Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gloria Steinem: Bad Quotes and An Accurate History

Gloria Steinemphoto © 2008 Mindy Kittay | more info (via: Wylio)

The following quote has been heating up tumbler recently.

“A woman reading Playboy feels a little like a Jew reading a Nazi manual."

I wondered where this quote came from, and after a short google search, I discovered that it appeared in Time Magazine, on Monday March 20,1972

There can be no doubt that this was a horrific statement to make, and as analogies go, I fail to see how one could get much lower.  What I find interesting, is that the quote is 39 years old and yet, there is a very active conversation occurring about this. If we are all honest, we know that despite their fight for women's rights (actually read: White, cisgender, straight, able bodied, middle class rights), second wave feminism was full of problems.  Even though many feminists today acknowledge this to be a fact, some are quite dedicated to these women and see them as heroes. As these second wave feminists pass on, they have been deified: for example, Mary Daly and most recently Geraldine Ferraro.

Shakespeare wrote: "I come to Rome to bury Cesar. The good that men do lives after them, while the evil is oft interred with their bones, so let it be with Cesar".

This very same sentiment could be used to describe the attitude towards the passing of White feminists sheroes who were a part of the second wave. It is only those who were erased, attacked, oppressed and marginalized that cannot forget what these women represented, and while it may be comforting for some to wrap themselves up in female solidarity, to do so is to purposefully harm millions of women.  Are the rights of a small segment of women really worth all of this pain?

I know that this quote is 39 years old, but it still stings today, and that is why we should remember it, alongside whatever else Steinem has done.  Even today, marginalized women are accused of being divisive when they talk about the issues they face that are being ignored, or the appropriation of their lives and their struggles.  There is an absolute provable history for the basis of this charge, but it is ignored because quotes like this are forgotten, and lost to the sands of time.  Just as gains for women need to be remembered, the failures need to be acknowledged, because we can never have true solidarity until 'woman' is truly an inclusive term.

Please use this thread to discuss why these quotes are lost, and how we can all take part in remembering those who have been erased or oppressed.