So, I have to brag for a minute. Gloria Steinem is coming to speak at my school in March. Yes, the Gloria Steinem. Is coming to my school. To do a convocation speech. For free. If you can’t tell, I’m super stoked about this. Really, anyone in my position with my points of view would be.
Anyway — there is a point to my proud boasting; that is to say, this is going somewhere. Whilst having a freak out because the illustrious Gloria Steinem is coming to Oberlin, my friend asked me “Who is this person that you speak of?!” and I was all, “Ohmigod Gloria Steinem is only the hugest feminist figure ever!!!!” And yes, I had all of those exclamation points in my voice, too. So you know.
Point is, Gloria Steinem is, to me, a really big deal. I have infinite amounts of respect for her — not just because she’s a feminist, but because of how she has really made use of her immense passion for issues of equality to make and inspire social change. You can say what you will about controversial statements she has made (there are definitely some that I disagree with!), but you cannot deny the extent to which she has mobilized and extended the feminist movement.
Anyway, Steinem recently spoke at Franklin and Marshall College and said something that I think is extremely important when considering the progress made thus far in gender equality. She made the claim that though many people feel that there female individuals are now on an equal level to that of males, there is still a long way to go.
It is true that there has been a significant amount of progress in recent years (though sometimes I really question that), and some might even say that we’ve reached a point – in the “Western World” at least – where women have the same rights as men.
But Steinem makes an extremely interesting and valid point that might not come to mind when thinking of feminism:
From a Lancaster, PA news outlet:
After all, many people now believe that a woman can do what a man can do, she said. The problem is that they don’t believe a man can do what a woman can do, such as raise children.
In fact, one of the biggest challenges facing future generations is that women still have two jobs: one inside the home and one outside the home, she said in an interview after her speech.
Female college students often ask her, “How can I combine a career and family?” but male college students don’t, she noted.
This statement is not only true, but also something that is not often considered as a pertinent gender-equality. Feminism isn’t just about making sure that women can achieve the same salaries as men. It’s about erasing the lines that define one gender from the other, the ones that persist in separating us according to our genitalia. It’s about making common concepts such as raising family pertinent to both women AND men. We can’t have women’s equality without having equality for the male gender as well.
Oh Gloria Steinem. I can’t wait to hear you say revolutionary things in person. I’m excited, bottom line.