From Cosmpolitan: At a panel discussion in New York City on Thursday evening, feminist leader and icon Gloria Steinem, 82, made it clear that she has no intention of slowing down, or giving up her position as a generational leader of the feminist movement – especially not under a Donald Trump presidency. “I’m not giving up my torch, thank you very much, I’m hanging onto my torch,” she said in response to question about who the next feminist leaders are. “But I am using it to light other people’s torches, and noticing that they’ve lit their own — they don’t need me at all.”
Throughout the presidential election, Steinem — a feminist activist and founder of Ms. Magazine — was a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton and vocal opponent of Donald Trump. Born in 1934, Steinem has lived through 13 different presidents, and 20 presidential elections. But on Thursday evening, she told Cosmopolitan.com that never before has she seen a president like Trump.
“We’ll have to be in full-out rebellion. This guy is a sexual predator, he is a racist, he and his father were both convicted of massive race discrimination in their housing projects,” Steinem said. “I’ve never, in my lifetime, seen a president who was so … how shall I say this? Such an egotist, such an extremist, and so unrepresentative of what this country is supposed to be about.”
But rather than be discouraged by the trajectory of the next four years, Steinem is hopeful of what can be accomplished by feminists, despite the odds seemingly stacked against them. She thinks the energy that exploded in the days and weeks following Trump’s victory can last and that, if anything good can come out of the election results, it’s that people are “taking power unto themselves” to fight back in ways like never before.
“We have elected, for the first time, a completely impossible president,” Steinem said.”What I see in the streets, and online, and in all kinds of ways is that people are taking power unto themselves, and understanding that if we stop looking up and feeling alone, we start looking at each other — we have a lot of strength.”
Asked if she was disappointed by women who voted for Trump — based on exit polls, we know that about 41 percent of women voted for him — Steinem said no. She drew attention to the fact that women of color overwhelmingly voted against him, as did young and unmarried women. As for white women, who did vote for Trump by a small majority, Steinem said having conversations with them is key — but also that a white female vote, especially among white married women, is nothing new.
“I think there were a variety of reasons [they voted for Trump],” Steinem said. “One is they’re in economic trouble and they’re just voting for change for the sake of change, one is I have to vote my husband’s interests because I’m dependent on his identity and his income. In that case, we have to talk to each other, and find out the why, and communicate.”
But to be clear, Steinem sees no point in empathizing with those Trump voters she recognizes as white supremacists — or, as many prefer to be called, the alt-right. “It’s inappropriate to be empathetic with a racist,” she said. “It’s inappropriate to be empathetic with a sexual predator who enjoys Trump’s predation on women.”
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