Feminist writer Gloria Steinem today urged a Minneapolis audience of 1,200-plus people — mostly multiple generations of women and girls, with a sprinkling of men — to consider that women’s struggle for equality is ongoing, that “we’re only halfway there.”
Steinem delivered the keynote speech to womenwinning’s 27th annual luncheon — whose theme was “Sharing the Torch: Generations of Women Winning” — at The Historic Milwaukee Depot. The mission of womenwinning is “to encourage, promote and support pro-choice women’s leadership in all political parties and levels of public office.”
First, women were told that the women’s movement wasn’t needed, Steinem said, and now they’re told that it’s no longer necessary.
Underscoring progress yet to be achieved, she called for support of legislation that would guarantee employees seven days of paid sick leave a year. She suggested that care-giving should be accorded monetary value through the tax code. (“Ninety percent of care-giving is by women,” she pointed out.)
She spoke of the need for more attention to the enduring problems of sex trafficking and domestic violence, at one point asking those in attendance to imagine “what would be possible if we raised even one generation of children without violence in the home.” And she encouraged women to run for public office and/or support the election of women.
Steinem had some critical words for the way the media portray and cover women, and talked about the Women’s Media Center, which she helped found. “We try to police the media,” she said, and to encourage women to enter media fields.
She sees positive signs in President Barack Obama’s election and drew an analogy: Women victims of domestic violence often experience a violent backlash when they take steps to escape control, she said. Our society, which is taking visible, positive steps to escape racism and hate, is experiencing a similar backlash as we see individual acts of violence by those who still hold racist, hate-filled views, she said, citing among other incidents last week’s Holocaust Museum killing.