Gloria Steinem focuses on next generation The Toronto Star June 6, 1992, Saturday, SATURDAY SECOND EDITION
Copyright 1992 Toronto Star Newspapers, Ltd.
The Toronto Star
June 6, 1992, Saturday, SATURDAY SECOND EDITION
SECTION: LIFE; Pg. K9
LENGTH: 490 words
HEADLINE: Gloria Steinem focuses on next generation
DATELINE: NEW YORK
NEW YORK (Reuter) - Amid a U.S.-wide debate on issues such as sexual harassment, date rape and abortion rights, feminist Gloria Steinem is turning her attention to preparing the next generation of women for a long hard battle to sexual equality.
"Little girls are interested in fairness and equality but when adolescence arrives and the feminine role comes down upon them, they begin to wonder whether they should conform to what society says," Steinem said in an interview.
Steinem, co-founder of the feminist magazine Ms., has launched project called "Take Our Daughters to Work." Participants - parents or teachers - will take girls to the workplace for a day next year.
"Many corporations are quite interested in it because they've been studying workforce 2000 and they realize these young women are going to be their employees and they need to be hospitable to their talent," Steinem said.
The program is based on research by Harvard psychologist Carol Gilligan. Her study shows young girls between the ages of 8 and 10 are independent, confident and sure of what they know.
"But by 11, 12 and 13, they're suddenly unsure and not as trusting of their own views because the feminine role has begun to be enforced," Steinem said.
"Our aim is for young girls to keep their confidence, dreams and individuality so they don't become female impersonators as so many of us did," she said.
She said society trains girls to live vicariously through men because they have few other job mentors or role models.
This emphasis on lack of confidence is an extension of the central theme of her bestseller, Revolution From Within: A Book Of Self-Esteem. In the book, she contends women fall in love with powerful men as an expression of female powerlessness.
Admitting she has still not overcome that sense of powerlessness, Steinem said: "If you're black in a racist society or female in a sexist society, you can't completely overcome it."
But, she said, "you can have an inner sense these external hierarchies undermine your self-authority . . . to get you to obey them. So the more you strengthen your self-authority the more you can rebel against them."
She hopes "Take Our Daughters to Work" will give girls this inner sense.
"If they must live by rules of the establishment . . . to survive, at least they'll have a double consciousness," she said.
The feminist movement in the United States has grown more emotionally charged since the U.S. Senate hearings on Anita Hill's sexual harassment charges against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas and as the high court with its conservative majority ponders whether to overturn the 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling that guarantees American women the right to an abortion.
A recent Time Magazine/CNN Poll found that 63 per cent of American women do not consider themselves feminists. But Steinem said up to 70 per cent of them support the women's movement.
GRAPHIC: PHOTO: Gloria Steinem
LOAD-DATE: May 12, 1999