Women and Power – Gloria Steinem


“… If Harry Truman had pursued this advantage (he didn’t; even Gore Vidal doesn’t go that far), he certainly would have known that it wasn’t his beautiful soul and/or body that attracted her. Men wise in the ways of power understand its sexual uses as well. But there are a lot of men, and a surprising number of women, who believe the sexual segregationist argument that women aren’t interested in power at all; that something in their genes makes them prefer to be ordered about. While this is true of individual women—and some individual men: think of all those who seek out domineering wives or job hierarchies to take orders from—it turns out to be no more fundamentally true than all the other past myths: that women enjoyed sex less than men, for instance, or that Negroes were dependent creatures who didn’t want power either. A century ago when Henry Adams wrote Democracy, still the only truthful novel about American politics, he understood that women wanted power, and had quite good instincts for using it. But objective truth and social truth are two different things. As a shy pretty Barnard girl explained, surprised to find herself braving police cordons outside a Columbia building, ‘I guess I’m just finding out that women are people.’ New York is probably one of the better places to discover it. Girls come here, after all, for somewhat the same reason that Negroes and homosexuals do: to escape the roles dictated by their background and Conventional Wisdom, and discover what they can do on their own. Frequently, it turns out that they, too, want to see tangible and intangible proofs that they make a difference in the world, that they are unique and valuable people. Power may be a dirty word, especially among New-Left-through-Hippies who fear that it must be manipulative and bad. (Though they have no double standard. Power is bad for anyone, male or female, and ‘manipulative’ is the worst word in the New Left lexicon.) But vitality and a desire to change things are its ingredients, and the under-thirty generation has those in better supply than anyone else. They may not call it ‘power,’ but they are certainly seeking to take control away from the Establishment. …”
New York Magazine

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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