Feminist Leader Gloria Steinhem's Thoughts On Social Media And Capitalism

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Answers by Gloria Steinem, writer, lecturer, political activist, and feminist organizer, on Quora.

A: Social media have been a huge advance in women's access to information, ability to contact each other, to call for organizing on the ground, and to do so in safety. There is profound sexism and much punishment and threats on the web, too, when women state their opinions, and some threatens become real and physical because they involve stalking. This is partly because we can't experience empathy with each other unless we are present with all five senses. That is both the danger and the limitation of the web. Pressing send is not activism. And we have to remember that the web is the medium, not the message.

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A: I agree that the treatment of the female half of the world should be a larger part of our foreign policy than oil. All Saudi Arabia seems to be good at is the former, not the latter. There is a very important book called Sex and World Peace by Valerie Hudson and others, that shows that the biggest indicator of a country's internal violence or willingness to use military violence against another country, is violence against females. It's what we see first and it normalizes other violence. If this had been a basic tenant of our foreign policy, we wouldn't have supported the forces in Afghanistan that gave birth to the Taliban. One of the important effects of Hillary Clinton has been her inclusion of this importance of violence against women, and as president she could make our foreign policy more effective by including this basic understanding.

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A: No. Capitalism isn't compatible with anybody who doesn't have capital. Economics are not the only reason for race and sex inequality, it also has to do with a false belief in a hierarchy of human value. Socialism has often been patriarchal, too, we need to first things first and understand that human beings are linked, not ranked. The paradigm of society is not the pyramid but the circle.

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