I was probably around 12 years old the first time I heard Gloria Steinem’s name from the pages of my mother’s issues of Ms. Magazine. At the time, I couldn’t fully understand or appreciate her enormous contributions to the lives of women around the world, nor could I have predicted the incredibly significant personal role she would come to play in my life, as a friend and mentor, as well as a longtime supporter of the 16 year-old women’s web site and non-profit organization I run, Feminist.com.
I have had the enormous pleasure and honor of interviewing Gloria numerous times, as I did once again this past week, to mark the occasion of a film celebrating her incredible life, in the new HBO documentary In Her Own Words which premieres on HBO this coming Monday 8/15 at 9pm EST. In true Gloria fashion, she is using the film as a rallying cry to launch an intergenerational dialogue about the future of feminism, through an online campaign called In Your Own Words organized by the Women’s Media Center, an organization she co-founded 6 years ago with Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan.
I was thinking about how I would answer the question presented by the In Your Own Words campaign about my own personal vision for the future of feminism. As the founder of Feminist.com, as you can imagine, I could write a book about the topic, but here are just a few of my thoughts. First off, my hope would be for a coordinated global commitment to eradicate the widespread discrimination, oppression and violence against women and girls, that should be seen not as “women’s issues” but human rights abuses that affect us all. We need to amplify the message that we all benefit in a world where women and girls are educated, valued, and empowered, as well as equally represented in positions of influence and leadership, in media, politics, the arts and the corporate world. I also believe men should feel increasingly included in feminist work, as both allies for women’s equality and as beneficiaries in a movement that aims to re-imagine and transform gender roles that impact them too. At its root, feminism should promote our interdependence with each other, nature, and all living things, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or any of the many other labels that can divide us.
And as Gloria’s groundbreaking book Revolution from Within posited many years ago, this is not only about outer world change but about inner transformation and an evolution of consciousness – that men and women, boys and girls, be educated, encouraged and enabled to embrace the full expression of the intrinsic human qualities within their soul. To me feminism ultimately is a movement to spark our own inner light and illuminate the world.
I hope people everywhere will watch the HBO film and participate in the online campaign as a way to celebrate Gloria and offer her our thanks – for her voice, for her courage, for her indomitable, beautiful and inspirational spirit.
Here are some of my favorite quotes of Gloria’s from my interviews (many of which appear in my book, Daring to Be Ourselves – the photo of us on this post was taken at the Daring to Be Ourselves book launch/Feminist.com 15 year anniversary party last December at which Gloria delivered a wonderful speech).