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October 13, 2016

Gloria Steinem. In person. Went there. Saw her. [✓]

I was in high school in the early 1070’s. I wanted to be a feminist. Badly. I knew they were right. But my mom believed Women’s Libbers were trouble-stirring men haters. My preacher dad bought into that old scriptural misquote about wives submitting to their husbands.  It was confusing. I loved men. I loved my mom. I loved my dad. For the person who lived in my skin, in my conservative Midwestern home, it was easiest to secretly love Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda. To hide my Ms. Magazine and Cosmopolitan. Chicken-shit moves, but apparently it was the best I could do at the time. I got my licks in where I could. I argued with my mom when she jumped up to fill my dad’s iced tea glass. I told my dad I’d torn the submission-to-husband page from my Bible.

But Monday night, I stood proudly in the packed auditorium of The School for Creative and Performing Arts (Cincinnati, OH), to ovate Gloria Steinem as she walked on stage. Her humble joy that we were there together was striking. I may be a word or two off, but she said something like: “This gathering, with these people, was meant to be and my wish is that all of our lives be better for having been together for this short time.” I saw no ego. Just gratitude followed by a gentle call for each of us to make the world a better place.

I confirmed with my own ears and eyes that Gloria Steinem’s message was one of peace and love. Not hate. Her demeanor, her voice, her message was one of calm confidence. Inclusiveness and equality. Her ability to shed light on issues one right after another, sans bullshit or sugar coat, was impressive. I came away with the idea that she believes great things can be accomplished by talking to one another. Connecting one-on-one, face-to-face with diverse human beings. By caring.

Here are a few highlights I gleaned from Ms. Steinem’s message–to the best of my memory.

Racism and sexism are intertwined with the caste system. She spoke of crimes of superiority and the connection between the need to control reproduction and military violence.

She encouraged us, as women, to trust ourselves more and seek a tribe. She warned that when we are alone, that is when we question ourselves. She said If we are privileged, listen more. If we are underprivileged, talk more. Love that!

I was challenged to think when she explained that we are at our smartest when we are nine or ten years old, but with the arrival of gender roles, comes self-doubt. Sad. And why?

In reflection, I see Ms. Steinem as a wildly smart woman eager to expose the tough stuff. Illicit thought. But at the same time, I sensed a positive energy. As if all this helping others has made her genuinely happy. Several times during the Q&A, a portion of her answer was, “Do what makes you happy.”

I was surprised by the emotion that overwhelmed me when I saw Ms. Steinem step onto the stage. Tears popped. Why? Being there, standing as one with a group of like-minded people to offer an ovation to Gloria Steinem was, for me, one giant step toward Joseph Campbell’s privilege of a lifetime: “being who you are.” I am determined to find out who I am. Be her. And find a tribe that fits.

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1 Comment

  1. “Something amazing happens when we surrender and just love. We melt into another world, a realm of power already within us. The world changes when we change. the world softens when we soften. The world loves us when we choose to love the world.”
    ― Marianne Williamson

    Great post! Thank you for sharing!


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Debi Dixon

Debi Dixon

The Universe is guiding me on an incredible adventure: my Plan B. I write here to share bits of my Odyssey, hopefully to inspire, encourage, or extend the virtual hand of friendship.

When I quit teaching in 2014, I could never have imagined the growth I would experience through travel, writing, reading, therapy, and introspection.

I believe human connection and compassion will go a long way toward our healing, and the best way to connect and feel compassion for one another is through the sharing of our stories.

Thank you for joining me here. I appreciate you and may we grow together.

Inspirational Quote

“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”
~Joseph Campbell

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