by Jacob McMarthy

Ms. magazine cofounder Gloria Steinem spoke to a packed house in Lorimer Chapel.
Ms. magazine cofounder Gloria Steinem spoke to a packed house in Lorimer Chapel.

Famed activist and political figure Gloria Steinem spoke to a packed Lorimer Chapel Feb. 28, the same day Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act. She served as the keynote speaker of S.H.O.U.T!, a week of multicultural celebration organized by the Pugh Community Board.

Steinem took passage of the act earlier that day as a point from which to jump into a discussion of the need to think closely about our connections with people, the effects our actions have, and the current state of the feminist movement.

Steinem, who came to prominence in the late Sixties after she published an article titled “After Black Power, Women’s Liberation,” referenced the 1970 takeover of Lorimer Chapel by 18 African-American students as she spoke about the shared efforts and effects of diverse activisms. The argument that feminism is no longer relevant to young people is a myth, she said. Women and men have different patterns of activism, and the more that women “experience life, the more likely we are to be activists.” 

Framing activist movements as struggles to first establish an identity and then achieve equality, Steinem said that while the feminist movement’s identity is firmly established, it remains for young people, such as those before her in Lorimer Chapel, to continue the work of gaining equality. Those efforts, she said, are only half complete, and finishing them requires careful consideration of our relationships with one another.

“The act of behaving ethically is understanding that everything we do matters,” she said. “The means we choose every day will form the ends we get.”