By Tonya Malinowski / News Editor
American feminist icon Gloria Steinem spoke to a packed Torp Theatre in Davidson Hall about her involvement in the social movements of the past 40 years.
Steinem, the founder of Ms. magazine and author of four bestsellers, helped establish some of the most pivotal organizations and alliances of the women’s rights movement.
The self-proclaimed “hopeaholic” discussed the state of contemporary American feminism and social equality to an audience of almost 400 on March 19.
“It’s important to remember how recently men of color and all women were owned, like tables and chairs,” Steinem said. “Now, together, we are in a second wave and striving for legal, social and political equality.”
Steinem stated that feminism, “the longest revolution”, is 40 years in to its second 100-year wave. She believes the next step is domestic equality as well, citing that no popular television shows depict a stay-at-home father.
“Young women on campuses are still saying, ‘how can I combine career and family?’ and I’ve yet to see a man who worries about that,” she said. “We have been convinced women can do what men can do, but we are yet to be convinced that a man can do what a woman can.”
One of the spotlighted topics of Steinem’s discussion was domestic violence, a term she said makes the issue seem small and is working to change to “original violence”.
Among attendees at the lecture was Shepaug Valley High School senior Arielle Johnson-Leahy, who is working on a yearlong project with the Susan B. Anthony Project on raising awareness about violence in the home.
“It is such an honor to be in the presence of someone who has been such a role model to me,” Johnson-Leahy said. “You feel like you’re part of the bigger issue just being in the same room.”
During the open forum portion of the lecture, Johnson-Leahy asked Steinem for advice on accessing larger platforms and was applauded for her commitment to the cause.
“We are still at the point where we’re on the river plucking out people who are drowning,” Steinem answered. “We are just beginning to go to the head of the river and keep women from falling in.”
The lecture, sponsored by The Ruthe Boyea Women’s Center and several others, included a book signing after the open forum.
Steinem also discussed her current projects, which includes work on helping stop the sex trafficking industry and creation of the Women’s Media Center, which focuses on making women a more powerful part of the media.
Using her signature wit and humor, Steinem charmed audiences while simultaneously encouraging them to actively participate in the continual fight for equality.
“We should not be afraid of this energy that comes from friction and from us being our real selves,” she said. “I’m going to make a button that says ‘The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.’”