Gloria Steinem speaks at Eckerd College

03/06/08 Dawn Morgan & Emily Reddy
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Last night at Eckerd College, three generations of feminists came together for a panel discussion on the women’s movement.

Gloria Steinem led a conversation with Dorothy Pitman Hughes, Jennifer Baumgardner, Amy Richards and an audience of 1,200 students and community members.

Steinem caused a stir over the weekend with a comment that being a prisoner of war didn’t qualify John McCain to be president.

In a press conference before the event, Steinem said many reporters misinterpreted her words.

Steinem has been campaigning for Hillary Clinton, but says she also supports Barack Obama.

However, longtime childcare activist and feminist, Dorothy Pitman Hughes, who founded the Women’s Action Alliance with Steinem in 1971, supports Barack Obama.

Pitman Hughes recounted her feminist beginnings in Lumpkin, Georgia, as a child. The neighborhood women would gather on her porch to talk about the community’s problems, such as the regular Friday night Klan visits.

In contrast, Steinem didn’t become a feminist until she was in her 20s. Her work as a reporter led her to a protest for reproductive rights, where women talked about their own abortions. Steinem said she didn’t understand why abortion was illegal if so many women, including herself, had had the procedure.

Steinem also explained why she thinks the word “feminist” still has negative connotations. She says the word isn’t important, action is.

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