Gloria Steinem

Thinking in Public in a Networked World – March 28, 2016

Gloria Steinem
March 28, 2016— Northampton, Massachusetts
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Steinem delivered this Presidential Colloquium at her alma mater.

I have to say that in this hall, I will always be an 18- or 19- or 20-year-old person.

We used to have chapel once a week. You don't remember those days, but you had to be here at something like eight in the morning. I was always in my pajamas with a slicker over it. That was one person who's still here with me. Tap dancing on this stage also at a Rally Day Show was another person.

So I don't know what's gonna come out tonight. I mean... (laughing)

But I thank you all so much for inviting me back to this place where I feel like one of those nested Russian dolls, you know. I think we all feel that way, right? We have our very young self inside us, a little older, a little older, but the beginning self, the true self in a way, is always still there.

And I thank you especially for the theme, Thinking in Public in a Networked World: The Challenges and Responsibilities of Public Discourse. I still call it talk, you know. I come from Toledo, you know. So discourse is not a thing I say, OK.

Reflecting the common theme, Thinking in Public in the Networked World. And I marveled at that title, because in fact at the end of this talk I'm going to tell you my only recent episode with being Twittered globally as a result of saying, of fucking up in public basically. (laughing)

But it's not that important, okay. So I'm going to talk about other things first.

And one is how much my being here and speaking in public, as you can see in this book about being on the road, is itself something that happened to me much later in life.

First I was a dancer, then I was a writer. And what that means is you don't wanna talk. So, it still happens to me that I lose all my saliva. Does that happen to you? Each tooth gets a little angora sweater on it. Because it has to do with nervousness about speaking in public.

And if it had not been for the fact that in the beginning of the women's movement it seemed impossible to publish what I thought was exploding in the world and the editors I had been working for said things like, "Well yes, you could write an article about women being equal but we would have to publish one right next to it saying they're not equal in order to be objective." You can't make this stuff up.

So after enough of that, I finally asked a dear friend of mine who was everything I was not. She was married, she had children, she ran a child care center, she was African American. You know, I thought, you know, the two of us together – and most important, she was fearless and a great public speaker.

And if it hadn't been for my inability to get something published, I wouldn't ever, ever, ever have dared to do what I'm doing right now.

It ended up being a substantial portion of my life, because what I discovered was and is that something happens when we are together in a room like this with all five senses, that cannot happen on the printed page – as much as I love books – that cannot happen on a screen, that only happens when we can exercise all of our senses and empathize with each other.

It turns out that according to my neurologist friend, we only produce oxytocin – the famous tend-and-befriend hormone, right, that allows us to not just understand and know, but to empathize with each other – we only produce oxytocin when we are together with all five senses.

So for the last 40 years, I've had the gift of being in rooms like this and the best part is not when it's a one-way street like now, but when it is a two-way street and as much of a circle as possible.

So I'm looking forward to our time of talking in a little bit and I hope you will feel free, not just to ask questions but to give us answers – we could all use some – to make organizing announcements of any upcoming, you know, outrageous meeting or that you think we should know about, and hopefully, to turn this into as much of a circle as we can.

Because there are so many of us in meetings like this, we end up looking at each other's backs. Me looking at you. This is a hierarchical structure, hierarchy is based on patriarchy, patriarchy doesn't work anywhere anymore. (applause)

Now, having said that, I do not want for a moment to neglect the miracle of our communicative ability of all of our, unheard of when I was sitting in these seats, ability to cross boundaries, to find each other, to get information instantly, to create community, you know, across worlds. It is absolutely crucial, magical and irreplaceable. And I do not mean for a moment to underestimate how important that is. I just don't want us to give up on all five senses. I just want us to remember you can't raise a baby on the web.

And to think about the limitations of technology as well as the miracle of technology. Yes, we can cross boundaries and distance and we can get information in safety, which is often especially important for women in this world. Incredible research, we can find allies. You know it is all, it is all positive, very, very positive.

But it is also true that we can't empathize. And that I think is part of the reason that we are able to be more negative and more hostile on the web than we would otherwise be. It's so important that we remember that. It's also true that we cannot, we cannot connect in the same way. And we also must look for signs of addiction because we get addicted to sitting there and getting our information in that way.

But sometimes I think simple things would help. For instance, putting three dots after every Twitter. Context. Wilma Mankiller always said context is everything. With words we don't know. Just three dots after a Twitter would help us. It is not a haiku, it is a Twitter.

So I think together tonight perhaps we can think of ways of bridging this gap between technology and humanity.

I am so pleased that this era is seeing so much activism among young women. I can't begin to tell you how much more activist and aware this generation and more generations has become than when we began.

Do not have too much respect for the past. We were like 12 crazy ladies. And quite naïve and quite idealistic and everything that I hope is still with us. But still, we were a very, very small group.

Now this movement is a majority in this country. There is a changed consciousness now. Every single issue that we care about, whether it is reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right, whether it is the clear understanding that racism and sexism and class and caste are all intertwined – you cannot possibly uproot one without uprooting all of the others at the same time. After all, you can't maintain the division into the future unless you control reproduction and that means controlling women's bodies.

It is, I think we understand much better now how all of the movements that we love are connected. It made sense, too, that they arose individually. That's what happens when you've been invisible. You rise up, you name yourself. You say, these are my experiences. This is my story. Everybody has to tell their story.

And so movements have grown up in a time when declaring independence was absolutely crucial. I think now we have arrived at a time in which we can declare interdependence and see that all of our movements are absolutely connected. And that is very, very precious and very necessary, but it is not happening nearly enough.

Whether it is on something very simple like the fact that when we talk about economic stimulus, we have yet to talk about equal pay for women of all races and all groups. Would be the greatest economic stimulus that we could possibly have. (applause) It would put something like $200 billion more into the economy every year. And those women are not gonna put it in a Swiss bank account. No, they are going to spend it.

It means that there would be less of a burden on social services, because the poorest children are in single-parent households and usually that means the female parent and there would be less need for social services. That it is absolutely a win-win situation.

Perhaps for everybody except Walmart, that is currently consenting to pay $10 an hour to its employees. I think they started out at $8, didn't they? The employees wanted $15. The family is making $1,800,000 every hour. And the family has more money than the entire bottom third of the United States. And this is accumulated you know, because of unequal pay.

It's also true of everything related to violence. For instance, the rate of domestic abuse in police forces across the country is four times that of the population at large. And we know that violence in the household is the root normalization and patterning of violence everywhere else.

If Treyvon Martin had not met a man who had been habitually violent to women, he might still be alive. If we had allowed the evidence against Zimmerman of his violence against women into court he might have been convicted. These things are connected and yet we don't connect them.

It is also true in a big global way because it happens that the biggest indicator of whether a country will be violent within itself in its streets, or whether it will use military violence against another country is actually not poverty or access to natural resources or religion or even degree of democracy. It's violence against females.

Not because female life is any more important than male life or any more valuable, no. But because it's what we tend to see first in our lives – violence, control – because of the polarized roles of masculine and feminine, which are all about controlling reproduction, controlling women's bodies.

Sometimes I think the whole world is divided into two – those who divide the world into two and those who don't.

But those roles normalize control and dominance and violence the earliest, and therefore make it seem okay that groups by ethnicity or race or any other measure are also considered to have been born one to dominate the other. And it does normalize violence.

So you know, it's high time that we made the connections across and among movements, and no longer looked at them as if they were in silos, like this, which is still the way, for the most part…. I know that this group is connecting them, but they are still not connected in the world as they should be.

Let's see, do I have time to...

I thought that I would also be giving…. You know, I wasn't going to do this until I saw this wonderful title, Thinking in Public in a Networked World. But that I should also explain that if I had said what people think I said, I would be mad at me, too.

But I think that when we speak out in a networked world, kind of very odd things can happen, right. So this, this is to say that…the famous sentence – what was it, wait a minute, I wrote it down someplace – that when you're young you go where the boys are and the boys are with Bernie.

OK, I would just like to explain that this was in response to a host who was belittling young women's activism. And I was assuring him that young women are very active and mad as hell about what's happening to them, especially graduating in debt, as young men are, too, but young women are averaging a million dollars less over their work life to pay it back.

And then I said and also where the boys are, they think that's…where when you're young you think that's where the power is – because it literally seems that – and it takes longer to realize that if women act together you can have power.

But right at the end there, right in the middle, he said, "Well if I said that, people would be very angry at me." And I'm sitting there saying, "No, no," you know. And then I realized that he's made it sexual and so now I say, "But how well do you know me?" And he says, "Not well enough."

You can't make this stuff up.

And the irony was that he went on to a larger Islamophobia.

Did any of you actually see the whole thing? Your class did, oh good, okay. Because the interesting thing is that when I, you know, went to the sort of gathering after the show which was fine, you know. And then I… Well, it was sort of….

I have to say for myself, I would like to say for myself that I did get mad in the portion of the show that was only online because there was another woman on the show who I admired very much and I said you know how much I admired her. And it was Erin Brockovich, the great environmentalist. Right?

And we hadn't. (applause) We hadn't seen each other, we hadn't met each other before. So I was saying how glad I was to meet her and how much I admired her. And she was saying, well I'm glad to meet you. And he said, why don't you two get a room? So I said, I got mad and I said, you wanna watch? But the truth is I only got mad on her behalf. Isn't it interesting that we can get mad on somebody else's behalf and we don't get mad on our own, right?

So, you know, I thought that nothing at all was amiss. And this is a function of thinking in public in a networked world. I went home on the red-eye. I got up in the morning and I got a phone call from a friend in the feminist world who was saying, you must call this woman who is a reputation manager. And I said, why? And she said, because it's all over the web, there's this Twitter that's all over the web, and it's going to lose the New Hampshire primary for Hillary.

That's an incredible phone call to get up to in the morning, I have to say.

And you know I, I realized that you know, Hillary is kind of like the Bermuda Triangle from a press point of view. If you get next to her, you know, incredible things happen. But I, I still couldn't quite believe that this was, you know, going to have such impact. But it kept going and going and going because I was thinking in public in a networked world, right? It just kept on and on and on.

And then it got combined with Madeleine Albright who for 30 years has been saying, there's a special place in hell for women who don't support other women. And I have such empathy for her, because what she meant by that is that…. She was then the U.S. representative to the UN and the idea was that no woman on top helped women on the bottom. And that's what she meant, you know.

But this got interpreted as meaning that we were trying to force women, especially young women, to support Hillary or we were denigrating somehow young women if they didn't, you know. And I kept saying, you know, that we're not voting on biology, you know. Sarah Palin, I just – Exhibit A, Sarah Palin. (laughter and applause)

And then I discovered that I was trending. Now it's not the first time that I've trended, but it's the first time that I've trended in a bad way. And suddenly there were pieces in the New York Times and in the Washington Post and I could tell... You can sort of tell who your friends are, because some people were standing up in Cosmo and the Chicago Trib and the New York Times and saying, no, why you're wrong about what Gloria said and so on. But that was, you know, much smaller than the other stuff.

And it became the reason for declaring a generation gap. Really. I mean I could give you all these, that was the reason. Fourteen words, I would like to say, 14 words of an incomplete sentence were the reason for declaring a generation gap.

The only bright light was that because he had launched into his Islamophobic speech right afterwards, I got nice mail from Muslim women saying, thanking me for supporting their agency and the fact that they were perfectly capable of speaking up for themselves, and how delighted they were that I had said that Mohammad was a reformer in his time and his first wife was a real estate dealer who was smarter and richer than he was. It's true, right?

But that was as nothing compared to the fate of those 14 words, which probably you saw.

However, I went to England for a book tour for a week. Five cities. And in every city it was exactly the same, because now it's exactly the same everywhere, right, and the world of Twitter was absolutely without limit.

And the net result there was so severe that Emma Watson and I…. Emma Watson, a great young woman whose book club now, the Shared Shelf, is introducing feminist books around the world, who's taken a year off, as you know, to do work for the HeForShe Initiative of the United Nations. And we had a conversation together in a hall, it was like four times as big as this completely packed with folks, and people were mad at her because she was talking to me, because of 14 words.

Now you know, I'm not exactly complaining because I think this happens to all of us in different ways. And you learn from your mistakes, as they say, way more than you learn from what you do right.

So I learned what it's like, for a little bit of what it's like, for a 14-year-old or 16-year-old who suddenly finds herself a photograph that she thought was private that is on the web. Or sentences of condemnation from, you know, one person that suddenly seems to be her whole world.

This is not a new thing. In my day we had what was called personality books. Does anybody remember those? Pre-technology, they were secretarial handbooks with the name of one student in your class on each page. And then there were anonymous comments that you wrote, like "Cute, but knows it." Was kind of the limits of our...

But now this can be found everywhere, and in Manchester – not just London – Manchester, Bathe, Cambridge, Oxford, all of it, all of it was exactly the same because of this interrupted sentence.

Now the question is what should we do about this? I actually, I value the empathy that it has brought to me for what other people are experiencing. I think that's very important and I'm very grateful for it.

I did not employ the reputation rescuer. I did listen to a media coach about how you are supposed to…. You know I've only been doing this for 40 years without a media coach. But I did listen to her about how it is that we are supposed to prepare. And that means researching the person who's interviewing you, having prepared sentences that you're going to say no matter what you're asked to get your point across.

And if I were a political candidate, I absolutely, you know I might well do this. If I had a job I could be fired from, which I don't – you know every movement needs a few people who can't be fired (applause) – I might have listened.

But it seems to me that in addition to empathy what this brought to me is an understanding that the difference between movements and political campaigns or corporations is authenticity.

And what that means is that when we are there unprepared, making jokes on a late night comedy show, or trying to be serious, whatever it is that we are doing, whatever it is that we are doing – we are going to fuck up. And that's OK. (applause) We just have to be able to say we're sorry and move on.

I don't think that the challenge of public discourse in a networked world is technology. I think it's staying authentic. And that is not easy when all around you is, seems, feels accusatory. Way, way more than anything I have experienced. It's not easy. But we must remember that the oxytocin is missing. That the empathy is missing. And so this is just going to happen.

And we should value, it seems to me, spontaneity over reputation even, over legacy even, over you know. Just the ability to be our authentic selves in the moment is so valuable and so important that it is worth the struggle and the pain that comes in many ways from being misunderstood and thought to be someone you are not. (applause)

So I hope that this, my belated lesson in life, you know, I mean – good that I'm learning it at 82, you know. I tell everybody my age because I'm so trying to convince myself that I'm 82, right. It's not good to think you're immortal. It causes you to plan poorly.

But I do hope that we only empathize, that we only remember how much we need to empathize with each other as we are now in this room, with all the technology that has given us knowledge and insight and clarity that's so valuable. But that is not to be replaced by the fact that we are here breathing together, breathing the same air, able to feel and sense the group we are in.

We have not been sitting around campfires for over 100,000 years, telling each other our stories for nothing. It is in our cellular memory that this is the way we communicate. This is the way we know what the other person is feeling, and ultimately the way we know that we are linked and not ranked. I want that to be my legacy.

Thank you. (applause)

Don't forget, answers as well as questions, organizing announcements.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi Gloria, thank you so much for speaking. For four years Divest Smith College has been fighting to convince the administration to divest all money from fossil fuels, an industry that disproportionately affects low-income women and women of color. I'm interested in hearing your stance of divesting, specifically on fossil fuels.

STEINEM: Yes, I got the statement. Thank you for sending me, somebody sent me the statement. And I would support it. I don't know the difficulty that comes, how long it will take, what the technical difficulties are, in terms of stock divestment. That is not my expertise. But I think the goal is divestiture, right? (applause)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: So about a month ago I had a conversation with an environmental studies professor, who is much, much older than I was. And we got in this little debate about the generational division, especially in politics. And one of our questions we were, like, asking each other is, what is the true sign of progress? Is it when we are blind to gender or when we can look at each other, acknowledge our gender differences and really respect each other based on our different genders? And so I was wondering what your stance is on that.

STEINEM: I don't know. Blind doesn't sound good to me. You know I think the subtleties of how we were raised and what our influences were, are just part of us. You know, people come in different colors like flowers. We were raised in different ways. The gender roles are very deep in the culture so they influenced us. I don't think…. To me it's not about being blind, which seems to create sameness. It's about seeing, seeing and looking in balance, so that you can understand diversity. Does that make sense? It's a little, it's like. It's like other simple political rules, like if you have more power in a situation, remember to listen as much as you talk. And if you have less power in a situation, remember to talk as much as you listen, which is almost as difficult because you're used to hiding. It's the ability to see each other and see each other's reality and experience from whatever that comes, including gender. (applause)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I was wondering, as a leader of the women's movement, what created, like how did Gloria Steinem come to be such an inspiring person? Like what, what, what I, what I... Basically, like what practical steps could you take to be as great as a leader as you are?

STEINEM: - Listen, I... First of all, remember that I am what they would have called in the 1930's a media worker, right. It is an accident that I work in the media. If I were a scientist or a carpenter, you know, I would be the same person but you wouldn't know me, but I could still have influence and be influenced by all the people around me. So there's no virtue in it. It's kind of an accident. And I love it mainly because I love ideas and words and what-if. And I love thinking, oh, if this person knew that person then they could do something, you know. I just love the whole thing about organizing and writing and so on. So I love it. I love what I do but the place I'm doing it in is an accident and I am no more or less important than anybody else who is less well known, who isn't in the media. (applause)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: When you were at Smith, did you know or know of Sylvia Plath?

STEINEM: Yes, she was two years ahead of me. She was on this campus. We were all totally knocked out with her because even professors thought her poetry was good. And I'm sorry to say that the fact that she tried to commit suicide, as you know, between her junior and senior year I think it was, I'm so, I'm so sorry that somehow we thought that was dramatic or romantic or something. It increased her mystery. And I mean, you know that's crazy that we didn't understand how painful it must have been. But Smith in the 1950's was a very, very, very different place. And the president would say, it's important to educate women so we have educated mothers, right. Now there was always an underground here, you know. There are various kinds of undergrounds. But the dominant culture was very, very different and I think it was very hard on her. And I think as I read her poetry and I think about her in subsequent years, I'm sorry, you know, that we somehow couldn't support her more. And she came back with her husband and taught. And you know, she still didn't get the kind of support she needed. And if you think about how she looked, she looked like an all-American blond cheerleader. And yet inside her was a completely different universe and often quite a difficult and painful universe. So my heart goes out to her and I'm glad that you have created a poetry center in her name. (applause)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: So, many women and men who support the women's rights and the movement often feel uncomfortable with the word feminism and prefer a word like equalism. And earlier you said all of the movements we love are connected. Does that mean that you think equalism might be a better word because it will you know, encapsulate all of that, and do you ever worry about us not using the word feminism, that we'll lose some of the history and hard work of everything?

STEINEM: Yeah, no I think equalism would be an equal word, not a better word. No, but you know there have always been other words. We started with, I kind of liked women's liberation myself. And women's liberationist. (applause) And we used it less and used feminism more because it was hard for a man to be a women's liberationist. But a man could be a feminist, if you see what I mean. So oddly we were motivated by trying to be inclusive. But there's also womanism and womanist, which is great, which Alice Walker and many other people use. There's also girls, with two or three R's, which I adore. There's also mujerista, right. So we get to choose our own word, that's OK. But I do hope that we don't choose another word because we think feminism is a bad word. If we just look in the dictionary we'll find out that's quite untrue. (applause)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, I'm Joni, nice to meet you. So recently Bernie Sanders commented that that you had called him an honorary woman at some point. So could you give us the context for that. I was pretty confused by that.

STEINEM: I have called so many men honorary women because when they vote right and they do something you want them to do I say yes, you're an honorary woman. (applause) And I think I'm one of six lifetime Democratic Socialists and I've campaigned for Bernie and you know. And I'm campaigning for or I will campaign for Hillary, and you do not have to say anything negative about Bernie in order to be for Hillary. (applause)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: So Gloria, first, thank you for all that you do, for everything that you've done for a long time. We just all appreciate it so much. (applause) So I was sitting there really entranced to hear you explain the kerfuffle of the recent Twitters and things and wishing that I had my phone on because I would put it on Facebook and share it. And I was wondering if you had had any sit down with any commentator that gave a short explanation like you gave to us, that we could go to and share on Youtube or if not, I would really love it if you did that so we could all pass that explanation.

STEINEM: Well, you know, I did immediately put an apology on my Facebook – I feel like a jerk saying my Facebook, OK. But I said in a case of talk show interruptus, I misspoke on the Bill Maher Show and I apologize. And what I had just said on the same show was the opposite. Young women are active, mad as hell about what's happening to them graduating in debt, averaging a million dollars less over their lifetimes to pay it back. And whether they gravitate to Bernie or Hillary, young women are activist and feminist in greater numbers than ever before. I mean it's there on my Facebook. I agree with you that I probably should have, in retrospect, should have explained that I was talking about power, not sex. You know, that men are where the power is. You don't need a campaign for sex, you know. You can get that. But just factually, when we're young I think we're more, I anyway, was more likely to think that power was where men are. And it took me a while to realize that cumulatively women also could have power. I probably will write about it. but that's another thing because everybody said, oh you can't, if you say anything more than that it will just renew the story and that's what happens. You know it just gets, you know, it's just a new news hook for the same story to be printed over again. But I'll write about it, right.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah, hi Gloria. This is just a question to kind of bring us back, related to that one but where you said, started off by saying that you were so excited to see that the women's movement, for example, has so much power today, so many people involved and engaged as opposed to what, 12 crazy women you said started it. So, and to bring that up to what you were just talking about, the age gap or generation gap that your comments seem to bring up such debate about. I would love for you to just kind of, maybe just elaborate more on the positive things you see about women right now and fighting for rights. Cause when you hear about this, a lot of it, as the previous comment said, the question of feminism, right. So there was just a survey that said less than 20% of millennials will identify as feminist. That was in Cosmo, so I don't know what that means. But just to put that out there. Or then for another side example, you know, for people under 30, people under 30 actually have the highest percentage of support for abortion rights. Over 65% of people under 30 support abortion rights. But only 40% of people under 40 know that Roe v. Wade was connected to abortion. Yeah, and this was in a Gallup Poll, you can look it up. They thought it was connected to segregation, civil rights, finance law. So I'm just, I'm wondering if that is maybe where that's coming from. Is there a disconnect? Are people taking things for granted? Are people feeling entitled or is this really a bigger movement than we've ever seen and we're just focusing on the negative?

STEINEM: I don't know, I want people to feel entitled. You know, gratitude never radicalized anybody. I just want you to get mad at the injustices you're experiencing now. I don't care…. I mean, you know, I devoutly wish that there had been women's history when I was a student here, so that I could have saved me 20 or 30 years, you know. So it's not that I don't think we should know about the past, but I think we have different experiences. So in most states younger women are able to get safe and legal abortions. Not in all, we know how threatened it is in southern states and Texas. And you know we know that having discovered that murdering eight doctors somehow didn't make them popular, I don't know why they felt that it would. But anyway, the anti-abortion forces are now trying to do it with building restrictions. To do the same thing, closing down clinics with restrictions that come from state legislatures. So, but for the most part, young women are responding to, as I responded to what I experienced. I got mad at the injustice I was experiencing and I think that's true universally, you know. That's why student debt is such a source of alarm. That's why sexual assault on campus is such a source of alarm. You know, I think, I think maybe, that we as older women were somewhat responsible for this idea of a generation gap because there were – this doesn't apply to me because I've been over rewarded – but there were a lot of women in the, you know, second wave so to speak, who were out there with no support from anybody. Not from their families, not from their friends, and they were just out there battling with such courage. And because they never got appreciation at the time, they now want appreciation from their daughters and granddaughters. But it's not the fault of their daughters and granddaughters that they didn't get appreciated at the time. So expecting gratitude, I think is something we should think seriously about. First of all, gratitude doesn't radicalize you. I did not walk around saying thank you for the vote. I got mad because of what was happening to me. And I think young women get mad about what is happening to them. It has to do more with experience, I think, than with age. Because I noticed that young women who come from very, very conservative or right-wing or patriarchal families have a very second-wave experience. And women that come from families that have been a couple generations of supportive feminist families are in a different place. To me it has more to do with experience than age. (applause)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, we are members of Smith College VOX which is our reproductive rights, health and justice organization on campus. Something that comes up in nearly all of our meetings is the term of intersectionality as coined by Kimberl Williams Crenshaw in 1980. And so we were kind of curious, how has your own feminism become more intersectional and what can we as feminists do to make sure that the feminist movement is one of equal representation?

STEINEM: You know the hard thing for me is that it, everybody has different experience, OK. I'm not saying that my experience was everybody's. But it was intersectional from the beginning. You know, I learned feminism way disproportionately from African American women. And it drives me crazy that they are rendered invisible by the idea that this is just happening now. It used to be called double jeopardy – the intersection, now we would say, of sex and race. The National Welfare Rights Organization was the first group I ever heard of that had done a feminist analysis of social policy. Because welfare – they'd written a wonderfully witty thing about welfare as a gigantic husband that you know, gives you just enough money to survive, looks under your bed for the shoes of other men. I mean, it was the first feminist analysis of social policy I ever read was the National Welfare Rights Organization. Florence Kennedy, Shirley Chisholm – I mean countless – Eleanor Holmes Norton, who's still in Congress. That's where I learned feminism. So what drives me crazy is that to say this is new renders them invisible. But it's a personal thing, right. (applause) And also I like intertwining as a word because it connotes not just one intersection, I fear as seen as one thing. Intertwining is…. But it doesn't have a noun.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: OK, and as you mentioned earlier we were welcome to announce organizing events and I wanted to let everyone know Smith College VOX and BSA is presenting Loretta Ross in Davis which is located across, that way. Across the street behind.

STEINEM: So Loretta Ross, are we gonna render her invisible? Loretta Ross, I learned from Loretta Ross.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Absolutely not, no, no way.


AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah, but she's here 7pm tonight in the bottom floor in the Mwangi Cultural Center, in case anyone would like to continue the conversation.


AUDIENCE MEMBER: And we will be talking about the intersection of reproductive rights, health and justice with race in the community and we would love a big turnout.

STEINEM: Great. (applause)

MODERATOR: Well, I was going to announce that too. I'm going to be having dinner with Gloria or I would be there. So our time is up and I want to be mindful of the time because several of you want to have your books signed by Gloria. So thank you Gloria for this wonderful talk and thank you for being with us.

STEINEM: No, thank you. (applause)

Smith College (2016, March 28) Gloria Steinem '56: Thinking in Public in a Networked World [Video]. Retrieved on April 15, 2020 from