Gloria Steinem’s Recurring Dream Prior to Becoming Full Time Feminist Activist

I took the liberty to copy here some paragraphs from Gloria Steinem’s book OUTRAGEOUS ACTS AND EVERYDAY REBELLIONS, as found in the Chapter “Learning from Experience”  under the essay “Life Between the Lines.” She was writing, among other things, the rewards, both tangible and emotional, she’s got from pursuing life as feminist. The essay also pointed out something about Steinem’s dreams:

Sitting in an ethnic hall in Detroit at a celebration of Ms magazine’s tenth birthday, and being tapped on the shoulder by a small, gray-haired woman with gnarled, hardworking hands and a starched cotton housedress that is clearly her best. “I just want you to know,” she says softly, “that you are the inside of me.” All reward comes together in that one moment. Remembering now her touch and words. I can still feel the tears behind my eyes.

I used to have a recurring dream. I was fighting with one person or many people, struggling and kicking and hitting as hard as I could because they were trying to kill me, or hurt someone I loved. I fought with all my strength, as fiercely as I could, harder and harder; yet no matter how hard I fought, they just smiled.

In the 1970s, I told this dream to other women and discovered they shared similar emotions. My dream was a classic scenario of anger, humiliation, and powerlessness.

Sometime in the years that followed, I stopped having that dream. Thinking of the woman in Detroit, I realize now that I associate its disappearance with hearing her words. They crystallized in one moment what women can do and are doing for each other: We are offering each other a new and compassionate kind of power.

In fact, women and men have begun to rescue one another from the prisons of unchosen roles in many ways, large and small. I hope you find a rescuing moment or fact or idea within the pages of this book.  [1983]


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