Steinem’s Talk Touts Benefits of Feminism for Men

Writer and Activist Visits for Lecture as Part of Gender Studies Series

May 11, 2010

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem told a recent UT Dallas audience that women are far from the only beneficiaries of the feminist movement.  She sees hope for men as well.

The renowned writer and activist addressed a crowd of 900 at  the Activity Center last month as part of the 2009-10 Gender Studies Lecture Series.

Top 10 Ways that Men
Benefit from Feminism

Structured like a David Letterman countdown, Steinem’s list of benefits to men included the following:

10. Through feminism, men are liberated from stereotypes, too.

9.  Women’s skills are required to raise children. But, men have them too.

8.  Men have been shortchanged by being told to marry someone who can cook rather than someone who can be a companion. “I’m sure that men who have been trained essentially to marry their housekeepers were lonely,” Steinem said.

7.  The women’s movement can increase a man’s life by an average of four years.  Steinem said that if men were to eliminate causes of death typically attributed to masculine roles, including deaths from violence, speeding and tension-related disease, their life expectancy would almost equal women's.

6.  Boys can remain close to their mothers.

5.  If men aren’t hooked on dominance and hierarchy with other men, they are saved from the self-loathing that comes from the need for control.

4.  Laughter can once again become commonplace, even in serious rituals.  “In ancient cultures like Wilma’s, seriousness and laughter are not separate,” said Steinem.

3. Men can continue discovering talents, without being divorced from them.

2. Sex and race are intertwined. You can’t uproot one without the other.   “There’s really no such thing as being a feminist without being an antiracist,” she said. 

1.  Eliminating the sexual caste system – the cult of femininity and masculinity – eliminates the root cause of almost all violence.

“It’s rare that we have a guest who has changed the world, even rarer a guest who’s changed the world uniformly for the better - for individual women, for individual men, for women and men, for American society and ultimately world society,” Executive Vice President and Provost Hobson Wildenthal said in welcoming the crowd.

Steinem took the stage as the crowd offered her a standing ovation. Her opening remarks drew on her recent experience with the late Wilma Mankiller, former principal chief of the Cherokee nation.

Steinem weaved elements of ancient cultures through her talk, beginning with the earliest meetings of European and Native American women. She linked key moments in American history to Native Americans and their culture, noting that they aided runaway slaves who used the Underground Railroad because “they believed in adopting people.”

“In trying to bridge the ancient and the still-existing cultures of equality and balance with nature, Wilma is with us tonight, because we are struggling to rebirth the balance between women and men,” said Steinem. “If it was on this ground before – and it was – it can be on this ground again.”

Steinem condensed her thoughts on gender equality’s benefits into a “top 10” list, in the style of television comedian David Letterman.

“I have to say my list isn’t as funny as his, but mine is much more helpful,” she said.

“There’s a lot to do, but there’s so much to gain, because we have men and women,” Steinem said.   “We have friendship to gain, we have our talents to gain, we have our health and our longevity to improve, and we have the discovery of all of the human qualities, the magical qualities that are in each one of us. 

“It’s kind of like being reborn, and I think a lot of people experience it that way.”

Dr. Karen Prager, professor and program head of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies gender studies program, acted as the event’s master of ceremonies.

Lauren DeCillis, director of the Galerstein Women’s Center, led the audience interaction portion of the event. Topics ranged from the struggle between self-expression and conformity to the proliferation of plastic surgery among teenage girls seeking to change their looks.

The event concluded with a book signing.

Steinem was the featured speaker of the 2009-10 Gender Studies Lecture Series, which invites experts from around the country to address gender issues. Her visit was sponsored by the School of Interdisciplinary Studies Gender Studies program, the Galerstein Women’s Center, the School of Arts and Humanities, the Multicultural Center, the Student Union Activities and Advisory Board (SUAAB) and the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement.

“The Office of Diversity and Community Engagement honors a collaborative approach with our strategic partners, including the School of Interdisciplinary Studies,” said Dr. Magaly Spector, vice president for diversity and community engagement. “The Gender Studies Lecture Series provides a diversity-rich dialogue for campus and community members interested in creating change for gender equality.

“We highly value the opportunity to learn from and to have such a great role model on campus.”


Media Contact: Karah Hosek, UT Dallas, (972) 883-5890, karah.hosek@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
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Gloria Steinem

Steinem weaved elements of ancient cultures through her talk, beginning with the earliest meetings of European and Native American women.

 

Crowd at Gloria Steinem event

Steinem was the featured speaker of the 2009-10 Gender Studies Lecture Series, which invites experts from around the country to address gender issues.

 

Gloria Steinem at a book-signing event

Steinem allowed time for book signings after her lecture.

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