Feminist Icon Gloria Steinem Visits Fairbanks

Gloria Steinem at a press conference in Fairbanks Friday. CREDIT DAN BROSS / KUAC
Gloria Steinem at a press conference in Fairbanks Friday.

Feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem speaks at the University of Alaska Fairbanks on Friday night. The human rights activist’s visit was instigated by local politics.

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University of Alaska Fairbanks Summer Session and Lifelong Learning Program Director Michelle Bartlet reached out to the Ms. Magazine founder last year after a borough assembly member unsuccessfully pushed to get the local Food Coop to stop selling the magazine because of a story in support of the right to abortion.

Bartlet says a Fairbanks organizing committee subsequently raised thirty thousand dollars from individuals, businesses and organizations to pay for the Steinem’s event, which is free to the public. Steinem spoke with reporters Friday morning. She says Alaska was the only U.S. state she’d yet to visit and that the local story about an attempt to ban Ms. got her attention.

Steinem attributes attempts to do things like ban a magazine empowering women’s reproductive rights, to a fundamental top down control model that underlies injustice and violence.

Steinem points to what she calls “supremacy crimes” like mass shootings and murder suicides as the saddest expression of the male control mindset.  

The 81 year old Steinem says she takes hope in major changes she’s seen over her decades as an activist and organizer, adding that humans have great ability to adapt.

Gloria Steinem’s only Alaska speaking engagement is tonight event at UAF, but the event will be streaming live over the web.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.