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Published: Tuesday, 10/2/2001

Steinem says women long way from equality

In a lecture last night that addressed women's issues ranging from 19th-century suffragettes to 21st-century Talibans, feminist leader Gloria Steinem said that women still have "quite a long way to go" in achieving equality.

The first wave of the feminist movement in the United States was for women to achieve a legal identity as human beings, and that took more than century, Ms. Steinem said in a lecture to about 250 people jammed into the tiny University of Toledo Law School auditorium.

The next wave, for women to achieve legal and social equality, also will take more than a century, she said.

"And we're only 30 or 35 years into this, so I don't know how to break this to you but we've got quite a long way to go," Ms. Steinem said wryly.

The 67-year-old former Waite High School student who in 1972 founded Ms. magazine gave a calm but colorful 45-minute talk that mixed personal observations, results of academic studies, and bumper-sticker slogans in painting a broad and sometimes provocative view of feminist accomplishments and goals.

Ms. Steinem said, for example, "racial and sexual caste systems can only be uprooted together." A society dominated by white males will seek to maintain its power, she said, by "turning white women into producers of the superior race and women of color into producers of a cheap labor force."

She said that while women have made significant gains in the work place, they still are grossly underpaid. And beyond that, she called for a redefinition of work to include tax reforms that attribute economic value to care giving, whether it be rearing children, taking care of the elderly, or assisting AIDS patients.

Ms. Steinem said the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have given her a new appreciation of daily life and consequently gave a "special meaning" to last night's gathering.

She blamed in part the "hyper-masculine" culture of fundamentalist Muslim nations for raising male zealots desperate to assert their masculinity. She blamed the same cultural dichotomy for turning some white middle-class American males into mass murderers and serial killers.

"The woman that man most fears is the woman within himself," Ms. Steinem said.

She called for the terrorists to be brought to justice but cautioned against military action in Afghanistan. In a comment that drew her biggest laugh, she called George W. Bush "the resident, not the President."

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