At 85, Why Feminist Icon Gloria Steinem Is More Woke Than Ever

Gloria Steinem took the stage at the Tory Burch Embrace Ambition Summit on Thursday night in New York. And the 85-year-old feminist icon is said she’s still forging ahead to create change and equality in America despite recent political setbacks.

For example, on the same day as the summit, senator Elizabeth Warren announced she had ended her presidential campaign, leaving no other women in the race.

“We’re at a time of danger and promise at the same time. And what matters? What matters is what we do every day. That’s the whole point,” Steinem said.

What gives Steinem the most hope, she explained, is the next generation. However, she’s not throwing in the towel anytime soon.

“I’m not giving up my torch. No, no!” said Steinem. “But I’ve been using my torch to light other peoples’ torches. Because the whole idea that there’s only one torch is part of the reason why we’re so f*cked up. Everybody needs a torch.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 05: Deborah Roberts, ABC News Correspondent and Gloria Steinem, Feminist and Activist speak onstage during the 2020 Embrace Ambition Summit by the Tory Burch Foundation at Jazz at Lincoln Center on March 05, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Tory Burch Foundation)
ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts and Gloria Steinem onstage at the 2020 Embrace Ambition Summit by the Tory Burch Foundation.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Tory Burch Foundation

During the day-long summit — hosted by designer Torch Burch’s foundation (which debuted in 2009 as a vehicle to support the success and sustainability of female-owned small businesses) — speakers, including model Halima Aden, designer Diane von Furstenberg and activist Deja Foxx, spoke on unconscious bias, challenging stereotypes and creating new norms for women in business, entertainment and politics.

For her part, Steinem suggested gender discrimination was likely among the reasons for Warren’s departure from the presidential race. “In the case of women of all races, we are not going to be recognized for all of our human qualities until we are no longer seen as only the nurturers of other human beings,” she explained. “In other words, until men are equal in child-rearing in the home, women are not going to be equal in leadership outside of the home.”

The writer and political activist, however, still believes a revolution is on the horizon despite economic division and an arguably polarizing political system.

“Are you kidding me? I’m not going to give up hope. I mean, that means you’re defeated before you even start. And also, it is one of the reasons why us older folks are useful is because we do have hope — because we remember when it was worse,” Steinem said. “Thanks to the accident in the White House [and] seeing everything that’s wrong with the country at a high level, we are woke. We are seriously woke.”

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