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On Gloria Steinem, Thursday Night, March 02, 2017

Contributed by M. R.

Speaking to a capacity crowd of over 2,000 at the Arlington Theater on Thursday evening, Gloria Steinem directly addressed her own and her audience’s worries about the condition of American politics after the election of Donald Trump.  Steinem identified what she called “a contagion of energy” released across the country in the wake of the election.  She cited the Women’s March on Washington as an important and unifying response to the dangers posed by the new administration.

Upbeat in tone even if grim in her assessment of the current danger, Steinem noted the importance of physical presence in protest movements, invoking the strengths that we have simply by “looking at each other.”  Although she did not cite Indivisible by name, she seemed to have the movement in mind when she spoke about the formation of “talking circles” as a mechanism for survival.  We are “concerned animals,” she declared, and we gather hope and strength from each other.  Praising anger, she noted that anger suppressed is depression.

Steinem was emphatic about the need to abolish the Electoral College and she also urged her listeners to mobilize economic strength by, for example, refusing to buy products advertised on Fox News.  Asked what Californians can do for other states, Steinem advised adopting an inquiring tone, asking what we can do to help.  Steinem cited the need to look beyond Washington to pay attention to politics at the state as well as the national level, working to elect effective women and men to state legislatures as well as to the U.S. Congress.

Steinem, a founder of MS Magazine and one of the icons of the modern Women’s Movement, reminded her listeners that the Women’s Movement has been diverse from the beginning and continues to be diverse today. She was warmly received by an affectionate audience.  The event was sponsored by UCSB Arts & Lectures, which was hosting her for the third time.  Because of the special timeliness of Steinem’s visit and the broad interest in her appearance, the lecture was transmitted by closed-circuit television to an equally sold-out Campbell Hall at UCSB.

–Editor’s note: Two more topics stood out to other Indivisible Santa Barbara members in attendance. The first had to do with human history. Steinem mentioned that pre-monotheistic and pre-patriarchal history, some human languages existed where “no male and female pronouns” were used, and humans were connected “in a circle, rather than a pyramid”. She shared the notion that, “human beings were linked, not ranked.”

The second was topic of how dominance becomes normalized in all societies first through the wide-spread dominance of one gender over the other. Steinem stated that the fight for women’s rights is “intertwined” with the fight for racial justice, LGBTQ rights, and other civil rights, “you can’t pull one out to separate it from the others”.  “Half of the population” is dominated by the other half, setting the standard from which all other forms of domination take root.