Where in The World is The Next Gloria Steinem?

gloria steinemA few days ago, the New York Times published an article that essentially asked, “Where in The World is The Next Gloria Steinem?” Cue Rockapella because we got another hit theme song on our hands. But seriously, at this point, the threat against women’s rights is certainly a Snooki aka a Code Orange, so where is, as Rush Limbaugh not-so-eloquently put it, the Feminazi, or Femipanther,  or FeminLin (someone who’s a really big fan of feminism and of Jeremy Lin) to carry on the torch that’s been held by Steinem?

This is not to say that NO ONE is voicing an opinion. Quite the opposite. Outrage over threats to women’s reproductive rights could be heard throughout the country in the form of tweets, blogs, Facebook posts, and television appearances, yet no woman has declared, “There can only be one Highlander!” and taken charge of the feminist movement. With so many voices and niche markets, it appears difficult to unify the troops. I mean, you ever try to get eight people to agree on a restaurant for brunch? Exactly. “Oh, this place has unlimited mimosas.” “But this restaurant has the best Hollandaise sauce.” People are sending emails about trivial matters like Hollandaise sauce, y’all. So obvi, something as important as determining the new face of feminism will require much more than an email chain.

However, I think it’s too simple to blame the absence of a new leader on there being too many options and outlets. Let’s not forget that critics accused Steinem of representing feminism for the privileged. So it now seems that women are reluctant to assign any face as THE face of feminism for fear of not representing everyone. Maybe we can, through the power of photoshop, merge faces of every race into one face until the complexion is of oatmeal and the face has dead stripper eyes. If that doesn’t work, we can choose American Idol style and dial 1-866-IDOLS-07 and vote for our favorite feminist. Or maybe all notable feminists could fight to the death a la The Hunger Games until one remains. I give a slight edge to Ariana Huffington. If Ivan Drago from Rocky IV has taught me anything, it’s that people with accents mean business and break bones.

After putting her hair in a ponytail, Ariana’s gonna Vaseline her face so tricks’ punches slide off. Girlfight!!

Yet the most interesting piece of evidence of all is that the feminist movement doesn’t have a clear enemy, at least not like the enemies during the ‘60s &‘70s. Yes, there are misogynists, but many have hipped to the ways of subtle discrimination for the most part, thus making it harder for feminists to combat them without appearing defensive. Furthermore, without clear and concrete opponents, any feminists jockeying for the spotlight can potentially look like they’re merely “getting ready for their close up, Mr. DeMille.”

But maybe what we’re forgetting is that the feminist movement has evolved from having a singular voice. A singular vision. Maybe the new feminism is a collective. Maybe the feminist movement is like a co-op grocery store. We all gotta sweep up the floor, we all have to ring up customers, and we all get to share what our hard work gives us: fresh produce and fresh ideas about what it is to be a woman.

Feminists in 1973: Gloria Steinem & Margaret Sloan.
Feminists today: Shirts comes in every size for every woman.

Author: Blaria

According to Serial Optimist, NYC-based stand up-comedian and writer Phoebe Robinson “is brilliant and able to critique some really complex concepts in a sentence or two. Bask in it, people.” Which is precisely what The Huffington Post is trying to get people to do when it listed her as one of “18 Funny Women You Should Be Following On Twitter,” but with the way things are going, it seems the place to follow her is on TV. Phoebe is a writer for MTV’s Girl Code and most recently co-hosted an episode of the new series Raising McCain, wrote on the VH1 pilot Chateau Buteau, appeared on FX’s Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell and Comedy Central’s Broad City, was a panelist on VH1’s Big Morning Buzz, and has been featured on several talking head shows for Pivot TV, VH-1, and the TV Guide Channel such as 100 Shows to See Before You Die, 25 Biggest Reality Star Blunders, and 40 Greatest Hip Hop Songs. When not on television, Phoebe’s a writer for Glamour.com and contributes to The New York Times. Her blog Blaria (aka Black Daria) was picked up by The Huffington Post and has been featured on their website. She has also been published in Time Out NY, The NY Post, and The Smoking Jacket. Phoebe has also made her mark in the world of stand up. She was a finalist in NBC’s Stand Up for Diversity competition and was a part of their 2011-2012 USA college tour. Since the tour, she has performed in the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, the Eugene Mirman Festival, the New York Underground Comedy Festival, the All Jane No Dick Festival, SF Sketchfest, the Women in Comedy Festival, the Brooklyn Comedy Festival, and the New York Comedy Festival. Phoebe has also branched out into radio as she has been on Sirius XM’s Raw Dog Comedy, Canada’s CBC Radio, and bitch magazine’s podcast.

2 thoughts

  1. I agree that it’s way more of a collective because there are so many facets now. I think we are experiencing a huge backlash to feminism because of our rise and what Steinem and Sloan did for us sent us upwards to incredible heights! Men AND women are confused about what’s happening (ie, we must redefine masculinity and feminity) and in that, we are setting ourselves backwards (I’m talking about the unenlightened masses). This article I posted below has been circulating recently and while it sort of makes men look like immature assholes, I think we can also agree that women become complicit. It’s up to men AND women to become better people for both genders. I wish the new face would be a guy and a gal working together instead of just one woman. Represent!


    1. Thanks for the Cracked.com link. I agree with it a lot. And I also agree with you in that men AND women have to redefine what is masculinity and femininity. However, it seems so hard to do because I feel like both gender hold onto old ideas, no matter how trivial. For example, how many times have all women said, “If he doesn’t call you to ask you out? He’s not into you. He’s the guy after all.” Or “I have to be the man of the house. It’s my responsibility to be the provider and protector” is either uttered or thought by most guys. We have these gender traits so thoroughly ingrained in us that it makes it difficult even for the most forward thinking person to ctrl +alt +del those default concepts from our brains. I don’t know what it’s going to take, but I think it needs to start with a real discussion from men and women and not gender attack by men and other self-destructive modes of communication. It would be really cool if there was a male/female duo who became the face of feminism. Haha.

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