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Feminism is Alive and Well ... Even Sarah Palin Wants to Be One

Gloria Steinem, grande dame of the feminist movement, and Jehmu Greene, Women's Media Center director, discuss the state of feminism with Katie Couric.

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STEINEM: And that’s really the question. And it’s not always easy to figure out. But it’s very important we tune into ourselves to find the inner authority to say what it is I really want and then do it. I must say there is one advantage of being a member of the wrong group ‐- which we all are here ‐- which is that nothing you do is exactly right, this frees you to do whatever you want. Because you really come to the conclusion that there is no right way for the wrong group. If you know what I mean. And therefore for us to be, to have some sort of self authority, why not? Why not?

COURIC: We had a Twitter question that was kind of along these lines. Bobby Rivers TV tweets, “I feel that shows like 'The Bachelorette' are a whoopee cushion on the seat of the feminist movement.”

STEINEM: Haha. Say that again.

COURIC: “I feel that shows like 'The Bachelorette' are a whoopee cushion on the seat of the feminist movement.” Gloria’s opinion on that?

STEINEM: You know the shows are incredibly stupid but what is most offensive about them is that it’s not equal opportunity stupidity.

COURIC: Well they have “The Bachelor” too.

STEINEM: I know, but there are many more women competing for the handsome, rich guy than there are men competing for a woman on these shows.

COURIC: Is that true? I don’t know the numbers.

GREENE: Oh yes. By far.

STEINEM: By far. So I have a kind of motto. Which is… You probably can’t say it on…

COURIC: It’s a webshow Gloria. Go for it. Unless it’s super risqué.

STEINEM: Well it starts with “s” … It's always better if it’s equally divided. It’s still a problem, but if it’s equally divided, it’s at least not a political problem.

COURIC: All right, you’re gonna have to explain that to me later. I can’t believe, Gloria, that you’re 76 years old.

STEINEM: Yes, I can’t believe it either.

The Feminist Movement Going Forward

COURIC: As you look back on your goals for the feminist movement, on what you really wanted for girls and women in this country, how do you feel about where we are today?

STEINEM: Because I travel much of the time, I have the opportunity to see how far along we are. To hear women, and men too, telling me their stories and how much their lives have changed and so I’m just constantly nourished by that.

I do think that many of us underestimated the force of the opposition. I kind of thought growing up that we had a democracy and if we got a majority support for issues we would win the issues, which turns out not to be the case, because we’ve had majority support for issues for a long time and we don’t have them embedded in our government. You know sometimes people ask me “What are you most proud of in your life?” And I always say I haven’t done it yet. I mean I’m living in the future actually. I’m encouraged by Jehmu. I’m encouraged by you. You will be here. You will be here when I’m not. And that feels good.

COURIC: What are you most disappointed about?

STEINEM: I think that we haven’t made a dent, as you see in that article’s title “The End of Men,” in the idea that somebody has to win. We’re still living in an “either/or” culture, not in an “and” culture. We’re still ranking instead of linking. We still have a sort of hierarchical view of life instead of a circle. And actually for most of human history, we’ve lived the other way. It’s been about linking, not ranking. The circle was the paradigm of society.

 
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