YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The world’s most famous living feminist was in Youngstown Tuesday night, talking about the modern women’s movement — both past and present.
Youngstown State brought in Gloria Steinem as part of the university’s Centofanti Symposium at Stambaugh Auditorium.
A standing ovation from a sold-out crowd greeted her, all 2,500 people in the audience thrilled to be in the presence of one of the leaders of the feminist movement in the ’60s and ’70s.
Born in Toledo, the 83-year-old was happy being back in her native Ohio.
“It does help to be old because you remember when it was way worse than it is now but on the other hand, you see things being repeated, which drives you crazy,” Steinem said.
Before her speech, 50 — mostly female YSU students — had the chance to ask her questions. Some were in awe after meeting her.
“Your words have meant so much to me in my personal journey. I cannot even begin to thank you enough,” YSU student Marissa Gray told Steinem.
Many of the questions asked for advice and Steinem did her best to give it.
She touched only briefly on politics, saying this past election demonstrated why she thinks the electoral college should be eliminated.
“Including people who voted for Trump, the majority of the people are for direct democracy, everybody, instead of the electoral college. So that could be service if we survive, which is a big if.”
She was asked about the sex industry and said human trafficking is criminal and that teenagers can’t be involved. Steinem feels differently about women choosing to be prostitutes, however.
“If there is free choice, great. No criminal penalty, nothing,” she said. “Somewhere there is a woman working her way through graduate school without a pimp but I have not met her.”
Steinem was also asked about how deeply Americans should get involved with other cultures. She said if a woman has to wear a veil to be educated, then so be it — do it. But she also said culture is what happens to women and politics is what happens to men.