Steinem and Warren

One of the mother’s of feminism is coming to town; plus, Elizabeth Warren has grit

I was pretty disappointed when Gloria Steinem implied that young women who were supporting Bernie Sanders were backing the Vermont senator for the purpose of meeting men. How patronizing.

I’m not exactly young, so that wasn’t my beef. As a woman and unabashed Sanders supporter, however, it stung. Plus, there’s a certain irony in the Mother of Feminism (the Second Wave, anyway) making a case for Hillary Clinton by putting down other women. Imagine what she would have said to a man who made such a claim.

Steinem made those comments last winter. Only recently did I find out she walked them back. I missed that headline. Steinem apologized for the implication that young women, as she put it in her mea culpa, “aren’t serious in their politics.” I was happy to hear that.

I have a soft spot for Steinem thanks to my mom. I grew up in a house in which a framed quote by the famous feminist—“A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle”—hung prominently on the wall. As a 30-something divorcee who worked her butt off while rearing two challenging kids, my mom was my first feminist role model.

Of course, Steinem has been a role model for millions. And now, because her new book, My Life on the Road, has been chosen as this year’s Book in Common, thousands of locals, men and women, will read and be inspired by Steinem’s personal account of her early years fighting for women’s rights.

What’s more, CN&R just found out that Steinem will be speaking at Chico State on March 1.

On the topic of badass women, my hero these days, and for the past few years, is Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. I first wrote about Warren back in 2013, when she was advocating for Congress to reduce the interest rates on student loans to the same rates that banks pay the U.S. Treasury for the money they borrow.

As I wrote at the time, “Warren points out that the government takes in $51 billion annually in profit from student loans. Why, she asks, are we making money off poor and middle-class college students at a time when big banks can borrow money at such low rates?”

Warren’s become one of the most vocal watchdogs in Washington, especially when it comes to Wall Street. On Tuesday, Sept. 20, she put the screws to Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, grilling the embattled banker during a Senate hearing regarding the bank’s practice of creating accounts in customers’ names without permission, injuring some of their credit ratings.

Stumpf had pressured employees to meet quotas of eight accounts per customer under the ridiculous rationale, Warren pointed out, that “Eight rhymes with great”—something Stumpf had written in a memo back in 2010. Warren called him out for blaming the fraud that resulted on the low-paid (“$12-an-hour”) employees, not firing any of his executives and for profiting personally to the tune of $200 million from increased stock prices driven in part by the scheme.

She then called for him to resign and to return his earnings, and for the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice to take up criminal investigations. It was a thing of beauty. I sure like a woman who tells it like it is. Big shocker, I know.