and I often spent winters in Miami Beach). My goal was to practice law in a private law firm, something I never thereafter did.
In my final year of law school, recruiters from the U.S. Department of Justice came to the school, and I was accepted for their program for Honor Law Graduates.
After graduation from law school, first in my class, I moved to Washington, D.C., intending to stay with the Justice Department for a few months before moving on to my goal: private practice. That was the start of a twenty-three-year career with a number of federal agencies. I subsequently worked for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD).
Through much of my career, I was looking for another job. From the age of ten, I had felt there was a purpose to my life, a mission I had to accomplish, and that I was not free as other girls and women were simply to marry, raise a family, and pursue happiness. This feeling arose from three factors in my life: I had been born only because my mother's favored abortionist was out of Berlin, my immediate family and I had escaped the Holocaust, and I was bright. I concluded that I had been saved to make a contribution to the world. But I had no idea what it was to be.
In 1963, as a volunteer with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), I testified before the House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor in favor of the Equal Pay Bill, which was subsequently passed. I assumed that was my first and last effort on behalf of women's rights--but I was wrong.
In October 1965, three months after it had commenced operations, I joined the EEOC as the first woman lawyer in its Office of the General Counsel--and found the role I was meant to play. The EEOC was charged with enforcement of a new law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. At that time (it was later expanded to cover discrimination based on mental or physical disabilities), Title VII prohibited discrimination by covered employers, employment agencies, and labor unions based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.
During its first year or so, by and large, the EEOC did not enforce the gender discrimination prohibitions of the Act. Most of the commissioners and staff had come to the agency to fight discrimination against African Americans and did not want the Commission's time and resources devoted to gender discrimination. Furthermore, the gender discrimination provisions raised more difficult questions of interpretation than did the other prohibitions of the Act.
The Commission's failure to implement the gender discrimination prohibitions of the Act caused me a great deal of grief and frustration. When Betty Friedan came to the Office of the General Counsel to interview the General Counsel and his deputy for a book she planned to write, I shared this frustration with her. I told her that what this country needed was an organization to fight for women like the NAACP fought for its constituency.
In June and October 1966, forty-nine men and women, of whom I was one, formed the National Organization for Women (NOW).
Thereafter, I became involved in an underground activity. I took to meeting privately at night in the Southwest Washington, D.C., apartment of Mary Eastwood, a Justice Department attorney and a co-founder of NOW, with her and two other government lawyers, Phineas Indritz and Caruthers Berger. At those meetings, I discussed the inaction of the Commission that I had witnessed during that day or week with regard to women's rights, and then we drafted letters from NOW to the Commission demanding that action be taken in those areas. To my amazement, no one at the Commission ever questioned how NOW had become privy to the Commission's deliberations.
As a result of pressure by NOW, the EEOC began to take seriously its mandate to eliminate gender discrimination in employment. It conducted hearings and began to issue interpretations and decisions implementing women's rights. I drafted one of the Commission's earliest Digests of Legal Interpretations, its first Guidelines on Pregnancy and Childbirth, and the EEOC's first decision finding that airlines violated Title VII when they grounded or terminated stewardesses on marriage or reaching the age of thirty-two or thirty-five.
I also became a founder of WEAL (Women's Equity Action League) and FEW (Federally Employed Women) and a charter member of VFA (Veteran Feminists of America).
While I was at the EEOC, when I was forty-two years old, I married, and when I was 43½, I gave birth to my daughter. Subsequently, I divorced and raised my daughter as a single mother.
I left the Commission in 1973 and in the ensuing years became the highest-paid woman employee at the headquarters of two leading corporations: GTE Service Corporation in Stamford, Connecticut, and TRW Inc. in Cleveland, Ohio.
In 1990, I learned I had breast cancer. I had a mastectomy and simultaneous silicone breast implant. Thereafter, I went on the board of the American Cancer Society (ACS) for the District of Columbia, traveled to Israel and China to look into the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer in those countries, and reported on my findings to ACS and in speeches.
In 2005, I discovered that my breast implant had ruptured; I had it removed and replaced with a saline breast implant. Subsequently, I wrote an article on breast implant ruptures and leaks to let the millions of women with implants know that implants have limited life spans.
In 1996, at a ceremony honoring the founders of NOW, Betty Friedan presented me with the VFA Medal of Honor. I was honored by VFA again at a June 2008 program at the Harvard Club in NYC as one of thirty-six feminist lawyers who made significant contributions to women's rights in the 1963-1975 time period.
In 2000, I was inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame and was included in the National Gallery of Prominent Refugees established by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. I was also one of seventy-four women included by the Jewish Women's Archive in an online exhibit of Jewish American women who contributed to women's rights. (jwa.org/feminism).
I have lectured and written extensively in this country and abroad on women's rights. My testimony was presented to a Select Committee of the House of Lords when England was considering the passage of legislation prohibiting gender discrimination in employment, which legislation was subsequently passed, and I was a consultant to the Women's Department and the Department of Labour for the Province of Ontario when Ontario was considering the passage of such legislation, which legislation was also subsequently passed.
I have traveled as an "American specialist" on women's rights for the then-US Information Agency (USIA) to France, Germany, Spain, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia, giving talks and meeting with women and representatives of labor, industry, academia, and the professions.
In 1993, I retired and for over a year I went through a difficult period wondering what to do with the rest of my life. Eventually, I wrote my memoir, Eat First--You Don't Know What They'll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter, and moved to Sarasota, FL.
I embarked on new careers as a writer, public speaker, and community and feminist activist. Currently, I am co-president of the Sarasota chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a member of the local chapter of NOW, a member of the program committee of the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, and the first and only honorary member of the Sarasota chapter of the Florida Association of Women Lawyers.
This June, at its annual national conference in Tampa, FL, NOW will present me with an award for being a co-founder and for my work at the EEOC.
I returned to Germany once since I left in 1933, as a speaker on women's rights for USIA in 1978. I plan to go again for a week this September, at the invitation of the German government.
After that, I plan to spend several days in Antwerp as the guest of the staff of the Red Star Line Museum. That museum, dedicated to the Red Star Line and due to open in the spring of 2013, will have a permanent exhibit about me and my family. This will be my first time back in Antwerp since I left in 1934.
For further information, please see my website at http://www.erraticimpact.com/fuentes
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