On Saturday evening, to a crowd of hundreds of empowered women (and a few dudes) feminist icon Gloria Steinem took the Create & Cultivate stage. Over the next 40 minutes, Steinem, in conversation with fellow famous feminist Amy Richards, chatted everything from The Golden Rule to aging to finding your path, and why now, even in what she called the face of a disastrous Trump presidency, she considers herself a forever “hope-a-colic.”
Read through for our favorite takeaways from the woman who shaped the women’s movement.
1. YOU CAN BE ADDICTED TO THE GOOD STUFF.
The 83-year-old icon, who started her career writing under a man’s name, told the C&C audience that she’s a “hope-a-holic.”
“I hope we’re beginning to approach the end of one structure and the beginning of another,” she said in regards to the Trump administration. Adding, “When it’s no longer universally human, it’s political.” Therein lies the motivational rub to get moving and get political.
2. AGE AIN’T NOTHING BUT A NUMBER.
When an audience member stood up to ask the trailblazer what she would tell her 15-year-old self, Steinem laughed and said that though age changes, the person inside does not. “You can’t live in future,” she shared. “Hello, you can only live in the present. We only have our five senses in the present.”
Adding, “Here’s the secret of age: You’re still the same person, but after you hit 50 or 60, you’re free like you were when you were a little girl.” Joking, “Except now you have money, and your own apartment.”
3. NO ONE IS TRULY ALONE.
As a woman with a self-actualized career, Steinem never married, never had children, but surrounded herself with a sea of motivated women (including Amy Richards, who shared the stage with Steinem and worked with her on the Viceland series “Woman”).
“Being an organizer is being an entrepreneur of social change,” Steinem said. “But the more you tell your story, your dreams, and your entrepreneurial hopes, the more you will see that you’re not alone in either your striving or your doubts. You will be better able to move forward by sharing.”
4. WOMEN NEED TO REVERSE THE GOLDEN RULE.
Though she said that men need to follow The Golden Rule (treat others as you wish to be treated), Steinem said that women need to do the opposite. “We need to treat ourselves the way we would treat other people,” she told the millennial audience. It’s that simple. Be kind to yourself.
5. SHE’S FOUND THE GOOD IN THE FACE OF THE CURRENT ADMIN.
Steinem might have dubbed the current administration “a disaster,” but she also said the sitting President is “a big-time consciousness raiser.” (How’s that for a hope-a-holic?) Bringing up the historical Women’s March on Washington, Steinem said, “It was the first protest led by women that was joined by men.” She also urged the women in the audience to, “Be honest. Speak the truth.”
6. SPEAKING OF MEN, SHE’S NOT DISCOUNTING THEM FROM THE CONVO. (But she does want to change it for them.)
Steinem might have called the masculine experience a “prison” and “bonkers,” but she also said that it is vital that we show males “the path to empathy.” Noting that feminism benefits all people.
“They’re not supposed to show emotion or admit failure. It’s crazy and it shortens your life.” She continued, “Show the ways in which it [feminism] is good for men. It lengthens their lives.” She also said we need to “humanize the masculine role which is killing men. It’s not about asking for sacrifice, it’s about showing compassion. It is possible to go forward in a different way, and I think we are.”
7. SHE CALLED UPON EVERYONE TO FIND THE COMMON THREAD IN OUR HUMAN EXPERIENCE.
The “patriarchal, hierarchical, bullshit,” as Steinem calls it, has only been around for about 500 years. The social activist, who often cites indigenous cultures in her talks spoke of a time when, “People were linked. They were not ranked. Women controlled their own bodies. Languages didn’t have he and she. People were people. There was not a concept of ownership.”
Arianna Schioldager is Editor-in-Chief at Create & Cultivate. You can follow her @ariannawrotethis.
For more #CreateCultivateNYC recaps, check back this week. We’ll be posting our favorite advice from the conference.