|Gloria Steinem by Risko|
Gloria Steinem Answers the Proust Questionnaire
The legendary activist on memory, connection, and a perfect day in New York.
BY VANITY FAIR
SEPTEMBER 24, 2020
SEPTEMBER 24, 2020
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
I’m walking down a street in New York, the sun is shining, I’m on my way to see friends who are chosen family—and I’ve just written a couple of pages that I like.
What is your greatest fear?
Dying just a millisecond before I was about to say something I really wanted the people I love to hear.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would love to have a good memory. I’m at an age when remembering something right away is as good as an orgasm.
Which living person do you most despise?
It’s a tie between Donald Trump and Narendra Modi.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Not paying attention to my own finances, and taking taxis to save time.
Where would you like to live? Right where I am—with trips to Africa and India.
What is your most treasured possession?
A yellow pad and fine-pointed disposable pens.
What is your favorite journey?
In a car, at night, with great music on the radio, and someone I love driving.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
An ability to make money.
What is your motto?
We are linked, not ranked.
What do you dislike most about your appearance?
When I’m trying not to cry or get angry, I get stony-faced, and people mistake it for indifference.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I’m a hope-aholic.
Who are your heroes in real life?
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Bella Abzug, Maxine Waters, Elizabeth Warren, Ela Bhatt, Bette Midler, Julie Taymor, Amy Richards, Ruchira Gupta, Christiane Taubira, Dr. Gayatri Devi, Meryl Streep, Bryan Stevenson, Elisabeth Sunday, Laura Emrick—and so many more.
Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?
A woman in a time when patriarchy, racism, and nationalism are myths of the past.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
In my childhood, I was bitten by a rat while asleep, went to the emergency room, and came home to find spots of blood licked up by the rat.
How would you like to die?
Sometimes when I’m on a plane, as I often am, the weather is rough and we’re worried about going down. I think: If I hold the hand of the person next to me, I’ll be holding everyone’s hand. Like my dear friend, the late Wilma Mankiller, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, I want to know: I’m going to the other side of the mountain.