Gloria Steinem: How Today's Election Affects Women

The pioneering feminist acknowledges that people are frustrated with the Democrats, but warns that the "extreme" policies of the Republican party are bad for everyone—especially women. 

Republicans are expected to make huge gains in the Senate and House of Representatives today, and this could be very damaging for women's rights, says feminist icon Gloria Steinem. Gone is the old Republican party of Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller, two prominent conservatives from the 1960s and 70s who were pro-choice and supported the Equal Rights Amendment, she tells Big Think. In its place is a party that has shifted toward an "extreme" position on women's rights—one whose policies would "nationalize" women's bodies.


"The party platform includes a constitutional amendment to the U.S. Constitution which would make a direct relationship between the law and a fertilized egg, which is when they say life begins," Steinem warns. "What that would do in real life is nationalize women’s bodies.  You could legally search a women’s womb to see if she was pregnant.  You could forcibly restrain her for all nine months of her pregnancy." Though voters may be frustrated with the Democrats, they should take a hard look at these proposed Republican policies, she says. "It’s important that we recognize how extreme the Republicans are in almost every case and how against our self interest it is to vote for them whether or not we are disappointed with the current crew." 

Women are nonetheless expected to desert the Democratic party in droves today, despite Steinem's claim that Republican policies oppose women's interests. The explanation, she says, is that many right-wing women have internalized their own inferiority: "Any group of people that has been subordinate absorbs the idea of our own subordination and that it is natural and comes to think that the only way to survive is to identify with the powerful."

Once the dust clears from today's election, commentators will no doubt shift their gaze to 2012 and to the question on everyone's minds: will former Alaska governor Sarah Palin vie for the GOP nomination to challenge President Obama? Steinem didn't comment on Palin's presidential ambitions, but she told us that Palin's choice of "mama grizzlies" as the unofficial mascot for right-wing, pro-life women is supremely ironic.

Grizzly bears are "famous for their exertion of reproductive control in their lives," Steinem says. Not only do they mate later than other bears and have fewer cubs, they also are able to abort their own pregnancies if conditions are not ideal. "Once they’re pregnant if they see that it’s going to be a really hard winter, they themselves are not in good health or the food supply is low they reabsorb, their bodies reabsorb the fetus," she says. "If you wanted to have a totem for reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right the mama grizzlies would be up there."

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
Sponsored
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less

Why American history lives between the cracks

The stories we tell define history. So who gets the mic in America?

Videos
  • History is written by lions. But it's also recorded by lambs.
  • In order to understand American history, we need to look at the events of the past as more prismatic than the narrative given to us in high school textbooks.
  • Including different voices can paint a more full and vibrant portrait of America. Which is why more walks of American life can and should be storytellers.
Keep reading Show less

5 of the worst inventions in modern history

Be glad your name isn't attached to any of these bad ideas.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • Some inventions can be celebrated during their time, but are proven to be devastating in the long run.
  • The inventions doesn't have to be physical. Complex mathematical creations that create money for Wall Street can do as much damage, in theory, as a gas that destroys the ozone layer.
  • Inventors can even see their creations be used for purposes far different than they had intended.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists claim the Bible is written in code that predicts future events

The controversy around the Torah codes gets a new life.

Michael Drosnin
Surprising Science
  • Mathematicians claim to see a predictive pattern in the ancient Torah texts.
  • The code is revealed by a method found with special computer software.
  • Some events described by reading the code took place after the code was written.
Keep reading Show less