Five decades after she helped launch the feminist movement, Gloria Steinem hopes to see a woman sit in the White House next January. But as she told National Public Radio in an interview last Friday, she’s under no illusion that sexism will soon disappear.
“I’m more dismayed than thrilled because I think the level of discourse has been lowered and that has lowered Hillary Clinton, too,” Steinem reflected, expressing concerns about how the presidential race has been playing out. “She has gone from being frequently elected the most admired woman in the world to a trustworthy rating that is something like Richard Nixon’s.”
She blamed that development on Donald Trump and the “false equivalency” that the media has drawn between him and his foe.
“He has been elevated and she has been called into question in all kinds of ways that, with a more equal colleague in opposition, she would not have been,” she griped.
According to Steinem, Clinton’s election will not herald a post-gender society, in the same manner that Barack Obama’s election did not herald a post-racial one.
“We’re not just talking about getting one woman a job. We’re talking about getting equality for all women, so it’s only one step — in a very visible place, but still, it’s only one step,” she said.
Now an octogenarian, Steinem has continued to be active as a writer, public intellectual, and dean of the feminist movement. Her latest book, “My Life on the Road,” recounts personal experiences that span her childhood and entire career.
This isn’t the first time Steinem has spoken about this election — she got herself into trouble during the Democratic primary. Backing Clinton over Bernie Sanders, she disparaged his female supporters as being motivated by male attention. “When you’re young, you’re thinking: ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie,’” Steinem said in a February interview, explaining the Vermont senator’s popularity among millennial women. The backlash was immediate, and she apologized for the remarks.
Daniel J. Solomon is the Assistant to the Editor/News Writer at the Forward. Originally from Queens, he attended Harvard as an undergraduate, where he wrote his senior thesis on French-Jewish intellectual history. He is excited to have returned to New York after his time in Massachusetts. Daniel’s passions include folk music, cycling, and pointed argument.