Friday, March 13, 2009

Gloria Steinem


A friend of mine recently heard Gloria Steinem speak in the bay area here in California. I am so grateful that she took the time to share what Gloria spoke of at her uplifting lecture.

"Gloria will be 75 years old this month. She had an abortion at 22 which she never regretted since she never desired motherhood or marriage but did marry at 66 to her best friend who died 3 years later. She said he was the most in the present person she ever met. He would carry dog/cat food in his car and stop to feed animals and throw spare change in a parking lot so children would find it.

She struggled with public speaking and cancelled several engagements and was sued. She is a conflict avoider and wants harmony as key theme in her life. If she could re-do anything, she would do what she knows much faster and do different things to maintain interest and excitement about life. As a writer, she always worked towards deadlines but at her age, she says she’s her deadline. She wrote a recent book: Revolution from Within about finding your own path in life. Whether you are a feminist or not, she is a remarkable woman."

It was incredibly enlightening to learn the Gloria struggled with public speaking and that she was also a conflict avoider. I wouldn't have imagined that to be the case. I always saw her as this strong, outspoken, and in some ways fearless woman. For years she has taken on writing and speaking about controversial subjects. She has dared to voice her opinions and views even when it was certain that some people would disagree. It is actually encouraging and inspiring to know that even though public speaking and dealing with conflict was difficult for her that she did it anyway. It reminds me of a favorite quote by Maggie Kuhn which states:

"Speak your mind even if your voice shakes."

Here were some of Gloria's key points from her lecture:
  • Care giving in the US accounts for 1/3 of all work but has no economic value e.g. No tax credits or breaks etc.

  • Mozart had an older sister who was probably more accomplished than him but never was heard about since she was female. Besides Sally Ride, there were 10 other female astronauts who never received any press.

  • If you say you are beginning to sound/look like your Mom, don’t live her life, live your own as a tribute to her

  • 65 year olds dream more often in black and white than younger people because of black and white TV (shows the impact of TV on us)

  • Everyone needs to tell their own story about their life not just the rich and famous. We look to celebrities because we downgrade our own stories which are more important

  • You will get in trouble anyway, so do what you want in life

  • Stay connected to other women to share stories, memories and keep one another hopeful in life

  • While systems are initially developed to help us, they may degrade and destroy some of us e.g. pharmaceutical industry

  • Media lives on statistics and generalization and devoid of imagery, stories and narratives which provide encouragement and interest

  • US has sorely lacked any viable leadership for past 10 years throwing us into a lost country

  • Women are an unused resource to spread peace

  • Few women in the corporate world because they lack power to be their own worst enemy and are promoted to put down other women

  • Be authentic to your current or potential mate so he can be real too

  • Self esteem two types: Core ( from childhood – what you believe about yourself) and situational per circumstances (if you don’t have positive core esteem, the second can be a bottomless pit)

  • How to remain hopeful as women ? Talk to one another, listen, be supportive and share. Women don’t own a country, neighborhood or have a common bar. Build your own community

  • Women generally listen more than talk, men vice versa

  • If girls like Barbie dolls, use them as a teaching tool. Barbie’s feet are smaller than her boobs; point out that she would not be able to stand up without help.

Recommended books by Gloria:

  • Color Purple
  • Writings by Janice Mirikitani - poet
  • Pray the Devil Back to Hell
  • Exterminate the Brutes – Sven Norquist

The last two are about the roots of racism which is inseparable from sexism in our society

2 comments:

Cyndee Greene said...

This was fascinating to read!
Thank you Michelle.

Anne Hays said...

Just saw your comment about Gloria's quote from Maggie Kuhn. She and Gloria were friends. And Maggie was like family for many years.

Maggie also said..."if you see a rock in the road, go over it, around it, under it..." She talked a lot about hope, which is important to remember in these times. And, she used to say "for mental health, do at least one outrageous thing a day." She was the original little old lady in tennis shoes --- with great purple sneaks she got at the shoe store in Chestnut Hill.

Anne Hays Egan, Placitas NM