Sometimes — specifically right now — it feels like things in the world couldn’t possibly be worse. And Gloria Steinem seems like the last person who would ever claim anyone should be grateful that we’re just living in a time when a president who brags about assaulting women supports a man thrice-accused sexual crimes, helping him to gain a lifelong appointment on the highest court of the land along with 51 United States senators after an incomplete FBI investigation.
And yet. The 84-year-old women rights icon has a message that should be familiar to Jews everywhere: Lo tira. Do not fear. Al tir’u. You shall not fear.
Moses says it in the Torah, and Gloria Steinem says it on Instagram. After all — things could be worse!
Following again in Moses’ footsteps by announcing things in lists of ten, Steinem laid out the way the successful confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court could be worse. A theme of the list is the women the process bullied, steamrolled and abused along the way — Steinem lists Kavanaugh’s wordless wife, female members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and women who have had or will have abortions.
The other theme of Steinem’s post is defiance. “The Supreme Court may endanger women, but it can never make women obey unjust laws,” she cautions. Steinem concludes her list by saying: Worst of all, you and I might never have had leaders like Martin Luther King, and so we would not know that, “One has the moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” But we do have such leaders, so no Court controlled by the likes of Trump or Kavanaugh will ever be Supreme.”
Imagine spearheading women’s rights activism in 1968 and rounding the corner of 80, to meet this! But Steinem’s message is clear: Don’t despair, defy.
Jenny Singer is the deputy lifestyle editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny