Iconic feminist activist Gloria Steinem just gave the best advice for women who face sexism on a daily basis, and we love her for it: Don’t just call people out, completely unsettle them. Um, yes.
In an interview with Cosmopolitan’s Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles, Steinem discussed how ‘female ambition’ is still seen as aggressive, and called bullsh*t. What sage advice did the Jewish feminist have to offer? A lot:
“The best thing I’ve ever thought of to say when somebody calls you a bitch is “Thank you.” I mean, it totally disarms them. They don’t know what to do. Marlo Thomas always used to say that for a man to be called aggressive, he had to take over your business, but for a woman to be called aggressive, she had to only put you on hold. It’s just a terrible double standard. We have to call them on it. If you call them on it, it changes people’s heads.”
So often, we as women are afraid to say anything back to our discriminators and aggressors, mostly internalizing these quips in an effort to be the bigger person, or simply because confrontation is uncomfortable. But Steinem insists that it’s better to call people out: “Saying something is almost always better than swallowing it and then thinking about it for two days.”And she’s right, because how else will anything change?
Besides calling people out, Steinem says to laugh the sexism away. She learned this tip from Flo Kennedy, her close friend and fellow feminist:
“I learned from Flo Kennedy, who was a great civil rights lawyer and who was my speaking partner for a while. Nobody was better at a comeback. Some guy in some audience would say, “Are you lesbians?” and she would always say, “Are you my alternative?” and everyone would crack up. Again, it’s fun. And it’s consciousness-raising because you’re not just doing it for yourself and the other person, you’re also doing it for the people around you.”
We’re definitely putting this one in our pocket of tricks, while we swoon in awe of Steinem’s brilliance.