Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Happy 80th Birthday Gloria Steinem, Drinking the Elixir

Today Gloria Steinem turns eighty. But truth be told she looks like she is fifty. I know, I met her a few weeks ago. I was with my sister at our alma mater, MCLA, and Gloria was speaking. The setting was laid back, maybe a few hundred people, and Colleen and I were first in line to take our seats. (We even got in a little early to 'test' the stage before anyone had arrived.)

Listening to Gloria was every bit the exhilarating experience one would expect as a baby boomer, born in the very age that Gloria had taken a strong hold of the women's liberation movement. She propelled women's rights forward in only the way someone as smart, passionate, and honest as Gloria could. She admits to realizing her beginning in the feminist movement was when she was speaking out about abortion, it all clicked then, she says. She had one in her early twenties. She would later coin the phrase, "reproductive freedom" meant to describe a woman's right to have a child, or not. She says her abortion meant she was directing her own life and taking responsibility for it.

Ms. Steinem had lots of terrific things to say about women and motherhood the night I heard her speak. My favorite was she acknowledged women who stay home to raise their children as a third of our nation's workforce. She also said there should be tax laws to support stay at home parents, assigning their work an economic value that they could then make tax deductible when filing taxes. I got a chance to thank her personally for this, and she said to me, "Of course, I mean c'mon."

It was an exciting night. On our way back from talking with Gloria we, again, stopped by the podium we had visited earlier and my sister spontaneously grabbed the last of Gloria's tea.

That night, after being with an icon who lead women up out of the trenches of oppression with sheer determination and keen insight, right in the very age we were born, (we would have been about five and six when Gloria began her mission) we felt invigorated! And guess what? We each took a sip of tea, an elixir we felt, something that would confirm that she, Gloria Steinem, feminist leader of the twentieth, and twenty-first century, was a part of us! Of course, I mean what else could we do, c'mon.

elix·ir (n.)                                              

: a magical liquid that can cure illness or extend life           
:  a substance held capable of changing base metals into gold