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Feminist Gloria Steinem: Kansas Shows It's Finally A Political Plus To Be A Woman

Gage Skidmore
Activist Gloria Steinem says the 2018 midterm elections are leap forward for women in politics.

As lesbian, Native American Sharice Davids unseated a four-term Kansas Congressman and state Sen. Laura Kelly chalked up a decisive win over Kris Kobach in the Kansas governor's race, one feminist hero watched the state's election results from afar. 

“This was the first time in my lifetime that to be a woman, and also to be a woman of color, was more of an advantage at least in the House and other state-level elections … than being a white guy,” Gloria Steinem told Steve Kraske on KCUR's Up To Date. She will be in Kansas City Saturday for a Planned Parenthood Great Plains benefit.

Steinem calls the election of a record number of women, especially women of color, a leap forward for women. More than 100 women will serve in the U.S. House in 2019, beating the previous record of 84.

Despite losses by Democrat Claire McCaskill in Missouri and Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, the Senate will count at least 24 women in its ranks, improving on the current high number by one.

On the state level,  Kansas Democrat Laura Kelly and eight other women have won governors’ races this year, tying previous records from 2004 and 2007.

Steinem said after a long history of genocide and mistreatment that it is a big step forward to elect two Native American women to Congress, including Davids in Kansas.

“It’s really heartening to see that beginning to be remedied,” said Steinem.

The feminist author said she wasn’t planning to give Davids or other elected women advice, but if asked, she was there listen and offer her support.

“The fact of her experience already makes her knowledgeable in areas which I am not, but if she thinks I can help her, I’m here,” said Steinem.

Despite the higher number of women elected, Steinem, who is 84, said it’s frustrating that women are still underrepresented in politics.

“The only advantage of being as old as I am is I can remember when it was worse, so I have hope,” said Steinem.

Maria Carter is the news director at KCUR 89.3. You can find her on twitter at @mariacarter.

Devin Davis is an assistant producer on Up To Date.