×

Gloria Steinem says Trump is a ‘disaster’ but a ‘consciousness raiser’

  • Political activist Gloria Steinem says the president has deepened Americans' interest in politics and the media in unprecedented ways.
  • Steinem was the keynote speaker at Create & Cultivate, a conference for women entrepreneurs, in New York.
Steinem was the keynote speaker at “Create & Cultivate,” a conference for female entrepreneurs, on Saturday, May 6 in New York City.
Source: Becki Smith at Smith House Photo
Steinem was the keynote speaker at “Create & Cultivate,” a conference for female entrepreneurs, on Saturday, May 6 in New York City.

Gloria Steinem said at a weekend business conference that Donald Trump is a "disaster and a danger" but the president has deepened Americans' interest in politics and the media in unprecedented ways.

Steinem was the keynote speaker at a conference for Create & Cultivate, an online platform for women entrepreneurs, on Saturday in New York. Steinem, who founded Ms. Magazine and GreenStone Media, published her latest memoir "My Life on the Road" in late 2015.

Trump's presidency is a "big-time consciousness raiser," Steinem said during a 40-minute conversation with her friend and fellow feminist activist Amy Richards.

"I feel we're beginning to approach the end of one structure and the beginning of another. It's a time of both danger and possibilities." -Gloria Steinem

"He's made us see that everything is connected," she said. "I'm a hope-aholic, nonetheless. I feel we're beginning to approach the end of one structure and the beginning of another. It's a time of both danger and possibilities."

In her speeches, Steinem often references indigenous culture to frame modern systems. On Saturday, she said the dominance of hierarchy in North America is only 500 years old — which has fueled the emergence of nationalism and patriarchy.

She said Trump's victory has also challenged Americans' attachment to long-standing systems, including the Electoral College, which mandated Trump's win even though he lost the popular vote by about 3 million. Steinem called the college "a function of the slave state." She said it was created early in the republic because Southern states negotiated for a level of influence on federal elections that was greater than the size of their free citizenry, since a massive portion of the Southern population was enslaved.

Past speakers at Create & Cultivate events have included Chelsea Handler, Jessica Alba and Rachel Zoe. Other peer conferences like Girl Boss, which hosted its first event in Los Angeles this spring, have left politics out of their programming.

"At this point, you can't not be political. Being a woman is political," Create and Cultivate founder and CEO Jaclyn Johnson told CNBC. "We want to make money at the end of the day, but we want to balance the value of it. Our programming is everything. No sponsor or dollar amount would ever change that."

Amid a deluge of headlines about "fake news," Steinem also said she now pays to subscribe to The New York Times — "even though I'm often mad at The New York Times," she said.

"We need to reward accuracy and facts," she said. "The election made me value fact-checking and things I can rely on."