Watch this Time interview with feminist icon Gloria Steinem and say whether the statements below are true or false.
The activity is suitable for Advanced students.
1 The interviewer and the interviewee are friends.
2 Gloria Steinem has made a documentary about her life because she feels she’s dying.
3 Gloria Steinem thinks the fight for women’s rights is far from over.
4 Gloria Steinem didn’t get to write about the US Information Agency because of her report on Playboy.
5 Gloria Steinem has achieved many things in life because of her looks.
6 Gloria Steinem doesn’t think it’s a good idea for women to wear mini-skirts.
7 Gloria Steinem has just had a tramp stamp (a tattoo on the lower back) done.
8 The Dominique Strauss-Khan case has been positive for women.
Hi, I’m Belinda Luscombe. I’m an editor-at-large of Time Magazine and I have to admit this week that the person I’m interviewing, and this happens in many reporters’ careers, has actually had a material effect on my life, and in fact on many working women’s lives. But despite that, I’m gonna try not to go too easy on her. Welcome, Gloria Steinem. So you have participated, sort of made, a documentary about your life. Why a documentary about your life now? Are you dying?
No, they might think so, though, but I am planning to stay here till 100, at least.
What would you say to people who feel today that the fight for women’s rights is all over but the shouting.
I guess I would send them out for an eye exam, a hearing exam…
In other words, they are wrong.
But, but I’ve realised that that idea is, is out there because it’s a way of stopping progress. So, we hear words like post-racist, post-feminist, when people I think would not say post democracy. I think people would concede at a minimum that we haven’t reached democracy yet and we certainly haven’t reached equality of women of all races or racial equality.
In one of your earliest journalistic coups you went undercover at the Playboy Bunny Club to show what a dreary and dead-end and horrible job it was. In the documentary you express some regret about that. Would you like to explain why?
Well, at the time it was a gigantic career error because I had just narrowly begun to get serious writing assignments, and after I did that, suddenly, I could, I literally lost an assignment to write about the US Information Agency. But once feminism began to dawn on me, I realized, wait a minute, you know, I had more in common with the women who were working there than I did with the editors who sent me there.
I’m Australian, and my country’s most famous feminist, a woman called Germaine Greer is like you, very good-looking, and I wonder how much you think that helps when you are standing up for women’s rights.
First of all, I have to tell you, honestly…
… that Germaine Greer is good-looking.
No, no. Wait a minute, that I was…, when I become identified as a feminist I was already close to 40. So it was clear to me that before and after I was a feminist I had a completely different measure of how I looked. Before I was sort of a pretty girl, you know, attractive. Afterwards, I was beautiful suddenly, so it was more a comment on what people thought feminists looked like than it was on how I actually looked. The hard part for me is that sometimes that has been used to say that, well, she didn’t work, she just got this because she looks good.
But given that beauty has a strange persuasive power and that people, advertisers have successfully used beauty, you know, when juxtaposed with a product to sell something, has it ever occurred to you something Trojan-horsey about it?
Well, I’d love to be a Trojan horse for revolution. Good idea. No, I’m fine. I just think that we all ought to be free to look however we want to look. We ought to be free to wear whatever we want and, and be safe in the street. But if, if my being a pretty girl, listen… I’m 77 now I thought this would be over by now but anyway if that was helpful, fine. You know, then it disproved a myth.
So this is you. No botox. Nothing.
This is it. No, I hear botox hurts. I thought about getting a tattoo.
They had... .
I tattoo would be awesome on my neck.
No, I was get a tramp stamp at my 70th birthday.
Oh, a tramp stamp. What is your view of the Dominique Strauss-Khan situation?
I’m very grateful to the NYPD that plucked him off the plane. I’m very grateful to the maid who, you know, knew she had rights and brought an accusation. It’s a great step forward and one can see its impact, say, in France, you know, and on the woman who also suffered an attempted rape by him and is now bringing a lawsuit.
How do you feel about the direction feminism has taken with post-feminism and third-wave feminism? Are you encouraged by what you see?
Yes, no, I’m very encouraged because I see the humour and the hopefulness and the… they just have much better detectors than we did. They just don’t take the same amount of, you know, bias, and it’s great to see.
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