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1969-70 FOL



Peace-Love

Thank You, Jane
By Solon
May 21, 2005, 3:43pm

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Jane Fonda came to the Tattered Cover Lodo bookstore in Denver, Colorado on Monday, May 16 to promote her autobiography "My Life So Far". The atmosphere leading up to the event was slightly tense since many people had heard about the incident in the Kansas City bookstore where a man had spit on her over her stand on Viet Nam. The timing was difficult too, as it took place on a Monday morning. At the same time her new movie had just opened the previous weekend and was a leader at the box office in spite of poor reviews.

But the day was warm and clear and the line for tickets to her remarks had started forming early. Anyone who desired could have gotten at least a book signed by her though not a seat in the packed room to hear her speak and answer questions.

There were a few protestors outside the building with signs saying "Shame on Jane" but inside the enthusiastic crowd of 200 or more people surrounded her with love and respect. Women out numbered men by about three to one. The age of the crowd probably averaged 45-55 though some were obviously teenagers. One lady came because her 15 years old son who she home schooled wanted to go. Another man perhaps in his seventies remarked that he had loved her for over forty years. But mostly the hall was filled with women who appreciated her life as a worker for women's causes, an activist, a movie star, a mother, a person who could re-invent herself successfully and a positive image of a woman who had courage to live life on a world stage, mistakes and all.

Ms Fonda appeared surprisingly on time or even a minute before noon and began speaking about the reason for the book. (Quickly she introduced her new dog which she described as very young and insecure, a very cute small dark and white cuddly creature. The dog did not stay in the carrying satchel but she held it while speaking.) When she turned 59 she decided to make a short film about her life at 60 which morphed into the book after thinking that perhaps her struggles could be helpful to others. Initially she had asked help from her daughter, a filmmaker who replied that she should just have a chameleon crawl across the screen. Ouch! This type of honesty set the tone for her words and the questions and answers to follow.

The remarks were brief and well received but the enthusiasm increased during the more lengthy question and answer period.

Most of the questions were from women and related to either her previous interviews about the books contents or her very public life so far. But this was not a typical "Oprah" audience; most asked real questions and listened attentively to the answers. On suicide (her mother had committed suicide when she was 12) Ms. Fonda said that you can't blame yourself and that it really is everyone's right to end his or her life their way. On young girls eating disorders (she had it until over forty) she suggested that it was very important to be a good role model and not be so publicly involved in losing weight or self image as a parent. On relationships (three failed marriages) she said as a woman one could not fold into the man or the relationship as she had done but that one had to learn to be a full person. Asked to identify the heroes or people that had most influenced her, Jane replied that she had to come to her own understanding and be herself before she could be open to others. But then she did mention some women who she thought were admirable like Eve Ensler who wrote the Vagina Monologues.

One man asked her about Viet Nam, having prefaced the question with his own observation that during the sixties he did not agree with her position but over time he came to both understand it and respect it. She repeated the fact that she did not pose for the famous photo in North Viet Nam on an anti-aircraft battery knowingly, but regretted doing it and thought it was a mistake that she would have to live with for the rest of her life. And she also mentioned two other items of interest in this regard, the one that she had been told that the US was bombing dams in the North of Vietnam which would have resulted in the death of two hundred thousand people and she was trying to publicize that, thus the reason for the trip. Apparently the bombing stopped shortly after her visit and if she had been part of that decision then she was grateful. The other issue she brought up was that at that time she was very involved in activities supporting servicemen and that she thought she knew more about them than even the most informed citizens. Unfortunately this was lost in the flurry of criticism which continues to this day.

Politics was another theme of the questions as first a woman congratulated her on her stand against war and then one older man asked her what he as a lifelong republican could do to regain his party. Her answer - "Hold them to Christian values", on the one hand a rather simplistic response but also a very incisive observation. Ms. Fonda also touched upon the fact that the Iraq war was sapping the economy and that if something was important then people had to support it themselves.

What does she do- From an interview on the web here.
Ten years ago, I founded the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention and the Jane Fonda Center at Emery School of Medicine. We work with poor families, children, and those who work with adolescents, to try to provide young people with hope. Hope is the best contraceptive. If young people can see a future for themselves, they would be more motivated not to engage in risky behavior, like getting pregnant, HIV/AIDS, getting into drugs and things like that. We encourage them to stay in school and do well. We teach [young] parents how to be better parents-we teach 12-, 13-, 14-year-old mothers, young girls who have babies. Of all the industrialized countries, we have the highest rate of teen pregnancy, AIDS, abortions. In Europe and in the Netherlands in particular, kids are just as sexually active, but because contraception and condoms are viewed as health issues, it's out there. It's spoken about. There's no embarrassment. Kids know how to take care of themselves. That's how we should be. But we're not.

Also Ms. Fonda mentioned that she was attending a benefit upstairs after the book signing for NARF (Native American Rights Fund) and their work (Cobell v. Norton1) in suing the Federal government for redress over the missing billions for mineral, oil and gas usage in Indian trust accounts.

The entire event proved to be a strange kind of revelation of the vulnerability, intelligence and honesty of a very informed, articulate and kind public person. Jane Fonda shared her life and mistakes, her problems and insecurities and her triumphs with the crowd of strangers. But the audience could relate to her, too, because she had faced their problems - a difficult father, a suicide, eating disorders, difficult relationships, raising a family. And she had found her center and come to terms with her self and her spirit and come out the other side, an independent person dedicated to making a difference for women and the world.

The event was over all too soon. People congregated in the hall ways, bathrooms and book stacks talking about the experience and sharing their regard for the small older woman who made them all feel better about who they were and who they could become. There was a mixture of hope and optimism coupled with a satisfaction that at least this one public figure somewhat from the past was as they had hoped, a real true person.



In leaving the room while Ms. Fonda was signing a book she responded to an attractive woman with white shimmering hair- "You are a free spirit", while the older man with the woman was heard to say quietly - "I just want to thank you for your stance on Viet Nam. I was a conscientious objector back then and it meant a lot to people like me that you stood up." She took the mans hand and looked at the woman, kindred spirits.

Thank You, Jane. For Everything!

Peace

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