When journalist, feminist, and social activist Gloria Steinem was 45 (33 years ago), she wrote about her surprise discovery that women grow more radical with age. She reported this discovery after more than two decades speaking to campus groups, consciousness-raising groups, groups of many many ilks and ills. She had data.
This was 1979. At that time, she was pondering critics’ claim that radical feminism must be dead since it wasn’t prevalent on 1979 college campuses, where anybody with half a brain knew were the only places women could get away with this stuff.
Deploying her succinct logic, she determined that experience sparks women to confront injustice and college women simply hadn’t enough flint on steel to ignite, not yet. What they had was the chance to earn a college degree and, bless them, many did.
Gloria is almost 20 years older than I am and I am almost 10 years older that the women in college in 1979. What strikes me from my middle-aged, middle ground, is that radical is a moment, a discovery, an affirmation.
I don’t think of Gloria Steinem as older. I don’t think of women our son’s age as younger. I don’t think of my contemporaries as any age in particular. But, radical? God, yes.