I was privileged to hear Gloria Steinem speak on Saturday. Her wisdom filled the room. Here are some snippets — not verbatim, but I hope I’ve captured things closely enough:
- We know that in domestic violence situations, the time around the escape is the most dangerous — the time when there’s a loss of control. In the public arena, there’s also danger at times when one party is losing control — there is danger now, but we won’t stop.
- Our country is profoundly affected by the notion that we are “the best” — even in areas where’s there’s evidence that it’s simply not true. We must fight “bestism”.
- We must move towards attributing value to caregiving.
- Look at family violence as linked to all violence. What would the world look like if one generation could be raised without violence in the home?
- Gratitude never radicalized anybody. Her experience differs from that of the suffragists and from the young women of today. Young women may not “get” the passion around the right to abortion — but she never went around saying “Thank you for the vote.” [Note: this talk was before the events of Saturday night.]
- The reason we are still fighting for reproductive rights is that it is the whole ball game — the root of control.
- Think of history “vertically” — who lived in this particular place and how did they live? Matrilineal cultures of the Native Americans controlled their own fertility as well as other aspects of the community.
- Let’s declare the last 500 years of patriarchy an experiment that has failed.
- There is no way to be a successful feminist without being anti-racist and vice versa. These inequities are intertwined and can only be uprooted together.
- Feminists, antiracists and LGBT activists have always come together — with the crux of sexuality as a form of expression challenging control, defending the principle of bodily integrity.
- In any movement we need people in jobs they cannot be fired from.
- Wish for a global series of meetings like AA — where those doing this work could check in, get support, and be re-energized.
This was more than a lecture — though the group was nearly 400 people, there was an extensive Q&A segment. During that, a member from the audience recommended Miami of Ohio’s work linking domestic violence to foreign policy issues, work that Steinem said she’d been unable to uncover in her numerous visits to campuses across the country.