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Question: How is feminism today different from the way it was 30 and 40 years ago?

Gloria Allred:  I'm not sure how different they are actually because I've been practicing 35 years.  I mean, as a feminist I believe the legal, social, and political economic equality for women with men.  I often say if you're not a feminist then you're a bigot.  I mean, there is nothing in between.  It's like being pregnant: you either are pregnant or you're not.  What else is there?  There is no in between. 

So either you are for first class citizenship—that means you're a feminist—or you're for second class citizenship for women, which means to me you're a bigot or you're in support of insubordination or women instead of full equality, full partnership for women in each and every aspect of life.  So feminism is about improving the condition in the status of women and vindicating their rights.

Conservatives usually say, "Look how far you've come, looking to back to where you are now. Isn't that great progress?"  But as a progressive person I don't look to see where we're come from.  I look to where we should be.  And so no I don't think we've come far enough, because I'm judging by the gold standard and that is equality.  And we should be at the level of equality political, economically, legally, emotionally, socially.  We're not there.  And so we still have a long, long way to go.  And we need more activism. 

Legally, politically, in the streets, everywhere, to make this happen.  As I say no one ever gave us our rights, including the right to vote.  We had to fight to win it. 

Do you think we will "get there" in the next 50 years?

Gloria Allred:  Well I don't think there's revolution, I do think it's evolution.  But it's not going to happen unless women stand up and demand it.  It's as simple as that, because no one gives up power without a struggle.  And there is a huge struggle going on for power and for control over women's lives.  So I would like to think that both my daughter and my granddaughter will enjoy equality in their lifetimes.  I'm sure that I will not in my lifetime, but it's not going to happen unless women demand it.  Unless our daughters say: "This is what we have a right to and we are going to force the rights we have. And we are going to demand more rights.  And we're not going to be satisfied until we win those rights."

That's how change is won and there are just so many women and girls around the world who do not yet enjoy that equal educational opportunity.  Some of them can't get any educational opportunity at all... do not enjoy employment opportunity, do not... I mean, they are just living desperate lives.  And some of them are being trafficked as sex slaves and exploited in sweat shops.  Some of them are literally prisoners in their own home.  We have so much more work to do.  The work really has just begun.

Recorded on June 9, 2010
Interviewed by David Hirschman

More from the Big Idea for Tuesday, July 13 2010


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