Gloria Steinem's almost 80, and The Washington Post never tires of boosting her as one of the greatest Americans walking the planet. On the front of the Style section on Tuesday, former Post reporter Annie Groer freelanced from the Jaipur Literary Festival in India to promote how "Steinem goes back to her activist roots."
The Post thinks Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann are fringy weirdos, but think nothing of Steinem telling a bunch of Indians that we're all oppressed by gender pronouns like "he" and "she." To the Post, Steinem is "eloquent" when she speaks, a "vocal commander" for the underprivileged (if you leave the "fetuses" out):
JAIPUR -- For nearly six decades, Gloria Steinem has been one of America’s most visible, vocal commanders in the ongoing war for the rights of women, children, minorities and the poor. But few know that Steinem, who turns 80 in March — yes, eight-zero— traces her battle tactics to the two years she spent in India right out of Smith College....
Her latest book is “As If Women Matter,” a collection of her game-changing journalism. She is, after all, author of the undercover exposé as a Playboy Bunny written in her 20s; co-founder of Ms. magazine; anti-Vietnam warrior; champion of civil, human and reproductive rights; winner of the Medal of Freedom; and eloquent commentator on such issues as prostitution, pornography, human trafficking and serious paternal parenting.
We're all blessed by her setting straw men ablaze:
She slammed the “blame the victim” mindset, which says that women who wear short skirts or show some cleavage essentially deserve whatever they get: “We should be able to be nude and be safe” in public, she said.
Well, yes, in a perfect world, but at the moment, it is imperfect enough to drive gangs of young men to sexual violence to prove their superiority, Steinem said. That same power imbalance fuels prostitution, and she advocated adopting the “Nordic model” of decriminalizing sex for hire by fining and publicly “embarrassing” the johns and protecting rather than jailing the prostitutes.
Aren't leftists always trying to reinvent America on a "Nordic model"? Groer wants everyone to know Steinem was mobbed for her autograph.
When her session ended, dozens of women in the audience approached the stage seeking Steinem’s autograph and taking her photograph. The approaches continued all day as she attended talks by other writers at what is called the world’s largest free literature fest. About 250,000 people were expected to attend the five-day event in a region where sales of dead-tree books are rising, not falling, said the festival’s co-chair, British historian and author William Dalrymple.
Steinem was a magnet for countless readers, male and female, wanting to thank her for promoting equality or to share their own pain. They included a married mother of two who was afraid to tell her family that she had been repeatedly raped by an uncle.
At this gathering of mega-talent from India, South Asia and around the world — winners of Nobels and Pulitzers, National Book Awards and MacArthurs as well as countless other commendations for literary, political, cultural and scientific brilliance and innovation — Steinem moved elegantly and unhurriedly, stopping to listen to scores of devoted readers.
One reason may be that, at age 79, she remains instantly recognizable, which is to say she still looks fabulous: tall, thin and wearing those signature glasses, New York black trousers and a sweater topped by a scarlet wool shawl. And oh, her hands! Weathered, to be sure, but mesmerizing as they moved constantly, balletically, around her face.
At an informal session with reporters, when the subject of Hollywood and Bollywood came up, she noted that almost any movie starring women discussing real life is called a “chick flick.” Then slyly, wryly, she suggested that movies starring men who rarely speak but commit multiple acts of murder and mayhem ought to be called “prick flicks.”
Not likely in the male-dominated industry of either nation.
But Steinem said it as if it matters.
In a half-hour video posted on YouTube, Steinem said some things the Post writer didn't find noteworthy, but give you a flavor of radical leftism. Her interviewer Ruchira Gupta talked about how Steinem believed a "cult of masculinity" led to "fascism in the nation-state" and raised her old article "If Hitler Were Alive, Whose Side Would He Be On?" Then there were these nuggets of radicalism:
-- "There are many languages in this [country] and in my country that don’t have 'he' and 'she,' you know, they don’t have gendered pronouns, so I...the adversary gets to us, I think, by saying there’s no choice, you know, that it’s always been this way, and it always will be this way."
-- "Patriarchy....controlled reproduction. It’s all about reproduction. If women didn’t have wombs, we’d be fine."
-- We have our religious right, too, big time! And I think in a deep sense, we have succumbed to the idea that religion, you can’t talk about religion. But actually, religion is just politics – in the sky. And so [laughs] if God is man, man is God. Even when I was a child, I wondered why Jesus had blond hair and blue eyes in the middle of the Middle East. It’s about racism, right? Now you have more of a variety of gods, which I admire, because --[Laughs] That helps.
"But I do think, speaking for myself, I think about spirituality, which means the essence, to me, of God in all living things. It is profoundly democratic – it connects us to nature, it connects us to each other. Religion is profoundly political, and the withdrawal of God from nature and women happened at distinct times in history....Henry Breston, who was a great Egyptologist – ‘Monotheism is but imperialism in religion.’ [Nods, pauses with palms out] Interesting."