Feminism is Alive and Well ... Even Sarah Palin Wants to Be One
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GLORIA STEINEM: It’s interesting to me because is Rush Limbaugh gonna call [Sarah Palin] a “feminazi” like he calls me? Obviously feminism is winning, otherwise these women wouldn’t be calling themselves feminists. So the truth of the matter is that, in public opinion polls more women consider themselves feminists than consider themselves Republicans, evangelicals, or even Democrats.
COURIC: I thought it was worth reminding people what the definition of feminism is because when I looked up it says that feminism is the “doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights equal to men.” Hard to argue with that, isn’t it?
STEINEM: Yeah, but it’s been demonized by the Rush Limbaughs of the world who say “feminazi” and so on. So if people go to the dictionary and see what it means, most folks agree. Men too.
JEHMU GREENE: And I think if you look at the Millennial Generation and what is so inspiring of the generations coming up is they are the most diverse, the most tolerant generation this country has ever seen. A lot of these issues around putting feminism in a silo in the way that Rush has tried and other folks have tried, are going to be pushed back by these younger generations.
COURIC: At the same time, don’t you feel like feminism the movement has lost a bit of steam? I didn’t find the statistics, but of course you all more than anyone, are familiar with young women of an early age basically eschewing the whole notion of feminism and not considering themselves feminists.
STEINEM: I agree the word feminism has been demonized, even though it has huge number of adherents. But if you say “women’s movement,” it’s 90 percent of young women versus about 70 percent of older women who say that they support it, so it’s actually more younger women than older women.
GREENE: And that is the power of social media. When you spend any time on Twitter or on Facebook, you see the level of connections and organizing that are happening. The medium is very attractive to women and I think allows us to, in this changing media landscape climate, to really use social media as a way of continuing to rebuild or continuing to build the movement. That’s where I think you’re getting those numbers as far as 90 percent of younger women who will engage and call themselves a part of the woman’s community, woman’s movement.
COURIC: So you think it’s a misconception that many young people don’t consider themselves feminists?
STEINEM: Yes. It’s part of the idea that the movement is over. The opposition first takes the form of “You can’t do that. It’s against biology, God, Freud, something. You can’t do that. It’s not necessary. It’s impossible.”
And then the second form of opposition is “Well, it used to be necessary, but it’s not anymore.” And we’re in that stage. So I think young women should sue for libel because they are so distorted in their real views by this idea that they don’t support their own equality.
COURIC: So you don’t think there’s any merit to the argument that feminism is out of step with modern American women? Because you hear that argument increasingly, as you know. I think it’s really been circulating for the last five to 10 years.
STEINEM: No. No, because I travel all the time so I’m preserved from that. Time magazine has I think declared feminism, the women’s movement, dead 27 times. So declaring us dead is part of the opposition, but actually it keeps growing and growing and growing in real terms.