Journalist Gloria Steinem on activism, patriarchy and political power

Women sit next to each other on a stage.
Activist and journalist Gloria Steinem laughs while talking with MPR News host Kerri Miller as part of the Distinguished Carlson Lecture Series, presented by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in February 2020.
Bruce Silcox | Courtesy of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs

In her latest book, “The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off,” activist and journalist Gloria Steinem writes this: “It’s not only that we live in a patriarchy; it’s that patriarchy lives in us.”

In a recent discussion, Steinem talked with MPR News host Kerri Miller about that quote and the role of patriarchy, specifically in how it can start at home. She said:

“We’re all the product of how we were raised in our families and if our families were not democratic families — that is, women raise children more than men did — I rest my case. We absorb that and we absorb the idea that if there is a hierarchy in our family, then it must be inevitable. And this, I think, we’re just beginning to connect to our understanding of national and world politics.”

During the wide-ranging conversation as part of the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ Distinguished Carlson Lecture, Steinem explored the history of women and activism; the current conversation surrounding the Equal Rights Amendment; the #MeToo movement; and what it would take for a woman to become president of the United States.


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