Feminist icon Gloria Steinem says battle for equality is far from over - LancasterOnline: News

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem says battle for equality is far from over

Spoke at Franklin & Marshall College

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Posted: Thursday, September 9, 2010 8:52 pm | Updated: 9:29 pm, Wed Sep 11, 2013.

All you people out there working for a just and equitable society, who thought you could rest a bit?

After all, women can and do perform all types of work. Men take a more active role in parenting in many families. We have our first black president.

Gloria Steinem has a little message for you about the struggle for equality that still remains.

"I don't know how to break it to you," the longtime feminist and author told an audience at Franklin & Marshall College Thursday, "but it will take another century and a half."

Steinem urged the men and women sitting before her, who ranged in age from college freshmen to white-haired couples, to keep working in what she called "the second stage" of resistance.

"That's when people tell you it used to be necessary, but it's not anymore," she said.

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.

Men need to become equal parents with women. We need a national child care system, she said.

Steinem, 76, spoke at F&M's Common Hour program, which gathers the community for cultural and academic talks at midday each Thursday during the academic year.

Steinem is a writer, lecturer, editor and feminist activist. She was one of the first contributors to New York magazine, co-founded Ms. magazine and helped to found the Women's Action Alliance and the Ms. Foundation for Women.

She urged the audience to work toward community, reproductive freedom, democratic families, an end to child abuse and conflict resolution.

See the essence of godliness in yourself and in all living creatures, she also said.

Steinem's appearance at F&M initially was scheduled for March, but she canceled at the last moment so she could go to the bedside of her dying friend, Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation.

That experience taught Steinem the vast importance of community, as demonstrated by the Cherokee.

Mankiller's family and friends acknowledged her death and celebrated her final days, bringing food, mowing the lawn, lighting bonfires.

But when Mankiller's daughters asked Steinem to write down the name of each person who had helped, and what they did, they also showed her the value of the uniqueness of each person in the community.

Steinem said a community is a circle, with no hierarchy that places one person over another. Each person has something to contribute.

Everyone also has different lessons to learn about his or her place in the circle.

In fact, she said in the interview, she thinks it was a man who came up with the Golden Rule: do unto others what you would have them do unto you.

If a woman wrote it, the rule would be, "I'm going to treat myself as well as I treat other people," she said.

Steinem joked at the end of her speech that she's a "strong believer in T-shirt wisdom."

She suggested a few slogans that might look good on shirts:

Racism prevents democracy.

There is no democracy without feminism.

No community without equality.

cstauffer@lnpnews.com

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