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Gloria Steinem: Rush Limbaugh Turned Feminism Into A 'Bad Word,' You Know

Back from her campaign seeking to bring peace to the Korean peninsula, feminist Gloria Steinem stopped by CBS This Morning last Friday to discuss the future of the movement. Jeffrey Meyer of Newsbusters wrote about the interview, where Steinem said that Rush Limbaugh has turned feminism into a “bad word,” and that a majority of Americans consider themselves feminists:


NORAH O’DONNELL: There is still some real issues at stake. I want to start with this. Meryl Streep who stars in the new movie "Suffragette” as Emmeline Pankhurst. She sounded almost like Emmeline Pankhurst in that clip there. She says she doesn't consider herself a feminist. She says she considers herself a humanist. Why is it that the feminist label do you think has that--

GLORIA STEINEM: Well, think she said she is a feminist and a humanist. So I take from that, I mean the tradition of humanism is that you believe in people rather than God, you know, so she may have been saying both things. But the word feminism has been turned into a bad word by Rush Limbaugh who talks about feminazis everyday. But if people just go to the dictionary and discover that it means a person, male or female, who believes in the full equality of women and men then they do subscribe to it. And it is a majority now which it didn’t used to be.

It’s not true that a majority of Americans consider themselves feminists. The New York Times found that 82 percent don’t consider themselves as such. Meyer mentions the Vox poll, which found that 18% of respondents “identified as feminists…eighty-five percent of people favored ‘equality for women,’ and 78 percent agreed that they believe in the ‘social, political, legal, and economic equality of the sexes.”’ Jenny Kutner of Salon lamented that this just shows how people just don’t get feminism.


That’s right. Most of us don’t, or at least we have trouble trying to follow this current wave of feminism. Many commentators have noted the first two waves were concerted efforts that achieved their goals: obtaining the right to vote and tackling workplace discrimination. Many feminists would argue that there’s more work to be done. Progressives always say this. Yet, where do they go from here? Pay equity? Sexual harassment? Rape on college campuses? Paid family leave? The list goes on, and no one seems to be able to pick one thing to successfully tackle with this current third wave. It’s a loose confederation that’s going nowhere fast.

It’s a wave that thinks just because Beyoncé has the word “feminist” featured in the background of her VMA performance, it means the needle has moved in a positive direction. That’s like saying yard signs win elections; they don’t. Also, who really wants to debate whether accepting Caitlyn Jenner is misogynist or not? Apparently, Germaine Greer thinks so. Oh, and it’s done wonders in the workplace. Granted, no one has the right to sexually harass anyone. But it’s got to the point where men are so afraid that they’ll be sent to the human resources department, they refuse help their female colleagues. They simply ignore them–even to the point of refusing to hold the door. Remarks complimenting a female colleagues dress, which back then would be considered innocuous, even nice, are feared of being taken the wrong way.


Oh, and let’s not forget the insane methods used to stifle debate. We’re living in the era of microaggessions and safe spaces, where words can be considered verbal rape, or something. At Williams College, those tactics were on full display when the speaking series “Uncomfortable Learning” disinvited conservative speaker Suzanne Venker from their agenda. That’s right; a lecture series meant to bring in conservative speakers and expose the student body to other views was shut down … because Venker had conservative views. Guy wrote about this fiasco over at our sister site, Hot Air.

He added that Zack Wood, the co-president of the series, said things were getting out of control on their now deleted Facebook page, which posted Venker’s event. Here’s one comment:

“When you bring a misogynistic, white supremacist men’s rights activist to campus in the name of ‘dialogue’ and ‘the other side,’ you are not only causing actual mental, social, psychological and physical harm to students, but you are also—paying—for the continued dispersal of violent ideologies that kill our black and brown (trans) femme sisters … you are dipping your hands in their blood, Zach Wood.”


Don’t get me wrong, I believe in equal opportunity for all. But if your methods are to kill debate, or think a speech from someone with different views constitutes violence in the innocuous setting of a college lecture hall, you’re on bath salts. Also, with such commentary, it's no wonder why people run away from the label. 


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