Last Night I saw Gloria Steinman speak at Wellesley College, the lecture was hosted by Students for Reproductive Rights. She was awe-inspiring and thought-provoking; my brain has been buzzing ever since. As I watched her speak, and then field questions from the audience, I physically felt her profound intelligence and was struck by the history in which she participated as well as the great history that she has made!! She spoke of so many compelling issues last night, however right nowI am going to highlight a few points that stirred my interest.
First, she spoke of the election and how great it was to have broadened our pool from which we choose our president. She pointed out that in the past our presidential candidates were coming from only 6% of the population ~ I found this a shocking statistic. “This country can no longer afford to choose our leaders from a talent pool limited by sex, race, money, powerful fathers and paper degrees.” (Women Are Never Front-Runners .Gloria Steinman. Op-ed page. New York Times published January 8, 2008) Here is the link to the entire op-ed piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/08/opinion/08steinem.html?_r=1&em&ex=1200027600&en=5b91a543afd99fcb&ei=5087%0A&oref=slogin
She spoke of how the indigenous people of this country worked with nature to control their reproductive health before the Europeans arrived. That they would space out their children – seeing the importance of having more adults than children so to give the children a loving and safe environment in which to strive. She said how women spoke of having the children 6 years apart so that the older child could help and for the health and freedom of the mother.
Health care was addressed and it was pointed out that in this country there is no financial incentive to keep people healthy – the big drug companies and other corporations are making loads of money off the sick.
She spoke of how we still live in a society that devalues and demeans women. This hit a nerve – as a woman and a mother of 2 daughters. It reminded me of another editorial piece of the New York Times, Bob Herbert’s Oct. 16 column of 2006, “Why Aren’t We Shocked?.“ http://select.nytimes.com/2006/10/16/opinion/16herbert.html?ex=1161144000&en=e5b51c95fa2a4365&ei=5121
It was written after the tragic shooting in the Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania. He spoke to how crimes against women and girls are basically acceptable in our country… “we have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that violence against females is more or less to be expected. Stories about the rape, murder and mutilation of women and girls are staples of the news, as familiar to us as weather forecasts.” (Why Aren’t We Shocked? .Bob Herbert. editorial page. New York Times published October 16, 2006). I wanted to ask Ms. Steinman how do we address this issue … when I feel that woman are being degraded on so many fronts, especially in entertainment & advertisements. I wonder how women are supposed to feel strong and powerful when they are made to constantly worry about their appearance, their ‘make-up’, their figure, their wardrobe, etc. I wonder how a woman is to stand strong when wearing fashionable high heel?! Ms. Steinman spoke a lot about it is our right to make choices – like high heels- but we need to know if we really are making the choice for what is best for us or are there other influences?!
Needless to say I left this lecture quite agitated yet inspired. I was in a room full of educated women of all of ages listening to this feminist icon…listening, learning and absorbing her lessons and her wisdom. That alone can give one a reason to be more optimistic. Also that Gloria Steinman is out there battling for us women is another reason to feel hopeful. Thank you Ms. Steinman & peace.