Gloria Steinem: Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann ‘Are There to Oppose the Women’s Movement’

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Gloria Steinem, a leader of the women's liberation movement of the seventies, was feted at a luncheon on Wednesday in celebration of the HBO documentary about her life, Gloria: In Her Own Words. We were curious what the feminist icon thinks about women like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, who are not housewives, yet support traditional values and oppose abortion. "They’re there to oppose the women's movement. That's their job," Steinem said, accusing the two politicians of "selling out" the women's movement. "That’s just the way it is; it's inevitable. Think about Phyllis Schlafly; there have always been women like this."

Later, during a speech, Steinem elaborated. "I can testify, the very same things people were telling me 30 or 40 years ago — it's against nature, you can’t do this, my wife is not interested — all these [people] are now saying, well, feminism used to be necessary, but it's not anymore. That is the new form of obstruction. And, of course, it’s accompanied by the other natural thing that happens if you have a big social justice movement: You make jobs for people who sell it out. So we have Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, who are on my list of 'the women only a man could love.'"

"But it’s important to remember that though they are in the news, they are not in the majority," Steinem continued. "And though they get elected, there's a huge race and gender differential on who votes for them. And if you were to add the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, they are the people our founders came to this country to escape," she told the lunch crowd. "They’re the same people, right? They're trying to say God looks like me and not like you, and to use that politically to make a religious base. And so it is really a kind of rerun."

Steinem hit on many other issues, like wage inequality, while speaking to guests including Tina Brown, Katie Couric, Ann Curry, Gayle King, Leslie Stahl, Christine Baranski, and Kim Cattrall. "It's not that we, female human beings, are better people, or smarter," she said. "We're not better or smarter, but we have not been raised with our masculinity to prove. This is a huge advantage."