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Monday, May 27, 2024
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Second-wave feminism leader Gloria Steinem spoke in Ward 1 on Tuesday.

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem delivers speech for Breastival

Gloria Steinem argued for the importance of the feminist movement in the keynote speech of the annual Breastival on Tuesday night.

She told the audience that filled Ward 1 that without respect for women, you cannot have respect for other races, ethnicities and religions.

“Without feminism, you can’t have democracy,” Ms. Steinem said in an interview.

In her speech, Steinem was open and candid with her audience, encouraging them to ask questions.

“[This room] is built like a hierarchy, hierarchy is built on patriarchy, patriarchy doesn’t work anywhere, anymore” she said.

KIRA KALUSH, SARAH PARNASS and LEIGH GIANGRECO / THE EAGLE
Steinem lamented that despite how far the feminist movement has come, many still demonize the word “feminism.” Like the word “socialism,” feminism can become a pejorative term, especially from critics on the right, Steinem said.

“Rush Limbaugh calls me a feminazi all the time,” she said. “However, I feel good about your generation … Many more women consider themselves feminists than in my generation. More women identify as feminists than Democrats, Republicans and Evangelicals.”

Steinem said she also encourages the use of alternative words for women who seek equality.

“Womanist is a great word,” she said. “Mujerista is a great word, I wish I spoke Spanish because I love the sound!”

Steinem emphasized that feminism is not an isolated movement. But in society and the media, sex and race are usually at odds with one another. Steinem noted that this was most evident in the 2008 presidential election, when the promise of the first black president and the first woman president created conflict.

“You cannot be a feminist without being an anti-racist,” she said. “In order to maintain a racist structure, you need some sort of a visible difference. In order to maintain and perpetuate a visible difference, you have to control the bodies of women as a means of reproduction.”

Some students asked if they should vote for a woman even if that woman does not have feminist viewpoints.

Steinem responding that feminism is not always based on biology and that sometimes men are better feminists.

“It’s not about getting a job for one woman, it’s about making life better and fairer for everybody,” she said.

news@theeagleonline.com

Who is Gloria Steinem?

• breast cancer survivor and a feminist activist. • one of the foremost leaders of the Women’s Liberation Movement during the 1970s. • founder the feminist magazine “Ms.” in 1972. • recently worked with Jane Fonda on the Women’s Media Center, a non-profit organization that works against sexism in the media. • continues to speak on civil rights issues internationally.


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