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Feminist Icon Gloria Steinem Visits Simmons

March 28, 2013

Feminist icon and political activist Gloria Steinem returned to Simmons on March 22, 40 years after delivering the College’s Commencement address in 1973. Her visit, sponsored by the Class of 2013 and The Office of Student Leadership and Activies, included a meet and greet with student groups, a reception with alumnae/i, and a keynote speech entitled “The F-Word: Feminism Today, Then, Now & What’s Next.”

In her speech, delivered before a packed audience in the Holmes Sports Center, Steinem said the fight for gender quality was far from over.

“We cannot have democracy without feminism, it simply can’t happen,” she said. “We are constantly being told that the movement is over, but we still have at least 40 or 50 years to go.”

Reproductive freedom, equal pay, and domestic violence are crucial issues facing women today, Steinem said.

“Equal pay alone would be the biggest economic stimulus this country would ever have,” she said.

Members of the audience were given a chance to ask questions following the keynote, and one woman expressed frustration with the recent debate over “women having it all.” Steinem was direct in her response. “The question is unacceptable and, I’m beginning to think, should not be answered at all until it includes men,” she said to a round of applause.

Steinem has been an outspoken champion of women’s rights for more than 40 years. She helped create both New York Magazine and Ms. Magazine, helped form the National Women’s Political Caucus, and is the author of many books and essays. As a contributer to Time Magazine in the 70s, Steinem recalled her editor’s response to her assertion that she was not being paid as much as male writers. “He sent me a Gucci handbag,” she said. “Of course, I tried to take it back.”

Prior to her speech, Steinem attended “Gather for Gloria,” a student-organized showcase of Simmons organizations, highlighting the College’s commitment to women’s education, leadership, and success. She also spoke with members of the 1899 Society during a reception for alumnae/i.

Steinem’s visit was covered extensively by the Boston Globe, which ran an article announcing her return to the College on the front page of its March 21 edition. A live blog of the event was also featured on on Friday, and post-event coverage appeared in and the Boston Globe Names and Metro sections.