East Carolina University hosted feminist icon Gloria Steinem on November 6 to give a lecture titled, “Reflection on Feminism.” Anthony Papalas, professor emeritus of history at East Carolina University, reviewed the lecture for the Pope Center for Higher Education. Here are some highlights of his review:
To give an accurate summary of Steinem’s lecture is not easy, for it careened like a cue ball around a billiard table. She began by admitting that women have made substantial gains in society, but then added that we aren’t in a “post-feminism” age because there is much to be done in areas of national health care and paid family leave. To Steinem, feminism demands more expansions of government power.
“How did we get into this jam?” Steinem rhetorically asked. Capitalism (or “patriarchy”– she uses the terms interchangeably) is at fault. It was capitalism that saddled women with a second-class status, she declared. Sometime around 5,000 or 500 years ago (she tended to be vague about dates) a patriarchal society emerged, taking control of women, enforcing its authority through violence, and propagating the myths that men are superior to women and that god is a blond, blue-eyed male. The state needed to control production for soldiers and workers and thus women fell completely under the control of a male hierarchy. To illustrate her point, Steinem noted that the first thing Hitler did when the Nazis took over Germany was to make abortion a crime against the state.
Perhaps there were some students and townspeople in attendance who knew how ridiculous those assertions are. Capitalism is a comparatively recent economic development that works on voluntary exchange, not violence. Living conditions for women (and men and children) began to improve only after capitalism had replaced feudal customs. That was also when the law began to recognize women’s rights. And as for the Nazis, is Steinem not aware that the name means “National Socialist” and that Hitler was completely opposed to liberty that is at the core of a democratic-capitalistic society?
Be sure to read the full article here, but brace yourself, Steinem is as radical as ever!