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Gloria Steinem: Democracy 101 our bodies belong to ourselves by Ann Treacy
February 20, 2020, 4:44 am
Filed under: Minneapolis

Thanks to my Women’s March MN buddy Teresa for the invitation to see Gloria Steinem get interviewed by Kerri Miller tonight at the University of Minnesota. What an honor to get a perspective from someone who has been focused on lifting up women for so long and has met so many smart and interesting people along the way. If I were in school Id’ be asking for extra credit from all of the things I learned tonight.

Lesson One: Democracy 101 our bodies belong to ourselves
Inherent in democracy is the idea is that people have agency over their own bodies and their voices. Gloria (yup, I’m going first name here) mentioned this in light of reproductive rights and the #MeToo movement. It seems obvious once you hear it but today women do not have agency over their bodies. Just earlier in the day I attending a Rally for Reproduction Freedom. Abortion is legal in Minnesota but there are a lot of hoops required. If a minor, you need permission from bother parents. Doctors are required to provide nonmedical info to patents, which as info on child support. You need a 24 hours waiting period. There are only 5 clinics in Minnesota that perform abortions and 3 of those are in the Twin Cities. You don’t need permission or a waiting period for a gun. And you don’t need a waiting period for any other medical procedure. Women’s reproduction should be healthcare, not politics.

Lesson Two: Never too young
When asked if there was anything she could change about her life as an activist Gloria said, I would have started earlier. It sounds like she felt the need but lacked the boldness at a younger age. It made me proud of dragging my own three girls to demonstration and rallies at a very young age – certainly stroller age. It’s a different era to be sure and I think that shift in personal and community boldness has helped us raise girls who are more comfortable participating and leading social change at young ages – including the Youth Strikes for Climate Change and Students Demand Action for gun control.

Lesson Three: Christianity is a Patriarchy
Women give birth; as Gloria says, we corner the market on that. The church offers rebirth in baptism. Even better they do it to erase the original sin inherently passed from generation to another to anyone born of woman. Even better than rebirth away from sin, the church promises life after death, a reward that cannot be proved. Instead of celebrating birth, the church denigrates it by trying to one-up the process.

Lesson Four: ERA is good economic stimulus
Equal Rights for women, equal pay for women would put $500 billion into the economy each year. OK, Gloria wasn’t so specific but I looked it up

If all working women in the United States aged 18 and older were paid the same as comparable men, women’s average earnings would increase $6,870, from $38,972 to $45,842 (or 17.6 percent) annually (Table 2). Added up across all working women in the United States, this would amount to an earnings increase of $512.6 billion, or 2.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016 (see Figure 2 for state-by-state data).[1] Put another way, U.S. women—who are also consumers, savers, and asset owners—lost $512.6 billion in 2016 due to the gender wage gap.

Lesson Five: Equality won’t be reached until child raising is equal
Historically raising children has fallen to women. To a huge extend that’s still true today. I always thought that issues around that related to unpaid work impacting perceived value of women and just the lack of economic security for women who have stayed home. Gloria brought up another reason: some men regress when admonished by a woman, especially in the workplace and more strongly when that woman is a supervisor or otherwise some power over him. That may be because for some men, the last woman in charge was their mother. They haven’t learned to accept direction or criticism from a woman.

It’s a lot to take in – in an hour-long show. I’ll be taking it all in over the next few days. Plenty to think about.


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