Women’s History Month, Day 2
SERIOUSLY THOUGH. I found out this morning that she was speaking at Oberlin College and I arrived an hour and a half early for the talk in order to claim seats 3 rows back from where she’d be. And boy, am I glad I did– The Plain Dealer estimates that around 1800 people were present in Finney Chapel to welcome her back to campus!
The woman is turning 77 this month. SEVENTY-I’M-NOT-MESSING-AROUND-SEVEN. Still touring. Still signing. Still speaking. Still stirring the pot like you wouldn’t believe. I managed to scrawl 8 pages of notes during her talk if that says anything about the content she continues to deliver despite being almost 4 scores young! 😉
I don’t want to take up too much space typing out everything she said (you can read the PD article for more words on the experience), but I would like to point out a few of Steinem’s life accomplishments in honor of Women’s History Month, and I’d also like to drop a few of her wisdoms in closing.
A brief history:
- In 1971, Steinem helped found the National Women’s Political Caucus, of which she is still president to this day!
- Ms. Magazine was founded by Steinem in 1972, the first issue selling 300,000 copies in 3 days and generating 26,000+ subscriptions in a matter of weeks.
- Steinem published a highly controversial contraception-related article in 1962 and hasn’t turned back since; she has published 7 books and countless articles to date, including last week’s NYT piece on women in politics.
- In 1993, Steinem joined the ranks of more than 200 incredible US women inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, NY. In other words, she kicks ass and lives to tell the tale to audiences nationwide.
- On the seemingly insurmountable task of changing things for the future: If we once lived differently in the past, we can live differently in the future.
- Ends don’t justify the means; means ARE the ends. We can’t breed peace from war. We cannot have community or joy or equality without living out those values every day. You don’t get something by putting it off.
- On risk-taking and launching into action: even when you fail, you are saved from the “what if’s?” that would have haunted you.
- We cannot be afraid of the energy caused by resistance. We are all imaginal cells (google it and be blown away) catalyzing a change to the society in which we function.
- On laughter: humor comes with true enlightenment. When you have insight in the world, you can’t help but laugh at unexpected results. This will keep you young and energized, and comfortable to speak your mind– unlike the air of false solemnity we so often adopt in the public sphere.
My own thought: I miss the intellectual activism I’d taken for granted at Loyola and in Chicago.