He wasn’t on the road when he got the news, but he could have been. At 87, Gloria Steinem (Toledo, Ohio), the iconic feminist, Princess of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities, continues to travel as much as possible, convinced that something is pulling her onto the road. He does not believe that he is the only one. He says that something compels us to travel even as a species. “I think it is part of the nomadic spirit of humanity, of that time in which the seasons forced us to move to survive, and in which, fortunately,” he attacks, “there was no nationalism.”
He is in New York, in front of an office computer that takes care of his affairs, the Gloria Steinem Office, more noisy than usual since it opened. Mrs. America, the series that recalls the beginning of the fight for equal rights in the United States – and incidentally, the second wave of feminism – and that, as she has already said, she did not like “anything”; an autobiographical play and film The Glories. Wear black and smile all the time. The first thing he says when picking up the video call is that “it has been worth it” to live “almost 100 years” to receive the Princess of Asturias Award.
“No, seriously, it’s an incredible honor to join a roster of Nelson Mandela, Jane Goodall and Margaret Atwood. I do not know of another award that has this importance for those of us who have been, in many ways, outside the system. That is, for fighters, each in his own way, for something of his own, which at the same time has become universal ”, he says. The woman who founded the essential Ms., a magazine dedicated, in the words of Florynce Kennedy, “to preparing the revolution, and not just dinner”, believes that journalism today has broken all borders but has receded in “verisimilitude”.
In other words, “the democratization of the media has been a huge step in terms of access to creation and also its reception, we are no longer limited by the sources of information that we can access, but the way in which we are not controlling what is published is making them lose part of their power, and that can be dangerous, “he says. And he concludes: “Today it is as important to attend to the division by gender as it is to poverty.” “We should guarantee access to technology, and education in it, because there are parts of the world where they still have nothing,” he says.
Regarding what remains to be done in the feminist struggle, she assures: “The salary gap is still there, and it is not small, and there is also the issue of care; As long as that is not solved, there will not be equal opportunities, boys and girls have to feel that the same is expected of them and for that they must grow up in a world in which what they see is exactly that ”. He insists that we will not have a valid model of democracy until that happens. Any advice for the future of that fight? “No, I fully trust the criteria of the young women, they will know exactly what to do,” he replies.
His intention has been, from the beginning, to share stories, as he tells in the prologue that precedes My life on the road (Alpha Decay), a kind of manifesto about that nomadism in which he grew up and that he considers synonymous with freedom, especially for women. For a long time he had a phobia of public speaking, but one day he realized the “magic” that occurs when someone tells something to a group of strangers, and he did not stop doing it. His story was never his story, but all the stories he had heard along the way.
“One of the simplest paths to profound change is for the less powerful to speak as much as they listen and the most powerful to listen as much as they speak,” he says. She dedicates the award to her, her Princess of Asturias, “to any girl who is currently being born in a country where there is not yet equal access to education or health, and in which no one is going to encourage her to be the same. that she has no way of knowing what she will want to be. That girl is something unique, a miracle, as is any human being on this planet. I dedicate it to her, and to her future ”.
And before hanging up – his time is limited, he says – he assures that if something gives him hope for today’s world, it is what the pandemic has done to us. “There has been a kind of mental globalization. In other words, during the worst moments of the pandemic, all barriers have been knocked down. We have stopped thinking about differences of gender, race and class to think only about our survival as a species. I believe that we are going towards a future in which we will be seen and conceive of others as something of value in itself. Each one of us, ”he says.
He also explains that a sense of humor is essential to lead any type of movement. That it has worked for her. Why? “If you think about it,” he says, “laughter is the only completely free human emotion. No one can coerce a laugh. They can force you to feel fear and even need can force you to love someone. But no one can make you laugh if you don’t want to. Laughter is an expression of freedom. It is also a good way to discover how free you are ”.
MUSA AND MYTH OF FEMINISM
In 1963, a young journalist from Toledo, Ohio, rose to fame by publishing a report in which she posed as a Playboy bunny in Hugh Hefner’s mansion to denounce the conditions in which these girls worked and the proposals and pressures they made. they endured. A few months later on a taxi ride she had to put up with Gay Talese, the priest of New Journalism, introducing her to the novelist Saul Bellow saying: “Do you know how every year there is a cute girl who comes to New York and pretends to be a writer? ? Well, Gloria is that cute girl. ” It was neither the first nor the last time that the stunning Steinem was tried to ignore her, but this indefatigable activist, defender of equal rights for women, precursor of reproductive freedom and unstoppable fighter against injustice (be this apartheid laws or the Gulf War), has shown over half a century that it never gives up.
She has said on more than one occasion that more than her suffragette paternal grandmother, it was her mother’s frailty – who suffered a severe nervous breakdown and went through serious difficulties after separating from her father – that made her understand from very early on the situation of precariousness and inequality suffered by women. The other experience that marked her was an abortion at the age of 22 in London. Before becoming a journalist, Steinem worked for the CIA in the so-called Independent Investigative Service. From the magazine ‘Ms.’ she has fought for journalism focused on women, and since the National Women’s Political Caucus, founded in 1971, she has supported their entry into politics. In 2005, together with Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan, she created the Women’s Media Center. He has written more than half a dozen books, has inspired plays (such as the adaptation of his memoirs ‘Gloria: A Life’ released in 2018), television series (appears in ‘Mrs. America’ as the fierce adversary of Phyllis Schlafly in the fight for the equality amendment of the best) and films (‘The Glorias’), because Steinem is a fundamental and inimitable icon in the struggle of women, that inspiring and indomitable figure that every great cause needs. / ANDREA AGUILAR