Gloria Steinem on Name-Calling, Progress and the Presidential Race

Oct 10, 2016

It would be hard to come up with a person more connected with the feminist movement of the late 60s and early 70s than Gloria Steinem.  Now in her eighties, the founder of Ms. Magazine is still speaking out on issues of equality. As co-founder of the Women’s Media Center, she also works towards that organization’s more specific goal of making “women visible and powerful in the media.” In this River to River interview, Steinem discusses how far the movement has come in more than a half century of fighting for equal rights.

"I didn't walk around saying thank you for the vote, I got mad because of what was happening to me, and that's what young women are doing, too."

On how gender has played a part in the 2016 Election

"There really couldn't be a more gender divided two candidates, could there? [laughs] I mean, it's quite incredible. He's shamelessly diminishing of women, and she is proudly supportive of women. It's very, very, very polarized and as a result we have not only the biggest racial divide in terms of who is favored as a candidate in the history of polling, but also the biggest gender divide."

On whether she's frustrated with young women taking her work for granted

"No! I'm so happy they do. Are you kidding me? Listen, gratitude never radicalized anybody. We all get mad and radicalized and activated by what's happening to us. So I'm delighted that they start from a higher place and then get mad that they are graduating in huge debt, for instance, yet on the average, a woman will make a million dollars less over a lifetime to pay it back, and if she's a woman of color, even less. So, you know, I didn't walk around saying thank you for the vote, I got mad because of what was happening to me, and that's what young women are doing, too."

On how rhetoric today compares to that in the 1960s

"Oh it's infinitely better. At that time we didn't have terms like 'battered women,; 'domestic violence,' you know, it was just called 'life.' There were no terms for it;  there were no police procedures. In the case of domestic violence, police thought that success was measured by getting the victim back with the criminal. You know, we've come a huge, huge, huge distance, and I am so inspired to see young women and young men who are so far ahead in terms of numbers and understanding."

Steinem will be speaking at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11, in Stephens Auditorium at Iowa State University. [Note: Steinem's interview was recorded before news broke about Donald Trump's 2005 comments, in which he talked about groping women.]