ELITEVILLE—Feminist icon Gloria Steinem is a woman who knows a little bit about words. She is, in fact, something of an amateur etymologist. That knowledge was on exhibit the other night at a little soiree hosted by Glamour at Joe’s Pub in The City. Cornered by New York Magazine's The Cut (why are they always cornering people?), she was asked about “Yahoo's big Tumblr acquisition. Or, more specifically, whether Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer should take it upon herself to crack down more stringently on Tumblr's porn and ‘thinspiration’ sites.”
Apparently without hesitation, Steinem shot back, “Yes,” but then quickly caught herself and pointed out that, as The Cut put it, "Mayer's responsibility isn't just about her being a woman.”
She clarified, "It's not about biology, it's about consciousness. If you are a civil rights person, you don't want to further racist literature, and if you are concerned about anti-Semitism, then you don't want to further that kind of literature either.
"Porn and erotica aren't the same thing," she further edified. "Porne means female slave, and it isn't about sex — it's about violence against women."
Etymologically-speaking, of course, she is correct (though many would go with the first definition, "prostitute"), but so what? Were we to live our lives tied forevermore to ancient meanings, it would be we who have become slaves to history. Ms. Steinem's given name, for instance, would be eternally stuck with the ancient Latin meaning for the word gloriari—"to boast, vaunt, brag, pride oneself"—from which it derives. Then again, if the shoe fits.
But at any rate it’s good to know this feminist legend equates porn with racism and anti-Semitism. Bestiality, one assumes, must have slipped her mind for the moment. That sometimes happens when you’re cornered at a Glamour party.
Photo: Gloria Steinem in 1972.