Yesterday, I had the pleasure of hearing Gloria Steinem1 speak at fund raiser luncheon for BC Women’s Hospital, an event at which my office had a table. Being an event for a women’s hospital, Steinem spoke about her passion for women’s health an its importance for the women’s movement.
Some interesting things from her talk:
- she reiterated a point that I find I’m often making when I support feminism – feminism isn’t man-hating; in fact, equality of the sexes benefits men as well as women. One example: all the focus (e.g., US Congressional Hearings) on the birth control pill when it first came out not only ensured that women had that option to control their own means of reproduction, but results in patient information being required on all prescription drugs – which benefits men as well as women.
- the suffrage movement came from First Nations women. European women, brought to North America basically as “chattel” saw First Nations women living in a more egalitarian way than the European women had ever seen and thought “hey, we want that!”
- change is hard! Change requires work! She used the analogy of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly… apparently, the cells of the caterpillar body don’t just passively die to make way for the butterfly cells; they fight it and, in the process, become like this gel on which the emerging butterfly cells feed. Change is struggle, but in the end we get to be a butterfly. =)
Also, Pamela Martin was the MC and told an interesting story about getting married in the early 1970s and making the then-controversial decision to not change her last name. When she went to get a passport, they made her fill out a “change of name” form because, by their reasoning, by not changing her name at marriage, which women are “supposed” to do, she was, in effect, changing her name to her maiden name. “I, Pamela Martin, swear that I’m changing my name to… Pamela Martin.”2
As a total coincidence, the day before I got an email from the library that a book I had put in a request for months and months ago was finally in – Full Frontal Feminism. So I expect you’ll be hearing more from me on feminism in the near future (including a review of a book on evolutionary psychology, “Why Do Beautiful People Have More Daughters,” which I finished a little while ago, but haven’t got around to reviewing yet.)
1So, I just read the Wikipedia entry on Steinem while grabbing the URL to link to her name and discovered that she’s Christian Bale‘s stepmom; further, she:
Starring in American Psycho, of course, being one of Bale’s claims to fame. Another thing I noticed from Wikipedia… some of the sentences from the entry on Steinem seem very familiar. I’m 99% certain the person who introduced Steinem (and it wasn’t Pamela Martin) took sentences directly from Wikipedia… in particular, I remember:
She attended Smith College, where she remains active. In 1963 she was employed as a Playboy Bunny at the New York Playboy Club to research an article that exposed how women were treated at the clubs.
Her 1962 article in Esquire magazine about the way in which women are forced to choose between a career and marriage preceded Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique by one year
Steinem remains on the masthead as one of six founding editors
2This reminds me of when my ex and I went to Hamilton City Hall to apply for our marriage license. They made us swear on a Bible that everything in our application (including our declaration that we are atheists) was true. “I, Beth, swear on this Bible that I don’t believe in this Bible.”