For my birthday last month I got to meet Gloria Steinem.
Over the last year I’ve been working with Business Chicks on a number of their Melbourne events, and have had the chance to meet and learn from some incredibly important and influential women. Women I’ve looked up to in the past, or have since begun to follow because of what they’ve shared.
I’ve learnt about personal ‘branding’ from Nigella, time management with Zoe Foster-Blake, not being afraid with Sir Bob Geldof, rushing woman syndrome with Dr Libby and business lessons from a panel of three inspiring business founders, Kristina, Cyan and Jacinta.
But when Gloria’s name appeared in my inbox. . .
I felt a shift. In my whole world.
Listening to hear speak between thunderous rounds of applause at her incredibly quotable bites of wisdom. . . Another shift. And another.
Here was this woman I studied and fell in love with during a gender studies course at university, articles highlighted and dog-eared that shaped my world view; a woman who’s career trajectory was one that at various points of my life I hoped to emulate, sitting before me spouting off truths that shifted my very way of thinking as though it was just another regular day and she was chatting to a friend over coffee.
And then she was signing my book. And then she was putting her arm around me for a photo.
Hold on, while I pick myself off the floor and-slash-or pinch myself to make sure I’m not actually dreaming.
Without further ado, though I could ado for a lot longer, my key takeaways from Gloria Steinem chatting with Tara Moss with Business Chicks.
- Sometimes you just have to wait for your friends to be born, like she has with Lena Dunham and a host of other millennial feminists.
- Being in the majority does not equal power or ‘winning’.
- The difference between individuals is greater, because we are all unique, than groups, and one day we will all recognise that.
- One day we won’t need a word for feminists or feminism. It will just be called ‘life’.
- There’s no such thing as white feminism. If it’s white feminism it’s not feminism. Feminism is for everyone or no one.
- If you can buy shoes together, you can (r)evolutionise together.
- To say feminism is a white middle class movement is to make it invisible.
- Control of reproduction is the reason we’re in this mess (this mess being patriarchy). If we didn’t have wombs we’d be fine!
“If I had given birth to someone I didn’t want to give birth to, I couldn’t have given birth to myself.”
- Part of how you keep a group down is creating conflict and lack of respect between them.
“It’s taken me a long time to learn what to say when someone calls you a bitch: Thank you!”
- You can’t do it by yourself. That’s why we have friends and colleagues and groups and communities. That’s why it’s called a movement: you can’t do it alone.
- We’ve focussed on raising our daughters like our sons, now we need to focus on raising our sons like our daughters. Empathy is not a ‘feminine’ quality.
“When I was growing up domestic violence was just called life. In a lot of ways it was validating in that it may have been the only way of getting attention.”
- Reproductive freedom is a fundamental human right.
- We are rescuing the drowning person but we haven’t gotten to the stage of teaching them to swim or preventing them from drowning in the first place.
On living with the future in mind: “Reporters are always asking me what I’m most proud of, and I say, I haven’t done it yet!”
On Hillary: “It’s not only because she’s a female human being. I didn’t vote for Sarah Palin.”
- We must have leadership that looks like the country its representing.