Gloria Steinem: On Health Care and Half Victories

Jeanne Sager

gloria steinem
Flickr photo by Queen of Planning
Gloria Steinem turns 76 today, and if there's one thing the feminist pioneer knows well, it's celebrating victories even while eyeing a semi-defeat.

She said once, "we've begun to raise daughters more like sons . . . but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters."

It was that attitude Steinem took toward the health care reform bill signed by President Obama this week.

"Health care reform will save health and lives, but its price was affirming and extending the control of women’s bodies by church and state," Steinem told Women on the Web this week. "The result restricts reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right, and the right of every child to be born loved and wanted."

She's talking, of course, about a last minute agreement to deny women seeking an abortion any federal assistance and to protect health care workers under the shroud of religious obesrvance from providing abortion-related health care to women in financial need.

As one friend posted on Facebook this week, "I am amused that both my conservative and liberal FB friends are livid about the health care bill. I guess it shows while you can't please everyone, you can certainly piss them all off."

Steinem is used to two steps forward, one step back. As she said last year, "“We’ve demonstrated that women can do what men do, but not yet that men can do what women do. That’s why most women have two jobs — one inside the home and one outside it — which is impossible. The truth is that women can’t be equal outside the home until men are equal in it.”

And she's used to not giving in to the bickering. Small victories. A bill passed. A shuffling forward. Steinem isn't telling us to run for the borders because things aren't perfect.

Accept the good, and fight the bad.

"Anger is an energy cell and depression is anger turned inward — which is why it’s a culturally female disease," Steinem says. "For us especially, activism is a form of health care in itself."

Are you up for turning the anger to good?

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