Power Gloria

Gloria Steinem is an unapologetically hot, foulmouthed geezer in this week's Observer.

By Rebecca Traister
Published December 14, 2005 5:38PM (EST)

Attention Broadsheet readers: Run, do not walk, to read Sheelah Kolhatkar's terrific miniprofile of Gloria Steinem in this week's New York Observer. It's the Observer's annual year-end issue, this year celebrating "Power Geezers": New York's "grizzled, tenacious protagonists" who are 70-75 years old and "distinguished by both their inability to relinquish power and their general love of life."

At 71, Steinem is one of the 10 women on the Observer's 31-person geezer list (cough, cough).

When Kolhatkar opens her story at a diner with Steinem advising young women to do "whatever they fucking well please" before offering to share her fries, it's easy to believe the feminist pasha's cheery claim that aging is a further radicalizing process for women.

According to the Observer, Steinem is looking into founding a women-owned radio station, writing a road narrative about her travels throughout the U.S., working on her archive at Smith College, attending conferences and spending a lot of time checking "that fucking idiotic e-mail invention that drives you crazy." All this and she still looks great, writes Kolhatkar.

It's funny; I've received letters from Salon readers in the past scolding me for describing Steinem's beauty. But the founder of Ms. is unafraid to tell Kolhatkar that she still cares about how she looks, though she's careful to stay out of the sun and doesn't dress in anything that takes her more than 20 minutes to get into.

Steinem holds forth on feminism's generational differences, allowing that many of her peers don't understand some youthful habits born of sex positivity. "When we see young women running around with their stomachs exposed and tattoos," she tells Kolhatkar, "we don't understand that to them, it's an expression of power. "

She shares the same apartment she has lived in since the 1960s with her 15-pound cat, Galahad ("which some asshole declawed") and a mutt, Moji, whom she inherited from environmentalist David Bale, whom she married in 2000 and who passed away in 2003.

Steinem talks about her qualified appreciation of "Sex and the City," the recent re-embrace of feminist scourge Hugh Hefner ("He's such a jerk  he's pathetic") and her commitment to "getting rid of George Bush, by any means necessary short of violence."

As compelling as anything are Steinem's thoughts on what she'd tell her younger self if given a chance: "I wish our future selves could meet our past selves and say, 'It's OK, it's OK  Do what you want to do."

Steinem gives us all a reason to look forward to geezerdom.

Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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