Monday, August 24, 2015

Thoughts on Gloria Steinem

I love Gloria Steinem, for her courage and her generosity and her plain-spokeness - if there had to be a single person chosen to represent feminism - as Steinem was by the press in the 1970s, you couldn't do better than Steinem.

That's not to say that I always agree with Steinem, although the disagreements are far rarer than the agreements. I mostly just disagree with her about pornography especially this:
Steinem asserts, "Whatever the gender of the participants, all pornography including male-male gay pornography is an imitation of the male-female, conqueror-victim paradigm, and almost all of it actually portrays or implies enslaved women and master."[18]:219[100]
Perhaps when porn was offline it was easier to believe that it was so monotonous. But these days it takes two seconds to Google "femme dom" and find thousands, probably millions of porn videos catering to those who are aroused by women dominating men. I've argued with Amanda Marcotte about this too. There's plenty of evidence that pornography isn't only about men abusing women. Unless you're going to use the No True Scotsman argument that no matter how explicit a sex video is, if it doesn't have a man dominating or abusing a woman then it isn't really porn.

The NYTimes ran a brief piece this weekend about Steinem with an awesome info graphic (see above) about her life and career, which mentions that she is on the record being for gay marriage 45 years ago. Very impressive. Although the Wikipedia entry has a surprising view on homosexuality:
What will exist is a variety of alternative life-styles. Since the population explosion dictates that childbearing be kept to a minimum, parents-and-children will be only one of many "families": couples, age groups, working groups, mixed communes, blood-related clans, class groups, creative groups. Single women will have the right to stay single without ridicule, without the attitudes now betrayed by "spinster" and "bachelor." Lesbians or homosexuals will no longer be denied legally binding marriages, complete with mutual-support agreements and inheritance rights. Paradoxically, the number of homosexuals may get smaller. With fewer over-possessive mothers and fewer fathers who hold up an impossibly cruel or perfectionist idea of manhood, boys will be less likely to be denied or reject their identity as males.[101]
Steinem appears to have bought into the common notion of the time that homosexuality is caused by the behavior of parents, especially mothers. So Steinem was way ahead of her time on gay marriage, but of her time on homosexuality  - I assume she's changed her attitude about the cause of homosexuality since then.

And in fact the number of homosexuals has gotten larger, if you count bisexuals since as has recently been reported, A third of young Americans say they aren't 100% heterosexual. This only makes sense to me, since the stigma of being gay has been reduced from 45 years ago, and so those who might have denied same-sex feelings in the past are now admitting them. This is definitely a good thing as I'm sure Steinem would agree.