A Life in the Spotlight

Jane Fonda

At UCSB’s Campbell Hall, Monday, May 1.

Reviewed by Felicia M. Tomasko

Even though last Monday was a day of protest, Campbell Hall was
still filled with people holding Jane Fonda’s newly published
autobiography, My Life So Far, balanced on their laps. Fonda walked
on stage to rumbling applause; she was followed by her small white
dog, Thulia, who is keeping Fonda company while on tour.

Arriving in Santa Barbara, Fonda was on familiar land, since the
Laurel Springs Camp in Painted Cave was a summer haunt of her
family and friends for 15 years. Fonda began the evening’s spirited
talk by reminiscing about the kids who came to camp — including a
group of tough boys whose notions of manhood and bravery were
altered by spending the summer with a young boy who couldn’t walk,
but found satisfaction negotiating the swimming pool.

Fonda also commented on another meaningful encounter when Lulu,
a young girl she later adopted, said that the camp represented the
first time in her life that she met people who thought about the
future. “It was a transformative statement,” said Fonda. “People
who think about the future don’t engage in risky behavior.”

Throughout, Fonda talked about her lifetime of activism and
mentioned people in the audience, including the about-to-retire
Professor Dick Flacks. She spurred on the audience, announcing to
applause that what is needed in our society today is to put the
pressure for change on the government rather than focus on the name
or party in office.

Ranging from the political to the personal, Fonda reflected on
her choices and her relationships, telling the story of how she
realized at age 60, entering the third act of her life, that she
had never really had an intimate relationship. She described this
as the situation where two whole, actualized people care for each
other without leaving their selves behind. Embracing the self was a
theme she revisited frequently, also in the context of how kids are
socialized, which takes “aim at girls’ voices and takes aim at
boys’ hearts.”

Fonda felt she was reclaiming her voice and heart, and exhorted
the audience to do the same with themselves and their children, as
she said so much is now at stake. “We have never had real radicals
running the country.” But Fonda insisted there is a solution,
personally as well as politically. “If the planet is going to
survive, women have to lead the way, not because we are morally
superior, but because we don’t have our manhood to prove.”

Login

Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.