“I Hope To Be an Old Woman who Dresses Very Inappropriately”


Women in business
Dress in man-style suits
And treat their secretaries
In a man-style way.

Women on campus
Wear “masculine” thoughts
And look to daddy for
Good grades

Married women
Give their bodies away
And wear their husbands’
Wishes

Religious women
Cover sinful bodies
And ask redemption from god
Not knowing
She is within them.

That’s why I’ll always love
The fat woman who dares to wear
A red miniskirt
Because she loves her woman’s body.
The smart woman who doesn’t go to college
And keeps possession of her mind.
The lover who remains a mistress
Because she knows the price of marrying.
The witch who walks naked
And demands to be safe.
The crazy woman who dyes her hair purple
Because anyone who doesn’t love purple
Is crazy

Dear Goddess: I pray for the courage
To walk naked
At any age.
To wear red and purple,
To be unladylike,
Inappropriate,
Scandalous and
Incorrect
To the very end

—–Gloria Steinem, author, advocate, revolutionary

 

Gloria Steinem grew up in Toledo, Ohio and came from my neck of the woods. She is a writer, speaker, editor and activist. Since the 1960’s, she has helped to challenge divisions based on sex, race, sexuality, class, and religious doctrine. She has written for the New Yorker Magazine and Ms. Magazine.

 

Ms. Magazine is a national forum for women writers and for feminist art, culture, and political activism. Forty years after its inception, Ms. remains the only nationally distributed magazine for women that is owned and controlled by women.

 

I have read several of her earlier books such as, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions and Revolution From Within. She also contributes frequently to anthologies, and introductions in other feminist’s writings.

 

She is also a co-founder of the current wave of feminism; a board member of Equality Now, a global human rights organization. She is also a co-founder and board member of the Women’s Media Center. They name and change media bias against women and to increase their presence and power.

 

She graduated from Smith College in 1956, with a degree in political science. Gloria went on to live in India from 1957-1959. She worked as a travel writer and social activist. She studied Ghandi’s methods of non-violent revolution and that is part of the reason the women’s movement has been able to make gains without violence.  She was back in America when she covered McGovern’s 1968 presidential campaign. She has spoken at many colleges across the country, such as Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio.

 

I met Gloria Steinem at Chautauqua Institution, NY, in the mid eighties. She was speaking and I was there for the season. She was warm, witty, encouraging. We crossed paths often at marches and rallies and I looked forward to seeing her welcoming smile and hearing her new ideas.

Chautauqua is the oldest gated community in the United States. It was founded in the 1800’s and every year there is a summer program where literature,  culture, religion, the arts and music are studied. It is situated in Chautauqua Lake and provides a lovely setting for learning, discussion and thinking. I used to go there every year. They also have one of the remaining independent book stores in America. My second favorite is the William Faulkner bookstore in Pirate’s Alley in the French Quarter.

If you are interested in Chautauqua Institution, please see earlier blogs about this wonderful place of learning nestled along the Chautauqua Lake.

 

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Writer Gloria Steinem sitting cross-legged on floor w. sign "We Shall Overcome" re pop culture

Writer Gloria Steinem sitting cross-legged on floor w. sign “We Shall Overcome” Gloria is now in her 80’s and continues to strive for human equality and against the War on Women.

 

A uniformed officer arrests feminist Gloria Steinem during an anti-apartheid protest outside the South African Embassy in Washington, Dec. 19, 1984. (AP Photo/Pool)

A uniformed officer arrests feminist Gloria Steinem during an anti-apartheid protest outside the South African Embassy in Washington, Dec. 19, 1984.

One thought on ““I Hope To Be an Old Woman who Dresses Very Inappropriately”

  1. Joanne Corey says:

    I am also a Smith alumna and appreciate everything Gloria Steinem has accomplished in her long and storied career.

    I also admire Chautauqua. Maybe I will get there some day.

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