Gloria Steinem – 2012 Humanist of the Year

I had read, probably in some of my feminist literature, about humanism having been rather sexist – if not now then in the past. So I was seeing what I could Google and I found this article about Gloria Steinem getting an award from the the Humanists – 2012 Humanist of the Year  (see thehumanist.org) . It looks like a sign that Humanists are trying to make a bridge with the Feminists. The subtitle of the Sept/Oct edition is, “Here come the Secular Women” (as if we/ they have not been around all along? – did they just find us?)

While there were some very supportive comments about the Steinem interview – there was also this:

“Bestowing a humanist award upon a feminist? Feminism is not humanism. Feminism is part of the problem that humanism would resolve….”

Link to article HERE

I thought this was interesting ->

2012 Humanist of the Year Gloria Steinem sat down with the Humanist magazine at the 71st Annual Conference of the American Humanist Association, held June 7-10, 2012, in New Orleans. The following is an adapted version of that interview recorded on Friday, June 7.

The Humanist: What do you think of the U.S. Catholic sisters who were reprimanded for not speaking out strongly enough against gay marriage, abortion, or the notion of women priests? They were actually faulted for focusing too much on poverty and economic justice.

Steinem: I was perversely delighted to see the Catholic Church and the Vatican go after nuns because I think they made a major error. People are quite clear in viewing nuns as the servants and the teachers and the supporters of the poor. You contrast that with the fact that the Vatican did virtually nothing about long-known pedophiles, and it’s just too much.

Their stance on abortion is also quite dishonest historically, because as the Jesuits (who always seem to be more honest historians of the Catholic Church) point out, the Church approved of and even regulated abortion well into the mid-1800s. The whole question of ensoulment was determined by the date of baptism. But after the Napoleonic Wars there weren’t enough soldiers anymore and the French were quite sophisticated about contraception. So Napoleon III prevailed on Pope Pius IX to declare abortion a mortal sin, in return for which Pope Pius IX got all the teaching positions in the French schools and support for the doctrine of papal infallibility.

There are also this article at Humanist.org that I liked, A Woman’s Place? The Dearth of Women in the Secular Movement by Susan Jacoby.

While some are happy to leave behind the idea of “God” – they still want to cling to the concept of the patriarchy / hierarchy. In my mind – the patriarchy is what most (organized) religion is all about. One hasn’t left religion behind until one can leave the patriarchy behind.

Another snip from the Steinem interview:

Jennifer Bardi: Do you consider yourself a humanist?

Steinem: Yes, a humanist except that humanism sometimes is not seen as inclusive of spirituality. To me, spirituality is the opposite of religion. It’s the belief that all living things share some value. So I would include the word spiritual just because it feels more inclusive to me. Native Americans do this when they offer thanks to Mother Earth and praise the interconnectedness of “the two-legged and the four, the feathered and the clawed,” and so on. It’s lovely.

The Humanist: So we need a more positive and inclusive term.

Steinem: Yes, because it’s not about not believing. It’s about rejecting a god who looks like the ruling class.

Earlier in the interview, Steinem said, “I believe in People, I believe in Nature” (as opposed to God). It sounds like she is essentially a Pantheist. I like the ideas of the the Pantheists (WPM). While there may be some sexism within the group – I haven’t seen it.

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