Backstage at the Women’s March on Washington, Amy Goodman caught up with feminist icon Gloria Steinem to talk about President Trump, resistance, reproductive rights and more.
GLORIA STEINEM: My name is Gloria Steinem. I’m here today because I wouldn’t be anyplace else on Earth. We are taking democracy back. I mean, let’s face it. It doesn’t say “I the president” at the beginning of the Constitution. It says “We the people.” And, actually, I’ve lived a long time, but I’ve never seen an outpouring of energy quite like this. You know, the Vietnam War was crucial, but it was sort of more youth-oriented, because it was about the draft and, you know, issues. Things have been about a particular issue in Washington. But this is more capacious and more about who makes decisions, in general.
AMY GOODMAN: President Trump won, though, maybe not the popular vote, maybe down almost 3 million, but he did win this system—
GLORIA STEINEM: He won—
AMY GOODMAN: —we have, the Electoral College.
GLORIA STEINEM: He won—no, it’s not. He won by the Electoral College, which was originated by the slave states. He also lost 7 million other votes, voting for other candidates, other than the two male—main candidates. So, by no calculation is he my president.
AMY GOODMAN: So what does that mean right now? How are you going to take him on? It’s not only Donald Trump. There is a majority-Republican House and Senate. They’re vowing to take down Planned Parenthood, to defund it, to repeal the Affordable Care Act. How are you going to do this?
GLORIA STEINEM: Well, one day at a time. For instance, if they defund Planned Parenthood and defund NPR, we can take that money out of our income tax, put a note with our return saying, “Sorry, I’ve sent it where it should go. Come and get me.” If enough people do that, it’s very difficult to do anything about it. We did it in the Vietnam era. And then, we just—it was more difficult, in a way, because we were just keeping the money. This is more positive, because we’re actually giving the money where it should go.
AMY GOODMAN: It may well be that there are many more people here today at the Women’s March on Washington than there were at Donald Trump’s inauguration, though he said it was going to be the biggest—I can’t remember the word he used—hugest inauguration yet.
GLORIA STEINEM: But he doesn’t—Trump doesn’t know any word except a superlative word to describe anything related to him or anything he does.
AMY GOODMAN: On CNN, one of their paid commentators, sort of while snickering, said, “If you were to talk to these protesters, I don’t think they have a coherent agenda. They’re just here to make trouble.”
GLORIA STEINEM: No, we’re here to make progress. A different P.
AMY GOODMAN: So, how do people’s movements do that? Where do you go from here?
GLORIA STEINEM: It’s hard to answer that question in the general, because where you go is in the specific. It depends, for instance, what happens. For instance, when they tried to eliminate the Ethics Committee, people descended on Congress, and they had to reinstate the Ethics Committee. So, it is one step at a time, or multiple steps at a time. But we are not looking up at him. We are looking at each other, where we’re strong.
AMY GOODMAN: Speaking of steps, the Rockettes, when it was announced that they were going to perform at one of the inaugural balls, a number of them took very big steps. They wrote to each other privately on Facebook and said no.
GLORIA STEINEM: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: There was so much backlash that the union and Madison Square Garden, which owns them, was forced to say they wouldn’t be required to dance. They didn’t want to sort of dance half-naked in front of a president who they thought was a sexual abuser.
GLORIA STEINEM: Right. But you don’t have to be required to dance. It was not a backlash; it was a frontlash, because up to that point, they were supposed to all do it together. And the union was backing off and saying, “No, no, no. Only if you agree.”
AMY GOODMAN: The World Food Program apparently issued a letter to everyone around the world who works for them, and said, “You can’t participate in these marches. You can’t take a political stand.” But there was such a backlash that the head of the World Program—
GLORIA STEINEM: I didn’t know that.
AMY GOODMAN: —World Food Program has just issued another letter saying, “Yeah, you can march.”
GLORIA STEINEM: Yeah. Well, that’s exactly the same thing. And, you know, we’re just not asking daddy anymore, because it’s the wrong daddy.
AMY GOODMAN: What does it mean to defund Planned Parenthood?
GLORIA STEINEM: You know, Planned Parenthood is, of course, necessary to women’s health in this country. A very—what? One percent of it goes toward abortion. It does everything, we know—breast exams and everything else. So it would be incredibly expensive to every emergency room in the nation, if they were not able to serve women and men in the way that they do. Therefore, if they defund it, we’ll take money out of our income tax and send it direct.