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Conferences | Archives | Channels for Change '95 | Gloria Steinem Transcript

Gloria Steinem Chat Transcript

June 28, 1995 Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA

Wendie Bernstein Lash : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:05PM . . . [427 ]
Welcome to the Internet Roundtable. Our guest this afternoon is Gloria Steinem. Gloria is a feminist icon and avid activist and author. She is also co-founder and consulting editor for Ms. magazine, co-founder and writer for New York magazine, and author of many works,

Wendie Bernstein Lash : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:06PM . . . [426 ]
including her latest paperback release from Touchtone Books called "Moving Beyond Words." She is the founder of many groups and today we are speaking with Ms. Steinem at the WITI Channel for Change Conference in Santa Clara, California, where she was the keynote speaker.

Wendie Bernstein Lash : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:07PM . . . [427 ]
Ms. Steinem, it's a pleasure having you here today.

Gloria Steinem : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:07PM . . . [428 ]
It's a pleasure for me in every way except for the word "icon."

Wendie Bernstein Lash : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:07PM . . . [431 ]
When I think of the Feminist Movement, the name Gloria Steinem surfaces. You are such an inspiration to women who credit you for opening doors and breaking down barriers, and giving them choices their mothers didn't have 30 years ago. Could you tell us a little about the events and people in your life

Wendie Bernstein Lash : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:08PM . . . [431 ]
that brought you to becoming the outspoken voice for women's issues that you are?

Gloria Steinem : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:09PM . . . [433 ]
I feel the same gratitude to other women that you say some feel toward me. I was in my middle-thirties before I realized that the power structure based on gender was as serious as those based on class or race or sexuality. I had gone through many years feeling attracted to and identified with other

Gloria Steinem : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:10PM . . . [432 ]
social justice movements. I must have been part of almost every one, from the farm workers through civil rights. But it wasn't until feminist consciousness began to be explained by women in the late 1960's, that I realized I was also a member of a discriminated-against group, that there was a reason I

Gloria Steinem : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:11PM . . . [434 ]
felt a lack of identity. And it was like a big lightbulb coming onto make sense of my life. Up until that time I had never spoken in public. I was much too fearful to do that. I had been working as a writer, but writing imitatively. And when I tried to write about this new realization,

Gloria Steinem : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:12PM . . . [434 ]
magazines didn't want it. They said, "If we publish an article about women aren't equal, we'll have to publish another one about they are equal". So I found myself going out to speak because it was the only way I could talk about this revelation. I was still afraid to go and speak by myself, so I went with a friend, Dorothy Pitman Hughes.

Gloria Steinem : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:13PM . . . [435 ]
She's a black woman and childcare pioneer. And for the next few years we wandered the country speaking and listening. So I feel I learned and continue to learn from other women, and really reporting what other women

Gloria Steinem : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:13PM . . . [438 ]
are saying and doing and things like that. And I've been traveling and writing in this way ever since.

Wendie Bernstein Lash : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:14PM . . . [437 ]
There seems to be a bit more apathy in the women's movement these days. By that I mean less rallies, less activism in people that are involved. Do you think that is because we've received some advances or are afraid to push higher, or is there some other explanation?

Wendie Bernstein Lash : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:14PM . . . [438 ]

Gloria Steinem : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:14PM . . . [439 ]
I think there is another explanation, which is that each issue goes through a process. First it gets a name. It's important to remember that issues like battered women, displaced homemakers, sexual harassment used to be just called "life."

Gloria Steinem : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:16PM . . . [441 ]
Then people speak out about it. Then there are demonstrations and public events. Then there's an attempt to change the legal process and others to create organization, legislation, whatever is necessary to remedy the problem. This process still goes on, so you still see newer issues going through the naming and speak-out process. But a lot of them are now accepted as issues and are past that stage.

Gloria Steinem : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:16PM . . . [441 ]
So I'm not sure if it's fair to say there's less enthusiasm. There are ,still a lot of demonstrations in Washington etc., and there are still groups like the Gorilla Girls. I love the Gorilla Girls. They are anonymous women in the art world who put on gorilla heads

Gloria Steinem : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:18PM . . . [443 ]
so no one knows who they are, and demonstrate against the Museum of Modern Art for being..."MONA is a female impersonator" is one of their slogans. They do wonderful posters. They're still the same spirit as the olden days, the late 60's when WITCH, Women's International Terrorist Conspiracy in Hell, used to hex Wallstreet.

Gloria Steinem : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:19PM . . . [443 ]
The difference is that all the different parts of the women's movement are not as far from the general culture as it used to be. And they're more diverse. It used to be 10 crazy feminists. Now there are many more.

Wendie Bernstein Lash : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:19PM . . . [444 ]
There is a trend in U.S. politics towards conservatism, and many of the issues associated with the Feminist Movement are more closely associated with the Democratic political agenda. Are you concerned about this trend, and do you have suggestions?

Gloria Steinem : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:20PM . . . [446 ]
I am very concerned about this trend which is not a majority trend in the country. At the most it's 20 or 30% in public opinion polls. But since only 40% of eligible voters vote and 90% of right-wing groups vote, it gets a disproportionate power.

Wendie Bernstein Lash : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:21PM . . . [448 ]
I'd like to remind everyone that our guest is Gloria Steinem. We are LIVE from the WITI Channels for Change Conference in Santa Clara. Gloria's latest paperback book, "Moving Beyond Words", is published by Touchtone Press, and now we'd like to take some questions from the audience.

Roundtable Moderator@156.151.3.4: . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:21PM PDT (-0800 GMT). . . [452 ]
What do you think about the current division in the feminist movement? For example, Suzanna Hoff Sommers and Camille Paglia? Do you think they're a serious threat to feminism as you have known it? Thanks! - Admirer in Indiana (question from the audience)

Gloria Steinem : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:23PM . . . [451 ]
I don't think that Christina Hoff Summers and Paglia represent a split in the Feminist Movement. I think the Feminist Movement now has people who instead of saying, "I'm not a feminist but..." say "I am a feminist but...", just as other social justice movements have. They are the Clarence Thomas of the Feminist Movement.

Roundtable Moderator@156.151.3.4: . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:23PM PDT (-0800 GMT). . . [452 ]
Gloria, in your talk today at the WITI conference you said that technology itself is morally neutral. This is only true, surely, in its purest sense. What about GUNS -- are they morally neutral? Isn't there some influence in WHAT we choose to develop ie. Isn't there some moral issues in the directions we develop in? (question from the audience)

Gloria Steinem : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:24PM . . . [454 ]
Yes, there are definitely moral issues. But those issues...and I agree that there's a moral issue in the choice of the technology that we develop. But I meant that the use of technology contains the greater moral statement.

Gloria Steinem : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:25PM . . . [455 ]
For instance, if a family on a Native American reservation uses a gun for subsistence hunting in the traditional Native American way, which includes apologizing to the spirit of the animal they killed to sustain themselves, that gun acquires a different moral aura than a gun used

Gloria Steinem : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:27PM . . . [457 ]
for aggression or an entire meat butchering establishment. But I do very much think we should stop developing technology simply because it's possible, and begin to always ask is this for the good of human kind and the environment. That's not a simple question, we won't always agree, but right now we're not even asking.

Roundtable Moderator@156.151.3.4: . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:27PM PDT (-0800 GMT). . . [458 ]
One of the many benefits of the Women's Movement that has benefited me personally is the ability to look at the world and my gender through the lens of a woman. Having said that, one thing that concerns me as an unexpected outcome of the movement, is the decay of "romance" among the young...especially women. Do you agree with my observation and if so, would you comment please? (question from the audience)

Gloria Steinem : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:28PM . . . [459 ]
I'm not so upset by the decline of romance because I think love is when you want what is best for the other person, but romance is when you want the other person. To me, romance is two incomplete people looking for the rest of

Gloria Steinem : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:29PM . . . [460 ]
themselves in each other. It's very intense but doomed because no one can supply the rest of yourself. However, when the balance of power is more equal, perhaps romance will come back in a less harmful form as the most intense form of curiosity.

Wendie Bernstein Lash : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:30PM . . . [464 ]
That's all we have time for. Our guest has been Gloria Steinem. Thank you, Gloria for being with us for this brief period of time.

Gloria Steinem : . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:30PM . . . [464 ]
Thank you for this rare experience.

Roundtable Moderator@156.151.3.4: . . . . Wed, Jun 28, 3:30PM PDT (-0800 GMT). . . [465 ]
Thanks for coming! Next week's Internet Roundtable will be at our usual time of 7PM Pacific Daylight Time (-0800 GMT). You can get more information about the Internet Roundtable Society here: button



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