Former Playboy bunny and current feminist icon Gloria Steinem sat down for an interview with Cosmopolitan magazine (of course) to promote her new book, chat about sexism, and give out some advice to Cosmo readers about how to handle being called a bitch.
Is it easier to be an ambitious woman in this day and age, Steinem was asked.
She responded yes but said that women are still punished if they are not submissive. “Still, if you don’t play a submissive role, if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, you get to be a loud black woman or a bitchy white woman,” Steinem explained.
How does an ambitious woman push back against that?
To which Steinem responded: “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.”
And Steinem shared her thoughts on finding a good man and what makes a man sexy.
“There’s not like this perfect system, but can you be yourself with him? Can you say what you think and care about? Do you feel like you have to wear your makeup to bed? Can you be your own self with that person? And do they make you better? Some reporter once asked me what the sexiest thing a man ever did for me was, and I said, ‘Iron my blouse!'”
Cosmo also asked the feminist icon about how to combat everyday sexism “like when your boyfriend’s father says, ‘No man is voting for Hillary?'”
“Well, I would just add in the word ‘insecure,’ no insecure man is voting for Hillary. Laugh at them. To an asshole like Donald Trump, we just need to come back and say, ‘You think she’s not a 10? You’ve never been a 1! If you lost your wallet, every woman would be gone.’ Saying something is almost always better than swallowing it and then thinking about it for two days. So if you put that [exchange] in a little text and then you can share it — and we all learn from each other. 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.”
Steinem’s new memoir, “My Life on the Road,” will be on bookshelves October 27th if you want to read even more advice from the feminist sage.