August 13th, 2006

Transgressing Distinctions of Gender and Race


CYNTHIA FUCHS EPSTEIN: Hello and welcome to the final, but final in no other sense, plenary of these meetings. Today, we have two remarkable speakers who in different ways have devoted themselves to
examining and reporting on the causes of social injustice. They are ASA’s own Larry Bobo, a premier social scientist who has addressed a wide set of questions on racial issues in America, and Gloria
Steinem, the iconic and never tiring crusader for women’s equality. I will introduce them separately before they speak. First, in reverse order to that noted on your program will be Professor Bobo.
So, let me say a few words about him. Lawrence Bobo is the Martin Luther King Jr. centennial professor at Stanford University. He also serves as Director of Stanford Center for Comparative Studies in
Race and Ethnicity and of the program in African and African-American studies. He is the former Tishman-Diker Professor of Sociology and of African and of African American Studies at Harvard
University. Among his distinguished accomplishments, Larry Bobo is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, former Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study and the Behavioral Sciences and
former visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation. His research concerns race, ethnicity, politics, and social equality. He is the founding editor for the Du Bois Review: Social Science Research
on Race published by Cambridge University Press. He is co-author of the award winning book Racial Attitudes in America: Trends and Interpretations. I could go on, but that would detract from his
important comments today and so I am here happily welcoming Larry Bobo to our session. LAWRENCE BOBO: Thank you Cynthia for that warm introduction and thank you also especially for this invitation. I
am honored to be a part of plenary panel at your meetings. You’ve set for us a provocative and important theme that is organized the past several days and I think in a most productive day for all of
us and like most of you here I instantly agreed to do this, not so much because it was a great honor and opportunity, which it certainly is, but because I have been looking forward for a long time to
meeting Gloria Steinem myself and delighted to do so. It seems to my fate of the last few weeks to meet these iconic figures of my own, and I’m sure many of your own intellectual lives. Two weeks
ago I shared a panel with Angela Davis so this is kind of all coming together in a fashion. Let me turn to my remarks and those of you who know me know that I’m a hopeless Michigan empiricist and
it’s hard for me to give a talk without overheads and in this case, PowerPoint. So, if the fellows in the back want to start that…..thank you so much. When Cynthia asked me to be a part of this
session, I quickly said yes, though at the time I had no firm idea of what I would literally talk about today. There are, of course, many ways of approaching the large theme of transgressing
boundaries. Thus, taking on the topic of race and political divide, something very much a part of my work over the years, seeing that first a sufficient narrowing of the terrain, but for today I have
decided on a narrower still engagement with the matter of race and political divides, namely I have adopted the title of Transgressing Race, Crime and Public Policy: The Role of Public Opinion in the
New Law and Order Regime. First and foremost I center my remarks here because it is this intersection, especially of the African-American experience, crime and public opinion that is the core of my
current research activities. Second, taking this approach gives me the opportunity to draw attention to a profound set of social changes that concern me as a scholar, as a citizen, and as a Black
person. What I will refer to below as the Phenomena of Racialized Mass Incarceration or what my friend Loic Waquant has called “The New Carceral State,” or fourth stage of racial repression.
Third, I take this approach because it also provides an opportunity to highlight the work of a number of sociologists who have taken up closely related topics, a development to me that highlights some
of the very best, most vigorous and exciting work in the discipline. My remarks are organized around establishing three key points. First, I sketch out the emergence of Racialized Mass Incarceration.
What does it mean? What set of new and emergent social conditions does this term refer to? Second, I review recent sociological work taking up various implications or consequences of this emergent
social condition and third, I highlight several important types of outcomes identified through my own race, crime, and public opinion project. I will conclude by talking about some implications of
this work for, I think, our collective endeavors. I’m going to talk real fast, because I know you really want to hear Gloria. On the first point of mass incarceration; especially of racialized mass
incarceration, it is fair to say that our criminal justice system has undergone steady but dramatic change over the past three decades. Policy has flowed largely in one and only one direction, namely
a get-tough approach on crime, the cause for stricter penalties and real jail time for a wider array of offenses. Whether we are talking about mandatory minimum sentences, truth in sentencing,
limiting judicial discretion, three strikes and you’re out laws, trying juveniles and adults, and so on, the tilt has clearly been toward jailing more people for a longer period of time for a wider
array of offenses at an ever earlier point in the life cycle. The magnitude of the change is now enormous and it’s an arguably unintended social effects are increasingly evident and potentially
troubling. One immediate effect of social policy change in this domain is shown in the first figure, has been a steady rise in the number of people under some form of supervision by the criminal
justice system. In 1980, there were roughly 2 million people under some form of criminal justice supervision. By 2003, the number of people on probation, in prison, on parole, or in jail had risen to
well over 6 million. Figures for the last year show continued growth with nearly 2¼ million people in prison in 2005. Indeed, as the next figure shows, the US is now the undisputed world champion in
reliance upon incarceration. Per capita we imprison anywhere from roughly four times as many of our people as compared to Great Britain or up to 12 times as many of our own citizens as compared to
Japan when we are assessed relative to the world other major industrial nations. This change has followed unevenly across the population. As the next figure shows, minorities, but especially
African-Americans are disproportionately represented among those in jail or prison, with Blacks constituting almost half the prison population in 2004. It sometimes helps to consider the raw numbers
rather than percentages as the next figure shows, with very nearly a million African Americans incarcerated in 2002, as this figure highlights. The extremity of the disproportion is particularly
evident in my own home state of California, as this next slide shows with an incarceration rate of nearly 3,000 per 100,000 individuals, the African-American incarceration rate in California is nearly
six times that for non-Hispanic Whites, the ratio is closer to 2:1 if we’re comparing non-Hispanic Whites to the Latino population. A key point to make here is that this magnitude of disproportion,
an absolute level of incarceration are comparatively recent phenomena. As distinguished criminologist Alfred Blumstein has reported, the rate of Black incarceration tripled between 1980 and the
present. Nationally, the Black to white incarceration ratio was more than 8:1. Now, more than 2% of the Black adult population is incarcerated, almost 1 in 10 Black males in their 20s are in federal
or state prison, nearly 1/3 are in some form of supervision, with that number rising above 50% in some areas and the projected lifetime odds of an African American male born in the 1990s serving time
in a state or federal prison is now almost 1 in 3 as compared to less than 1 in 10 for non-Hispanic Whites. I could also add here that we’ve seen a rapid rise in the incarceration of women as well,
in particular of African American women with them, who now experience the highest growing rates of incarceration. As Blumstein concludes after his exhaustive statistical analyses, there is a large
disproportionate representation of minorities, especially Blacks, involved in all aspects of the criminal justice system. This disproportion alone, regardless of its legitimacy, conveys a profound
sense of unfairness to the overrepresented groups and I would suggest should convey to us all a problematic circumstance for society as a whole. A point to which I will return to below. The bulk of
this rapid increase in incarceration rates can be traced to “war on drugs” and associated sentencing practices. It is important to underscore that this is not a product of a response to violent
crime. All told, there was more than a 400% increase between the 1980s and 1990s and the chances that a drug arrest would ultimately result in a prison sentence. This is particularly problematic since
other data suggests that few if any meaningful differences between Blacks and Whites exist in the rate of illegal drug consumption. Yet, African Americans face far higher risks of formal arrests and
much greater risks of ultimate incarceration for essentially the same rule transgressing behaviors. It is not possible in the time I have here today to develop a full sociological account of
differential Black involvement in crime, but it is important to put it in quick perspective. We should recognize the differential involvement in crime reflects the interplay of key economic, political
and cultural factors. Specifically, these outcomes stem from the joint effects of what the imminent sociologist William Julius Wilson has called new or intensified ghetto poverty and the patterns of
social adaptation it has spawned on the one hand and of what social policy change did to engage or exacerbate, and in most instances exacerbate, existing patterns of social disorganization on the
other hand. The latter includes sharp reduction and federal aid to cities and the panoply of policing and legal changes attended to the war on drugs. That is, differential Black involvement in crime
is traceable primarily to differential exposure to structural conditions of extreme poverty and persistent joblessness, racial residential segregation, changed law enforcement priorities and the
modern legacies of racial oppression. The new intensified and racialized mass incarceration now has a number of reverberating social effects. These include, diminishing already weak employment
prospects, fundamentally altering the life course trajectory, especially for low skill, African-American men, undermining already fragile families and communities, the distortion of the political
process and its outcomes through fell and disenfranchisement practices and the reinforcement of old antiBlack stereotypes and prejudices. I’m going to give examples of three of these points in
particular by identifying the work of some critically important recent researchers. First, and most immediately, a criminal record clearly diminishes the employment prospects of the individual so
stigmatized, that’s more or less an obvious point, however, more discerningly, a recent field experiment or auditing study by sociologist Eva Pager from Princeton found that all the low skill Blacks
can generally expect to face discrimination in seeking a job, Blacks with a criminal record had a vanishingly small prospect for a successful job search. Indeed, only 5% of Blacks with a criminal
records who applied for jobs in her Milwaukee sample received a call back. These numbers are dismal when compared to the already low likelihood of receiving a call back even for Blacks without a
criminal record who were called back about 14% of the time, compared to similar Whites who were called back about 34% of the time. At least as distressing if you can see this figure, is her finding
that even Whites with a criminal record faired better than Blacks without a criminal record. Second, the experience with incarceration is on the verge of becoming a normal life course expectation in
some Black communities, particularly, poor Black communities. Becky Pettit and Bruce Western have recently shown that among the age cohort 30-34 in 1999, fully 60% of Black men without a high school
diploma had been incarcerated at some point. This is more than three times the rate of 17 per 100 for the same age cohort in 1979 prior to the war on drugs. Putting this in perspective, the rate for
Whites increased considerably too, but it obviously went up to a much greater degree for African-Americans. Third, in many states felon conviction not only means losing the right to vote for the
length of a prison sentence, it can also mean a permanent loss of voting rights. So, nearly 2 million African Americans are affected by felon disfranchisement laws. On the basis of careful statistical
modeling, Chris Uggen and Jeff Manza have shown that Black disenfranchisement alone can affect which of the major political parties has control of the US Congress and furthermore was easily the margin
of victory in the 2000 Presidential election,an event the enormity of which sinks in on all of us every day. In some, there has been a sharp rise in reliance upon incarceration as a mechanism for
social control. This change had gravely disproportionate impact on the African-American population. I want to bring both this social transformation and some of its key effects into focus before
shifting to some of the issues of findings growing out of my own work on public opinion. With regard to public opinion, I want to underscore three points. One, that racial prejudice tragically is a
key ingredient of the durable public appetite for punitive law and order policies. Secondly, public opinion, unfortunately, is hard to move by simply providing people information, and I’m going to
try give a quick example of that, on the bias or unfairness of current practices and thirdly, perceived illegitimacy is at a very high and consequential level, at least in the eyes of the African
American population. Quick examples here, in our surveys we included three key measures of punitive outlooks; support for three strikes law, support for trying juveniles and adults and support for the
death penalty. We also included three quite distinct ways of measuring anti-Black prejudice, negative emotional feelings, negative stereotypes, and a scale used by political scientists and social
psychologists called the Racial Resentment Measure. What this figure shows to you is that each of those is significantly correlated with each one of those punitive policy outlooks. Those effects
remain, especially for the racial resentment measure. Even after we control for education, age, reason, actual homicide rate, actual size of the Black population, percentage of Blacks and poverty,
whether you are politically liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, attend church a lot, and blame crime on individual dispositions and effort versus social cause. That is, after you throw
the kitchen sink at this stuff, racial prejudice is still a big kicker behind the public appetite for punitive social policies. To clarify what this means, this probability chart here shows using the
Racial Resentment Scale, that if you look at the attitudes for the moment, at least of our White respondents, fewer than 1 in 10 support the death penalty if they score very low on this measure. If
they score high, 5 or above which characterizes more than a quarter of the White population, the likelihood of supporting the death penalty approaches .7. It’s a very strong effect in this chart.
The second point to make is that we don’t move people easily by giving them information. We focused on one aspect on the war on drugs to test this, that is, the sentencing differential between being
arrested with crack cocaine versus powder cocaine, where you need to posses roughly 100 times more powder cocaine to get a sentence that would be applied for crack cocaine. We inform most people of
this difference, or we just ask people whether or not they approve of the sentencing differential in a randomly selected experimental half of our sample. For another randomly selected example, we tell
them, “Well, most of the people who get arrested with crack cocaine are Black, most of the people who get arrested with powder cocaine are White. Now do you approve of the sentencing
differential?” We were pleased to find that we actually could move public opinion. There was a full 20% drop among Blacks and essentially white Americans and willingness to support the sentencing
differential, which looked encouraging on the face of it, that at least in this domain you could move it. We did three other experiments on the death penalty and nothing worked including the prospect
of executing an innocent person, sadly. We tried to nail down what this means because the question didn’t tell us whether they approved of the lesser sentence for powder or really wanted the higher
sentence for crack. Sadly, when you nail this down, what do you think people want? They want the penalties for powder brought up to those for crack, although they’re willing to say, “Go ahead and
don’t make it so obviously racially discriminatory.” Sadly. This measure also is strongly connected to racial prejudice. I’m not going to through the full multivariant model, but that last
column shows you the effect for the racial prejudice measure. I’ve already mentioned racial resentment. It’s the single largest effect in the model on how people react to the crack versus powder
cocaine sentencing, above and beyond a whole bunch of other crime relevant attitudes and effects. Thirdly, I think we’re witnessing a consequential undermining of legitimacy of the criminal justice
system and it is happening at a point when we might have predicted otherwise. Because there are so many African-American police chiefs, because there are so many African American mayors, because the
legal system as a whole no longer quite produces Scottsborough-like trial outrages, we might have predicted a very different look for Black response to the criminal justice system than what the data
suggests. The data suggests, as this one suggests, 89% of Blacks in a national survey telling you the criminal justice system is systematically biased against Blacks as compared to 36% of Whites. From
one of largest percentage differences you can produce by race in any public opinion study, just as one example of it. A lot of this is traceable to how people feel about the war on drugs, where you
get in this instance 66% of African-Americans agreeing with the proposition the drug laws are enforced unfairly against Black communities. We didn’t just want to document, I’m going to skip ahead
here, that, I’m sorry this is so big you can’t really read it, that people perceive the system as biased. We wanted to test whether or not it was consequential. So, part of what we did was an
experiment where we asked people about the prospect of jury nullification. Let’s assume you’re on a jury. On trial is a young African-American male arrested for the first time for a non-violent
drug arrest; the evidence tends to suggest probably guilty. Would you be willing to let the person go free if you were a member of this jury? In a sense, engage in jury nullification. A fairly high
percentage of African-Americans say yes at the very outset – 50%. If you introduce what might be called the Mark Fuhrman manipulation and asked them what they would do if the person has accused the
arresting officer of a racial bias. It goes to nearly 70% of African-Americans say they are prepared to let a guilty person go free. We also did this for a homicide and you’d be surprised the huge
effect even that produces among African Americans when there is an accusation of racial bias. So, I believe this perception of illegitimacy is quite consequential, and there are other examples we
could talk about, but I want to try to wrap this up if I can. As legal scholar, Randall Kennedy has said, there is no area in American life that is more volatile than the point of which changes of
racial injustice and intersect with the administration of criminal law. (Kind of skip those guys if I could.) Part of the purpose of this project and my talk here today is really the ambition of
making more visible and explicitly trying to make problematic the new circumstance of racilalized mass incarceration, to make clear that it is new, to make clear that it is a product of public policy,
to make clear that it is having dramatic social effects. It’s not something that should be regarded as happening out there normal and necessary and functioning exactly as all right-thinking people
hope that it should. I don’t believe that’s the case. It’s reforging the troubled connection between how our legal system functions and the racial divide, a link that should have been growing
weaker and less problematic, has been growing stronger and deeply troubling instead and lastly this creates a circumstance, I think, where we really need a fundamental reframing of political discourse
and policy making with regard to our crime response conflicts. And, I think this notion of transgressing boundaries rather then reforging them, finding ways to proactively break them down and reduce
inequalities, certainly ought to be our mission and what much of our research directs us towards, and I thank you all for letting me share this bit of work with you. CYNTHIA FUCHS EPSTEIN: Thanks so
much, well we’re transgressing boundaries. I now want to introduce Gloria Steinem. I speak for members of the ASA in thanking Gloria Steinem for agreeing to come to this meeting of the American
Sociological Association, which she has done at some personal sacrifice. She agreed to seize the opportunity, because I promised her she had the chance to alert new generations of sociologists to the
continuing issues men and women face in today’s society. And of course, who could better represent the theme I chose for these meetings, great divides, transgressing boundaries. Steinem as you know
has been responsible for waking up American women to the restrictions on their opportunities to function as full human beings for more than 30 years. She has been an untiring speaker and writer from
the time she helped fund the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1971; the Women’s Action Alliance that same year, and the Coalition of Labor Union Women in 1974. Her political activities in the
front lines and behind the scenes is her ongoing project. Some of you younger people may not know that early in Gloria Steinem’s career she played the role of a Playboy bunny to do research on the
sexual objectification of women, and I thought it was sort of interesting to think about that as kind of atroped from Playboy bunny to Energizer bunny who on behalf of equality ever since. Of course
many generations of readers have become informed through the magazine Ms. which she founded in 1972 and which she edited for many years. Quick of wit and keen of eye, a natural sociologist, Steinem
has brought to visibility and consciousness many of the entrenched practices women are forced to comply with in their daily lives and urge them to engage in Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions,
the title of one of her books, a person who was unfailingly gracious and open to people of all races and conditions of life, Steinem lives according to her credo of breaking down boundaries in ways
too numerous to mention. In the spirit of the positive consequences of transgressing divides, Gloria will speak on breaking out of invisible prisons. GLORIA STEINEM: First I want to thank Dr. Bobo for
making us want to storm the Bastille, which is what we should be doing. And not being tax deductable myself, I would like to point out that this is not only the result of Bush’s policies, but also
his cronies, as we now have the prison industrial complex in which he, Texas, and his policies have led the way in the privatization of prison and making prisons into profit centers. And, you know,
you’ll understand this example when I get to the end, but I have to say when I was listening to Dr. Bobo, by way of contrast, I was thinking about ancient cultures, which as you’ll see at the end,
is my obsession for the last decade or so, and thinking about one culture in Ghana which also isolates its prisoners, which seems to be a universal way of dealing with people who have committed truly
antisocial acts because we are communal creatures and isolation is the greatest punishment. But, after the isolation they bring the person back into the community and spend days telling that person
every good thing they have ever done. I mean, this is what could be, and this is what we have, as examples if we will look to them. I especially want to thank Cynthia too because we’re here because
of her, and she has spent four decades producing the kind of scholarship that leads to activism and the kind of activism that listens to scholarship, and that is so very precious to us and so rare. I
want to thank all of you for letting me, who only has a BA degree come and address all of your good heads and great hearts, it means a very great deal to me. I also want to thank you for the whole
idea of public sociology which is so very, very important now. Maybe we’ve all been a little bit alarmed by the degree to which scholarship is sometimes put in academic forms that reduces its
usefulness. I’m always threatening to put signs on the road to Yale that say “Beware, Deconstruction Ahead”. And, I personally have never seen a regime in Washington more devoted to deep sixing
all facts and all scholarship from the facts about global warming to those about weapons of mass destruction to those about sex education, and they seem to think that facts about sex leads to more
sex, by which measure the human race would’ve died out long ago. I have to say that on some days I feel we are being governed by the religious zealots that our European ancestors came to this
continent to escape. For all of these reasons, and more, your profession, which may be the most credible bridge between the so-called public and the so-called private between the premises of
governance and the politics of lived experience between democracy and the Democratic families without which democracy can never truly survive. Your profession has never, never been more important,
more pivotal, more desperately needed. After all, I think this is the first time in human history that the meeting of the metaphysical and the physical of the religious and the political can have such
devastating impact for so many, no matter how we live or what we believe. Religious beliefs that value life after death more than life itself have finally coincided with weapons that can deliver death
massively. A belief in Doomsday, whether it’s the Christian rapture in which some of our elected decision makers or semi-elected decision makers say they believe, or the Islamic paradise that
leaders in other cultures exploit. Those beliefs have finally coincided with Doomsday weapons. So, now more than ever you and I must act, not just study, popularize knowledge, not just accumulate it
and broaden the understanding that society is acting on. We must become the living bridges between the private and the public as if our lives and millions of other lives depended on it because they do
and ours do. No pressure here, right? Since we see what is possible within parameters, the so-called frame that we all speak of now, and as the frame changes so does our idea of what is possible.
I’d like to share with you the frame within which I’ve seen possibilities change over time, past, present, and future. Here are three frames that are more or less where we’ve been, where we are
or where we should be now, and where we could be going for a safer more egalitarian, more communitarian future. When I checked into this world both as a child and later as a writer and activist, and
this is probably true for a lot of the golden oldies here, the frame was still biology is destiny. At least it was what was supposed to be biological. Race was still seen as some deep biological
reality rather than as an elaborate fiction built on enshrining minor adaptations to climate. Everything from men’s upper body strength to their penile outer directedness was used to justify their
superior roles. Never mind that women’s better balance, endurance, and more protected genitalia could have been used to justify just the opposite. Penis envy was still assumed by many, and womb envy
wasn’t even brought up, which would’ve been okay if those two things had been understood as entirely political, but they weren’t . They were seen as biological and immutable. Similarly, the
supposed greater physical strength of some racial groups of men was used to justify their consignment to hard physical labor. Never mind that by the gender standard of strength means superiority,
white men would have been inferior and so on. When it comes to prejudices in support of power, consistency is a pasty jewel. I remember that even in the early ‘70s, Senator Murphy of California,
remember Senator Murphy of California? One of the many right wing show business figures that have been given to us in political life by what is supposed to be a left wing profession. I don’t
understand. He actually got on television and said that, with a straight face, that Mexicans were naturally better farm workers because they were built closer to the ground……and he stayed in
office. This was true in spite of an attorney general at the time who is extremely short. All of this is an embarrassment now, but let us not forget how recently biology was destiny, and how recently
we ignored the fact that the range of difference within one race or one sex was and is greater for all purposes other than the very narrow ones of resistance to certain diseases racially, and
reproduction sexually, if we choose to reproduce, than the generalized group differences between races and between sexes. In fact, when a lot of us checked in we were barely passed the era in which
criminality was supposed to be inherited too. When the prisons of the old world were emptied into the ships going to the so-called new world, and incidentally all this conquering of the so-called new
world was religiously justified by the Papal bowl, gives new meaning to the Papal bowl, decreeing that the residents of the so-called new world had no souls, and thus there land was unoccupied and
open for the taking. I mention this because some Supreme Court judgements are still harking back to this claim and Native American scholars are still trying to get the Pope to take it back. It isn’t
as if one era ever ends cleanly. It ends unevenly, as it is preserved by those benefit, and pushed out by those who don’t, plus, like you in this room, who actually are interested in what is
accurate. What broke us out of this deterministic so-called biological frame, well I have to say that in my experience it wasn’t academia or the professions, it was the populist movements of people
who had caught the contagion of the idea of shared humanity. I hope that academia and the professions would have come to a more accurate frame than the so-called biological one eventually, but it was
the lived experience of personal unfairness and legal injustice that led the way. It was the great and still ongoing Civil Rights Movement of the ‘50s and ‘60s. To a lesser extent it was the young
men of every race, long hair and all who were refusing to go to Vietnam thereby challenging the idea that guys had to go off and get maimed or killed in an unjust war just to prove their masculinity.
There were also the leaders like Martin Luther King who brought these movements together, the movements for social justice and against the war. As an integral part and often the pioneers of this
movement, women were there. Think of Ella Baker who trained Martin Luther King. Women of all races therefore caught this contagion of shared humanity. The young ones especially couldn’t fail to
notice that even in these admirable civil rights and antiwar groups, they were still making coffee, not decisions, still mimeographing, now there’s a word from the past. How many people know what
mimeographing is? Not leading and still expected to serve sexually. This was the beginning of the brave sneck position papers about the status of women, and the understanding of the need for an
autonomous women’s movement. This radical analysis of a sexual caste system including all women, all women, all females, was added to a reformist movement that had started a few years earlier,
thanks to Cynthia and others, among professional women. Together these two strands wove into the women’s movement you see today. Always struggling, always struggling, and never quite struggling
enough with divisions of race and class, but more representative by race and class and also by age and sexuality than any other movement this nation has ever seen. Now, the frame of biology; The frame
of biology began to change to one of shared humanity with new possibilities that became revelations. If white men could do it, so could men of color. If men of all races got paid or treated or given
access to this or that, so could all women. The frame invited parallels and comparisons and among and between different kinds of discrimination, marginalization and oppression. This was the frame that
brought in the term Ms., a form of address that actually had been around for centuries to indicate female without disclosing marital status. We just brought it back and we popularized it to give women
the choice of an exact parallel to mister. Congresswoman Bella Abzug passed legislation requiring the US Government to offer this choice. And like all small things, it doesn’t matter how small the
thing is, if it stands for something big, it’s important. It was both resisted, as people here can probably remember when airlines would refuse to let you buy a ticket without disclosing your
marital status and the New York Times, I must stay stoutly resisted using Ms. for 15 years. I remained Miss Steinem of Ms. Magazine for 15 years, even while they changed Cashes Clay to Mohammed Ali
and every pronoun for transsexuals, but no Ms. It’s also been helpful in a big way because pro-equality women tend to use Ms., then on the voter registrations you could pick out the pro-equality
women regardless of what their party was. So, you know, we never thought of that, but it’s amazing how doing just one little thing actually has big implications. This shared humanity was also the
frame of equal pay and soon comparable worth, it was also the frame of the revival of the Equal Rights Amendment, which would have made sex-based judgments as unconstitutional as those based on race
and religion or national origin. This frame was the source of protest by secretaries against being office wives who are attached to their boss’s status and not having jobs that were an independent
part of the job ladder. For that matter, this frame was the basis of protest by guys coming back form Vietnam who couldn’t use their training as clerk typists to become secretaries. Or men trained
as medics who were shamed out of becoming nurses. I have to say that this frame is still necessary, it’s isn’t like it’s gone away. We still need women studies, African-American studies,
Asian-American studies, gay and lesbian, everything that really should be called remedial studies, you know. I have to say too, that I think sex-based and gender-based assumptions are still deep
enough to be confused with nature. Therefore, girls and women ourselves may need to draw parallels in order to see what is really happening. Would this joke about women of any race be okay if it were
told about Jews or about Italians? Would your professor designate Puerto Ricans to clean the Bunsen burners? As he does women in the class? Would a man’s clothing be used to justify his sexual
attack by other men? Would racial symmetry arguments cite the fact that white men were also lynched to ignore the racial politics of lynching in the way that gender symmetry has sometimes been used to
ignore the sexual politics of domestic violence? Also, I have to say that this frame of shared humanity and making parallels is a fantastic boon to writers, I recommend it. I’ve had such a good time
writing about what would happen if men could menstruate and we would hear endlessly about this inbuilt measure of time that allowed men and only men to become mathematicians, and a sense of connection
to the movements of the universe and thus astronomers and how there would be a national institute of dysmenorrhea and a military slogan that would say, “You have to give blood to take blood,” not
to mention why only men could claim stigmata, thus, be priests. You get the idea, you can just take it all from there. I must say, I’ve had an even better time reversing all of Freud’s unfortunate
ideas by creating Dr. Phyllis Freud who finds womb envy in every mans suit pocket and baseball. Not to mention, declaring men biologically incapable of creativity of any kind. So, yes we still need
comparisons and parallels to reveal the depth of bias against females, the depth of bias of the racial cast system, all that we have been dealing with and the undervaluing or completely unpaid status
of occupations done by devalued people. And, the truth still is any category that includes males is taken more seriously and paid better, or paid at all, than any category that is just females and/or
what females do. But, somewhere in the ’80 or ‘90s the frame began to change to a still wider one of human rights and therefore to enlarge our sense of what was possible. After all, human rights
have an implicit understanding that the standard needs to be raised for men too, that societies in general must be measured by a standard of human rights per se for everyone. This frame change came
from two sources, one from the now global, which is of huge change in those years, from the women’s movement became global, and human rights movements, and too, from the efforts of women’s
movements everywhere to persuade human rights advocates to include say the rape and forced pregnancy of female prisoners as torture or female genital mutilation and other restrictions on reproductive
freedom as an infringement on human rights. I have to say that this wasn’t easy and it still isn’t. Sometimes, there is still a deep conviction that what happens to men is politics and what
happens to women is culture. Generally, we’ve had to give up on changing the human rights groups themselves from within and form our own groups around the slogan, “Women’s rights are human
rights”. But, by now they’re pretty much changed, even though we still have to keep using that slogan, “Women’s rights are human rights” to keep women visible. I’m sorry to say that if you
just say human, as you can see from the history of humanism, the mind still tends to see only men. Perhaps the only other movement with parallel troubles is the gay and lesbian and bisexual and
transgender movement. It’s no accident that this form of oppression is often justified by cultural and religious arguments as is that against female human beings because in both cases, and it’s so
important that we keep this in our heads, in both cases it’s about controlling reproduction, that’s it. That’s the whole ballgame. It’s about making sure that all sexuality is directed toward
reproduction and takes place within patriarchal marriage so children can be properly owned. Otherwise, it’s important to remember otherwise you don’t understand why the right wing is against both
contraception and lesbianism. This parallel has been clear in history, whether it was the suppression of the women’s movement and the gay movement with the rise of national socialism in Hitler’s
Germany, where Hitler’s first act was to padlock the family planning clinics and declare abortion a crime against the state and homosexuals were marked for concentration camps. Or, with religious
fundamentalism now, it’s important to understand it’s all about reproduction. In any case, this frame of human rights is still teaching us that the status of women doesn’t just replicate that of
man, it is a measure of the welfare of men, children, and the whole society, and that I think is what this newer frame has allowed us to see. For example, a low rate of female literacy, high maternal
mortality, low female participation in government, all those are the surest indicators of high infant mortality, of male babies too of course, a high ratio of the gross domestic product going to just
the top men, while most men are just left out, a high number of refugees fleeing the country and low human rights for everybody. Take the examples of countries with the same levels of gross domestic
product, or GDP per capita, per capita but different status of women. France and Kuwait have almost identical GDPs per person, but the status of women in France is much higher, thus Kuwait’s infant
mortality rate is more than twice that in France and all the attendant ills of the society follow. Or take Finland and Singapore, almost identical GDPs, but women in Finland have a much higher status,
and Singapore is a dictatorship with twice the maternal mortality rate and severe restrictions on freedom for both women and men. Similarly, when women control reproduction by making decision about
our own bodies, when we have access in other words to contraception and to safe and legal abortion, infant and mortality rates plummet, life expectancy for both women and men goes up, environmental
stress diminishes and individual human rights are supported for all. There are many reasons for this, as Cynthia has pointed out in her wonderful speech, the boundaries between males and females, that
boundary is the primary pivotal and normalizing one for all other divisions into the leaders in the lead, the subject and the object, inferior and superior, it is the seed bed of all other boundaries.
It normalizes and introduces them all. Therefore, we will never have a deep or true democracy until we have democratic families. Another reason is physical. Women give birth to men too, hello. Their
short term survival and long term health depends on ours. Another reason is expressed sexually. I noticed that just this morning there is a headline that Bill and Melinda Gates have announced that
AIDS will never stop spreading unless the means and power to prevent it is put in the hands of women. Not to mention that we will continue if we have this boundary between men and women, inferior and
superior to confuse sex with violence, with aggression and to see it not just as the communication and empathy and mutual pleasure it is, but as a form of subordination and violence and even torture.
Another reason is expressed economically. As long as women are devalued, we will devalue everything we do. That’s why child care attendants make less than parking lot attendants, it’s not because
we value are children less than our cars, I don’t think. We will go on creating cheap labor pools and pink collar ghettos wherever we go and men will therefore be deprived of all those perfectly
good satisfying wonderful professions because they’ve been devalued by lack of money and by unfortunate social association of being done by women. Countries will go on doing lousy economic planning
because one-third of the work in non-agricultural countries and two-thirds in agricultural countries is done by women, and it’s not even counted as work, it’s completely, utterly, economically
invisible. Caregiving here and raising food for families, as well in other countries, is unpaid, not given any attributed economic value either, and it is literally invisible. Another reason why
women’s status affects everything is expressed psychologically. As long as traits are falsely labeled as masculine and feminine, instead of human, women will go on suppressing the two-thirds that
are labeled masculine and men will go on suppressing the one-third that are labeled feminine. We may suffer more, but men suffer as well. No one will have access to their full human selves, and as the
parable says, “The woman a man fears the most is the woman within himself”. And finally, we will all pay the price spiritually. In withdrawing God from women and nature, monotheism has prevented
women from sensing the universal within ourselves, and all of us from seeing ourselves as part of nature and nature as part of us. As Henry Breasted, the great 19th Century Egyptologist put it,
“Monotheism is but imperialism in religion.” Sort of clears your sinuses right up, doesn’t it? And men will be stuck with the role of being God-like, which is impossible. No wonder
stress-related diseases are… Not to mention a patriarchal, we all have a patriarchal God who is pretty awful to men as well as to women. So, you see, we still need this human rights universalist
frame. It isn’t as if it’s gone away. Its importance can be summed up by the fact that right now there is a Holocaust for females in the world every year. More than 6 million lives are lost each
year only because they were born female. Whether that means in rapes, murders, sadistic serial killings, domestic violence or crimes like the Montreal Massacre on this continent, or sex selective
abortions, infanticide, female genital mutilation, illegal and dangerous abortions, avoidable childbirth deaths and honor crimes that are mainly on other continents. It will go on and we will go on
losing 6 million every year. For that matter, the old biology is destiny frame keeps creeping back too, and I’m sure you all are much more aware of it than I am, and sociobiology, evolutionary
psychology and most perversely, I think, in charges of essentialism, if we use the word women in pointing out how societies treat women. Nor has 35 years of pointing out that racial and sexual caste
systems can’t be fought separately, really come home yet either. We have to; we must keep pointing out that you can’t maintain racial purity or visible difference and thus a racial caste system
itself without controlling women’s bodies as the means of reproduction. It’s why the race and caste systems have always grown together. Whether it was in Nazi Germany or in our own South, we can
always see the parallels. Where ever there is the most racism, there is the most sexism and vice versa. It is simply not possible to be a feminist without being an antiracist, and it is not possible
to be successful in uprooting racism without also being a feminist. Nonetheless, hope is a form of planning, so I’m going to skip to the future. I’m not trying to be a futurist here, which I think
is another form of kind of trying to dominate, you know, ‘I’ll tell you what your future is going to be. Step right up.’ But, I’ll take a stab at it anyway, just to free our hopes. What will
that future frame be? Well, actually when I really think about it, I think it will be a state of framelessness, and an ability to expect, be constantly open to, and also be secure in a state of
framelessness. A present and future model might be the new physics and its gradual replacement of the old mechanical model. We are held together by magnetism, but can also shift to a new magnetic
field. Each of us is literally protean in our form and in our abilities. As the new physics would put it, each entity is whirling in its place. There is no order, yet there is peace. All the
boundaries are melting. All the boundaries. Nationalism, always a fiction, is being transgressed, double meaning of transgressed, big time, by multinational corporations, by environmental ills and
cures, by the internet, and even by the concept of universal human rights. The boundaries of gender and sex are being transgressed by everything from human rights to transsexualism. The boundaries of
race are being challenged by global mobility, by research, by intermarriage and by understanding that we all have the same ancestors. I recommend to you if haven’t already seen it and/or for you use
in teaching, The Journey of Man a book and a documentary that uses DNA or the male part of DNA, which is why it’s called The Journey of Man. I was immediately pissed when I heard it was called The
Journey of Man, but then I discovered it had a logic to it, to trace the Quay or San, or so called bush people who are now confined mainly to the Kalahari in Africa, through their migration to
Australia, to Europe, to Asia, to North and South America and those DNA trails prove without at doubt that we all have the same ancestors. I don’t think there’s anyway you can see this film and
not understand that race is a series of minor adaptations to different climates, that those who went to cold climates where their hearts had to heat the body at a greater rate became shorter than
those who went to climates with more sun became darker to climates with less sun to get vitamin D became lighter skin. Its all clear and it’s all clear that we all have the same ancestors. But,
since I am not a physicist and I am not a specialist in DNA, I have to say that my own path to discovery and the idea of framelessness, or maybe you could call it a kind of pagan communitarianism, I
don’t know, we can work on what we want to call it. It has come from looking at ancient cultures and what remains courageously preserved of those ancient first cultures, the first cultures. It
started with the belated discovery on my part that the first people on this continent were the main inspiration for the Suffrage Movement. Nobody ever told me that. And, the biggest part of the
Underground Railway, nobody told me that either. Because, the Europeans who has come here at the low point of European history in a way, at the point which floods and famine had most, and
overpopulation because of the control of women’s bodies for endless reproduction, had so overpopulated Europe that it became expansionist, imperialist, colonial and turned them into the kind of
pioneers of hierarchy. So, where did they get the idea having come here? Where did they get the idea that it was possible to live otherwise? The answer seems to be that they got it from the first
peoples on this continent. That the suffrages or the future suffrages were meeting with the Seneca women, part of the Iroquois Confederacy, for instance, in upstate New York and there they were
sitting there at a dinner table with corsets and 180 pounds of hoop skirts next to women in nice shammy tunics and comfortable trousers which is where the bloomer costume came from. But, more
important, looking at cultures in which women control their own fertility, women were part of, not just part of the decision-making system, but the female elders chose the male chief. It was all about
balance. There was a sense of balance with nature. There were very profoundly different cultures and that seems to be a major and perhaps the major place where women got the idea that it didn’t have
to be this way. That it could change. And those cultures, because they still had their own territory, they were not yet until 1900 cosigned to reservations, and because they believed in the way, they
didn’t believe in race, they just believed that if you believe in the way you were fine. You know, if you didn’t harm nature and didn’t make decisions that were bad for seven generations forward
and so on, so they welcomed runaway slaves. We can see still how much intermarriage there was between cultures. It’s so interesting to discover that all those western movies we saw about the
terrible fate of white women who were kidnapped by native nations, it was actually the revers; the vast majority of white women kidnapped by native nations didn’t want to go home, because it was so
much better there. The men were appalled at how the European men treated their women and they were appalled at the idea of slavery. I think now law schools are beginning to teach that, in fact, the
confederate structure arrived at by our so-called, by our founding fathers, was advised by the elders of the Iroquois Confederacy, even though Benjamin Franklin looked at them with great contempt and
said, “Well, if these savages can do it, certainly we can do it.” But, nonetheless, it was the model for our Constitution. That was my first wake-up call. I’m going to make a button that says,
the truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off. You know, how come nobody ever told us this. Then it was going to visit the ancestors of us all, the Quay, the San, the so-called bush
people of the Kalahari, once 10 years ago, and once more recently. And, seeing the degree to which their culture has answers to so much that we are looking for, systems of governance that are all
about conflict resolution, systems of, it’s a long story, that’s a whole different lecture, we’ll do that later. It has continued with learning about other ancient cultures and the courageous
people who are hanging on, these genocided cultures hanging on to the knowledge that is so important for us all and is still visible in ongoing cultures. I mean there are 4 million people living in
West Sumatra, the biggest matrilineal community in the whole world, though there are others in China, many other places, where it’s about a balanced role between males and females, it’s not a
perfect society, but there’s not violence, men feel free to be nurturing to, you know, behave in ways that would be devalued in other cultures by the sex divide and incidentally this culture is
Islamic. It just shows that religion is what you make it. God says what you have in mind. Because this is a whole speech of itself, and because I think it’s hard to free our imaginations, you know,
to understand how different life was and could be again, if we did it before we can do it again. Not to romanticize the past, but to look at real examples, and because when we were kids we suspended
everything and just sat enthralled with the minute we heard once upon a time. So, I have started the last part of my speech “Once upon a time.” Once upon a time, indeed, for 95% of all the time
that human beings have walked this earth, 95%, we’re just talking about, you know patriarchy, racism, nationalism, all this bullshit is only 5% of human history. Why don’t we just declare it over?
It’s an experiment that failed. And this is the first ASA meeting of the post patriarchal, post nationalist, post everything. Anyway, for 95% of the time that human beings walked the earth, you and
I would have been living very differently, in small bands raising our children together as if each child were our own and migrating with the seasons. The whole idea of a settled life is about two
minutes old in human history. There were no nations, no lines were drawn in the sand. Instead, there were migratory paths and watering places with trade and culture blossoming wherever the paths came
together in patterns that spread over the continents like lace. This was far from a primitive way of life. Inner space was as explored by the many as outer space is now explored by the few. The ways
of nature and animals, of creating language and art, of healing illness and preserving food, of governing and resolving conflicts had already been perfected over millennia. If you and I had lived on
what is presently Australia, for example, disputes over land and watering places could have been settled by discovering who could sing the land the best. That is, who knew the lyric for each special
cliff that looked like a lizard or each hill that crouched like an animal and could sing the song that passed on the knowledge of a map of how to walk there and how long it took. If you and I had been
among the Quay or San of Southern Africa, are the ancestors of us all, our knowledge of the pharmaceutical use of plants would not yet have been equaled by modern medicine. We would have played games
whose winning tactic was cooperation not competition. What a concept, right? And, created a culture of mutual help that allowed us to survive. If you and I had lived in North America on the continent
once called Turtle Island, we would have made important decisions or solved disputes by sitting and talking circles where each person spoke as he or she was passed the talking stick and everyone
listened until consensus was reached, and groups that were too numerous to do this or too far flung, elders were chosen and leaders met in a sacred place or a longhouse. I think this was the beginning
purpose of the electoral college. What seems to be more characteristic of the hundreds of different original cultures and languages on every continent, was their elevation of balance, of and, not
either/or. Balance between the unique individual and the group between humans and nature, if those two were ever thought of as separate at all, which is no evidence in the language that they were,
they speak of the four-footed and the two-footed, between males and females, between needs in the present and the welfare of future generations. On Turtle Island, for example, children bore the name
of their mother’s clan, and then were also named after the first act that seemed characteristic of them. That’s what all those names come from, ‘Running with the….’ The chief was male, but
he was chosen by female elders who then had the task of advising him and even deposing him. The goal was not conquering nature, but living in concert with nature. In Southern Africa, fertility was
controlled by the use of herbs and timing so that women had, in this seems to be universal in these cultures, two or three children, two or three years apart. Virginity was not a value and sexuality
was a source of song and pleasure and humor, and ceremony. The most respected arts were finding food and water for the group, not hoarding it; and healing, not wounding. If violence came about in self
defense or in anger, there was an understanding that you might choose to be, or even have to be violent, but one violent act took four generations to heal. Most food was supplied by growing and
gathering, but animals were hunted and shared with the group with the understanding that no more could be killed than could be eaten. Even now, in the most ancient places where humans gather, say in
the Nile Valley, where it enters Africa, there are sculptures and drawings that show God as all living things, male and female, plants and animals, butterflies and birds. So, when we long for life,
not ruled by hierarchy, patriarchy, everything we know, hostility towards nature and each other, when we sense the means are the ends….Aha…. this is where Marx went wrong, that the ends justify
the means, big mistake, no, the means are the ends. Incidentally, his model, he enangles the model, was also the Iroquois Confederacy, they just left out the woman part, and look what happened? See?
We see that there are not just two choices, but a full circle of choices. When we yearn for a community that honors our uniqueness, whenever such longings come to us, perhaps we are experiencing
cellular memory. We can’t go back to the past, but we can open new possibilities by expanding the view of human nature that has been so narrowed in the very recent past. We have a few words left
from this long history, that is almost all of the human time on Earth, so I struggle to find some. Here are a few that survived from an ancient prayer and are meant to include everyone, male and
female. For we all come through the womb of nature and we all have the power to create. And it goes like this, “Blessed be my brain that I may conceive of my own power. Blessed be my breast that I
may give sustenance to those I love. Blessed be my womb that I may create what I choose to create. Blessed be my knees that I may bend so as not to break. Blessed be my feet that I may walk in the
path of my highest will.” Looking at the difference of between where we are and where we could be, I used to always used to use the butterfly as an image of inspiration. You know? Because even
tough-minded meteorologists now say that the flap of a butterfly’s wing can change the weather hundreds of miles away. But, it always sounded a little saccharin to me. You know, even though in this
room we make one hell of a butterfly, I have to say. And then I discovered why because I started to learn more about how butterflies are born, and to read about the process by which caterpillars
contain imaginal cells and those imaginal cells are fought tooth and nail by the immune system of the caterpillar who doesn’t want to change, and finally the caterpillar’s body is turned into a
gelatinous mass by the imaginal cells and it is that gelatinous mass that feeds the butterfly. So, perhaps we here should think of ourselves as imaginal cells, and we can understand that we will be
fought, and we will understand that it will be hard and we can understand that we may never see the butterfly. But, in fact, that is our purpose and our joy and our pleasure. It kind of doesn’t
matter how you choose to do it, only you know what is the right way to do it, it could be, what, refusing to talk about the workplace if it doesn’t include what is not counted as work. The third in
this whole society here that is unpaid work and not given any value, not difficult to get an attributed value for that work. Or, it could be doing an audit. You know, are there as many studies being
done of sex sameness as sex difference? Is the same amount of money being spent on racial sameness as racial difference? I don’t know. But, it would be interesting to do an audit. And, of course,
I’m assuming that from now on you’re going to ask on all your application forms if you’re registered to vote, where do you live, so on, so you can get out the information. Voting is not the most
we can do, but, it’s the least. Right? So, however it is that you wish to proceed, only you know. But, you in this room are very precious imaginal cells and I look forward to imagining with you.
Thank you. CYNTHIA FUCHS EPSTEIN: Our speakers would like you to speak too, and so we have a few minutes left and the forum is open. Gloria suggests we don’t have questions but we have some answers.
So, if you have some answers you would like to propose, she’ll give you the question. You’re so thoughtful. I can’t see you over there. I see. Do I see a hand? Oh okay, I can’t see back there,
but whoever it is, please stand up and be the first. Why don’t you come to the middle, if that’s too hard. That’s an innovation. Oh, wonderful. AUDIENCE MEMBER: (In audible) GLORIA STEINEM:
Thank you. Now, I just don’t want to turn into a new age person, you know, you is sort, not that there is, you know, but, but it is true, Rayna Green, you know, Rayna Green is a Cherokee
anthropologist at the Smithsonian, she always says to me, “Feminism is memory”. It sort of sends chills up, you know? And the same would be true of any empathy, of any cross race, all empathy is
memory. CYNTHIA FUCHS EPSTEIN: Other questions, comments? AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible) LARRY BOBO: That’s an absolutely terrific question and I think for me, can you hear me? I’m sorry. I’m
going to paraphrase. The question in a way is how can we bridge, kind of traditional social science empiricism and a more hopeful humanist vision, if you will, and keep those things together in
mutually sustaining one another. I think, in the spirit of the question. I think for me the question in the end, or the issue is captured very much by that strong assumption of sheer humanity, of
human rights, in that if you think about the specific problem of incarceration and what we do with people, it seems to me that too often the assumption is that once so marked, once so sustained, we no
longer have to think about you. That there is going to be no task of reintegration for you, that there is going to be no returning to the fold or being a member of the community again and that’s
clearly a falsehood. Right? That we are dealing with fellow citizens. We are dealing with people, even if we agree there is a period where one should be sanctioned and set a part from everyone else,
there is going to come a stage of reentry and reintegration. We have to have policies that are mindful that that’s for the vast majority of people who might ever be arrested or sanctioned, that’s
going to be the experience. It seems to me that we have adopted a set of policies that really proceed from a failure to recognize that shared humanity, that’s part of a much more humanistic vision
for society, so I think that one can do the work of marshalling the evidence that makes it clear, hopefully, eventually to society that something’s happening that ought to be regarded as problematic
and then bring along this message of what violation it is of a sense of shared humanity and really living up to some high standard of human rights, as I think Gloria’s comments epitomized. CYNTHIA
FUCHS EPSTEIN: Yes? AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible) GLORIA STEINEM: Okay, I’ll try to do her justice here. She’s a philosopher and also teaches women’s studies at Fordham and she is wondering if
the functions of imagination and memory are not group functions, that if you’re isolated you come to feel crazy and alone and therefore should we revive consciousness raising in a more diverse way
for many purposes for, you know, bringing people who have been in prison a community, you know, for all kinds of purposes. Actually, in my experience, consciousness-raising groups haven’t
disappeared, on the contrary, they have just changed forms. You know, they were called networking groups and then they were called book clubs, so they’re still around, but I agree with you it’s
not nearly enough, and I’ve always been envious of the Alcoholics Anonymous groups because you can go to any town and you’ll find in any school basement or church basement or something, a group
that meets three times a week and you can check into it and it’s free and it’s leaderless. I think we ought to do this, and I do agree with you that’s it’s very, very vital because we are
communal creatures and we require a community and we will start to feel alone, you know, and hopeless if we don’t have that community. And so, whatever form it can take for you, wherever you are,
you know, just putting notices up on the bulletin board and saying, you know. You know, the witches had the right idea, incidentally, because there were 13 in a coven, which is how 13 got to be a bad
number, and 13 is sort of the maximum that everybody can talk, everybody can listen and if you vote it doesn’t tie. So, you know, around whatever interests you have, your group represents, and
trying to make them diverse. But even, I must say, that even if they can’t be as diverse as one wishes, it’s important they exist first because otherwise you won’t be able to act on anything
else unless you have this alternate family that supports your hopes. But, it is absolutely crucial, I think, you know, to have some group you can meet with once a week or once a month, otherwise, you
do start to feel crazy or alone, it is absolutely crucial. AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible) GLORIA STEINEM: Maybe we should both answer that. In my experience it doesn’t matter where you start in the
circle, it’s a circle. You know, so you get to that. When I first started to go out on the road and lecture 35 years ago, we very consciously went in Black/White pairs, Flo Kennedy, Margaret Sloan,
Dorothy Pittman-Hughes. Flo used to refer to them as “little Eva pairs, something for everyone” . It meant that we got much more diverse audiences than either one of us would have got on our own,
and it was very, very helpful. But, what is more alarming to me is that much of the accounting of the women’s movement renders, especially Black feminists, invisible. You know, right now the public
opinion polls show that African-American women are far more feminists in all the issues that European American women are. It’s ever been thus, and I learned feminism from the women in the National
Welfare Rights Organization, you know, who had done an analysis of the welfare system as a gigantic husband, who…it was very funny actually, who looked for other guy’s shoes under your bed. But,
what’s alarming to me is that the sort of media and even sometimes scholarly version of the movement renders invisible the women pioneers who weren’t White, and I guess if I’d been smart enough
I could have thought about it when we were in those pairs because the press would ask me questions about the Women’s Movement and ask Dorothy or Flo or Margaret questions about the Civil Rights
Movement. We would let it go on for awhile and then we would name it, you know, to show what was going on, but it’s hard to surmount. But, the point is that we do complete the circle. Wherever we
start is immaterial because it just doesn’t work otherwise. It’s just not practical. LARRY BOBO: The point I will just quickly pick up on and echo and hopefully rekindle, if there’s a way to get
those tag teams out there again we really need it because I think there’s an era and moment and a feeling from a time in the past that needs to be recreated because I think we’ve lost some of it
and if there’s anyway to bring those sorts of pairings of powerful individuals together who make it clear, you have to assault these things in tandem, that you can’t just deal with race and
pretend that gender’s not there, and you can’t just deal with gender and pretend that race is not there, and that you can do either of those while ignoring class and equalities or what have you
that they have to be done and I think in a way we’re all feeling the absence of on the one hand a very powerful galvanizing social movements of the ‘50s and ‘60s era that you talked about. And,
on the other hand, the astonishing coalescence, resources, and power of that monolith on the right that is generating a greatly antithetical set of narratives about imagining the future and continuing
any number of the unwanted circumstances that seem to dominate our time, so if we can re-create those pairings and moments and circles of discussions, that would be an absolutely fantastic thing. It
matters both practically within the academy in a professional sense, and a larger social transformation moving toward greater justice sense as well. GLORIA STEINEM: Actually, I think the right wing
helps, don’t you? Because they are against everything, if we ever needed somebody to prove our coalition, they gave it to us. CYNTHIA FUCHS EPSTEIN: I’m going to take a few questions or comments
in sequence now because we don’t have much time left and to have the panelist respond at the end, so I’ll take let’s say three. One, two, three. AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible) CYNTHIA FUCHS
EPSTEIN: Now I will turn to our panelists for the last, not the last words, but the last words for the session. You want to speak first, Larry, and then Gloria? GLORIA STEINEM: Well, the question of
translating articles, I couldn’t agree more. If people can’t get it off the page, they won’t use it. You know, so, and I know how hard it is, even in Ms. Magazine, to remind ourselves all the
time to have six actions and three other sources of information at the end, you know, it’s hard, you absolutely have to do it,, and to remind yourself that just having written or said or done it
once, you know, it has to be done over and over and over in all kinds of different forms, and dramatized and taught and got out there. You know, I think the emphasis on doing it for one’s community
and who’s first, is really unfortunate because it keeps us from getting the information out there to a larger community and repeating, both of which are absolutely crucial. So, anyway that you can
find to do that, you know, through websites, and I mean you know we started a women’s media center you can find on the web and a women owned radio network that’s just starting called Greenstone
Media, we’re trying to get stuff out there and to make places where you can get your very valuable work out there. In terms of young feminists and is feminism relevant? I would just say two things,
one open your eyes, who’s getting attacked, who’s getting raped, who’s getting beaten up, who kills most women? People they know at home. Guys, not strangers, you know. So, part of it is, I
understand the will not to see. I spent a long time trying not to see. People used to say to me, “Oh, you write like a man.” And I would say, “Oh, thank you.” The truth is, we’re so angry,
we don’t want to admit it. It would just tap this huge well of anger, but the reason women are so much more depressed than men in general, though you know men frequently just can’t talk about it.
There’s a great book about male depression, I Just Don’t Want to Talk About It. It’s a great title — is that depression is so often anger turned inward. So, I would say anger is an energy
cell. Use it. Don’t be afraid of it, one. And, two, if young women have a problem; it’s only that they don’t know yet that they have a problem, you know: so remember that women’s, the female
pattern of activism by and large, is the reverse of men’s. Except for the men who are here, but men tend to be rebellious in youth and get more conservative in age. Women are conservative in youth
and get more rebellious with age, because women lose power as they get older, men gain power, because you replace their mothers, they replace their fathers, all the reasons we know women get more
radical with age. So, even if it doesn’t happen now, it will happen. Life will radicalize you, trust me. CYNTHIA FUCHS EPSTEIN: Well let me once again thank our panelists and let me charge you with
their message which is you have two jobs to do, one is the local revolution you are supposed to be engaged in, and one is the global revolution, which we hope you will direct your energies toward, as
well. So, be strong.