Gloria Steinem inspires the Progress Summit with straight talk about equality and Trump

  • National Newswatch

Gloria Steinem drew whoops and cheers after she declared "Welcome to a 'Trump-free zone'." It was a crowd-winning moment coming off Ed Broadbent's kick-off speech. Broadbent'S own moments included his declarion that he will run for the NDP leadership. That, of course, was his contribution to April Fool's Day.Steinem's presence at the Progress Summit comes at a pivotal time. Talk about the social and professional treatment of women is hitting a fever pitch. The Jian Ghomeshi sexual violence trial is still being analyzed and criticized, Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial is back in the news and Donald Trump's disparaging remarks about women are about as frequent as a tweet. Since his death last week, Rob Ford's legacy of misogyny has challenged the positive and forgiving remarks people are making.You could hear a pin drop for most of the speech on the weighty issue of gender and race equality. At times she combined the ideas. This included highlighting the importance of black women as leaders. Apparently Steinem learned about feminism from a black female leader -- an experience that helped determine her passion. She noted that freedom of reproduction should be a fundamental human right just as freedom of speech is.The deep listening was broken at times by fits of applause that grew progressively louder and longer when Steinem declared pay equity drives economic stability.As tweeter @meslin noted, "...Steinem is brilliantly connecting the dots between domestic violence, police violence, power & 'masculinity gone mad.'"The monopoly on madness may not belong strictly to men. David Cole who moderated the Q&A that followed Steinem's speech reminded the room that neither Bernie Sanders nor Hillary Clinton would, when asked, label Trump a racist. Steinem responded by saying that she's not running for office so she can comfortably state that he is.Cole was a good moderator. He guided a discussion that allowed Steinem to weave together her many areas of concern and how they may be addressed. The conversation seemed very natural as though they had been long friends. As the discussion wrapped up, Steinem thanked Cole for giving her hope.