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Gloria Steinem on finding hope after the election: 'Look laterally at each other and not up at the White House'

Gloria Steinem says, for those who are looking for hope after the election,
Gloria Steinem says, for those who are looking for hope after the election, "we need to look laterally at each other, not up at the White House."
Carly Romeo

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Before the 2016 election, feminist writer Gloria Steinem says she wouldn't have been all that surprised that Hillary Clinton could lose, but she would have been shocked that Donald Trump could win.

The fact that America still hasn't had a woman president, says Steinem, goes to show just how big of a hurdle it is to change the biases we hold about women leaders.

"Even though there are many more good, nurturing male parents than there used to be, still, we're mostly raised by women," says Steinem "and we therefore associate female authority with childhood, and emotionality, and nurturing and great qualities, but not those that you think of as public and global leadership qualities."

Gloria Steinem spoke with Take Two's Alex Cohen ahead of a CAP UCLA event on Sunday where she sat down for a conversation with Jill Soloway, the creator of the Amazon series "Transparent."

She shared her thoughts about the future of the women's movement, and future of the country as a whole, with Donald Trump as president.

Interview highlights:

On an essay she wrote for TIME Magazine in 1970, titled "What if Women Win," and how hopeful she was that it would become a reality

"It was so distant as a possibility that women could win, and/or that there could be a female president, that this was an assignment, not an idea of my own. But it did cause me to begin to think about how different it might be... It's hard to think oneself back into that state of mind, [but] I think I was excited by the imagining and grateful that there were enough people that were challenging the status quo so that one didn't feel crazy, one felt that it was possible."

On whether she thought back then that there would be a woman president in her lifetime

"I don't think I would have said, even then, it would happen in my lifetime that we would have a female president— or a female president who really represented the majority interests of women, not a Sarah Palin or a Margaret Thatcher. Because this is arguably the most powerful position in the world, and there's a lot more competition for it than there are perhaps for the chiefs of state of other countries. But I think I would have thought that once we won the majority, as we have done, on every single issue and all the public opinion polls, we would be further ahead than now."

On what needs to happen to make more progress toward a world where men and women are on more equal footing

"I think we need to look where we are... So if we make every day a day in which we have increased that kind of balance, for instance if we have at least listened as much as we have talked, or talked as much as we have listened and created that balance. If we have looked at the groups around us and said how come this group isn't [as] representative as it should be. If we have made sure there's laughter and music along the way. You know, so I've learned that to agonize and think only about the future is to give up a chance to influence the future by what you're doing right now."

On how to find hope, for those who look at this moment as a time of despair

"I think clearly we need to look laterally at each other and not up at the White House. When we look up, we feel isolated. When we look at each other, we realize that we are the majority— even of the popular vote, that was in Hillary Clinton's favor, and also if you look at public opinion polls of the issues. All the issues that [Donald Trump] opposes, the majority of Americans support. So that is very heartening, and we realize that we have a lot of people power, and there's much that we can do."

To hear Alex Cohen's full interview with Gloria Steinem, click the blue player above.