Walters Interviews Gloria Steinem

ByABC News

April 18, 2001 -- In the 1970's Gloria Steinem became the symbol of the strong, independent woman. She asked society to change some of its most fundamental beliefs about women, asking for equal pay and equal opportunity.

Steinem saw marriage as a legal trap, arguing that marriage laws were designed for a "person and a half." But last September, she made some shocking news. The person who told the world that "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle," got married.

Her new husband is David Bale, a native of South Africa and the father of actor Christian Bale. Like Steinem, Bale has been a outspoken political activist — a fervent critic of Apartheid and supporter of animal rights.

Recently, Stienem and her new husband spoke together in there first interview. They told ABC's Barbara Walters about how they met, their wedding and their relationship.

On Marriage

Barbara Walters: OK, Gloria, here we go. I have to throw your own words back at you. Quote: "You become a semi-non person when you get married. The surest way to be alone is to get married." Gloria Steinem: Yeah, well I think that's often, that's often true. But to be against unequal marriage is not the same thing as being against marriage.B.W.: Did marriage change or did you change? G.S.: Both you know, but I think that the marriage law changed a lot because if the marriage law was the same law that it was before the women's movement thirty years ago. I wouldn't have been able to do it. You know, because I would have lost most of my civil rights. I would have lost my name, my credit rating, my legal domicile, the ability to start a business. You know really most civil rights. And also, I mean I was a happy single person for fifty years. I mean, this is a long time.

The New Husband

B.W.: Tell us about David, Gloria.G.S.: He's um, an adventurer, and intelligent, and funny, and compassionate, and a pilot. Um, you might look at him and think this is you know, a macho person or something. And he's a person who has also raised his own children. That plus many things in his life have made him somebody who totally defies the idea that men are from Mars and women are from Venus and who really proves that we're all from Earth.B.W.: You share values?G.S.: Yes, absolutely. We've lived very different lives and yet it's - it's amazing. We've come out in exactly the same place.B.W.: What did this man have that no other man had for you? G.S.: You know -We have interests that we share and?B.W.: But you've had interests that you've shared with other menG.S.: We love each other and you know, this is the most important thing that we really want to be together, that we were together you know every minute for a month and you know, which neither of us had ever done before and loved it. That's the most important part? But what you're asking is why make it legal? B.W.: Yeah, why not live with him for example? G.S.: Because we-we both felt that we wanted to be responsible for each other. But it dawned on us that the laws are now equal. You know, we could get married, we also had the offer of a Cherokee wedding ceremony which was wonderful?DAVID BALE: It was sunrise. The wind in the trees above was quite extraordinary, the spiritual leader chanting in Cherokee. [It was] just extraordinarily, totally uplifting, completely spiritual? The Native Americans, they're extremely smart about all of this. After the wedding ceremony, they send you both back to bed again for the day.

Sex Life After Sixty

B.W.: Well, speaking of honeymoons. Gloria, in 1994 you said that you had gone into a period of celibacy and that you didn't miss sex at all. So, I hate to bring this up, David, but you say, I'm quoting: "since menopause, that part of my brain that has always been a reliable home for sex is gone." Does David know that?D.B.: It's not true.B.W.: It's not true?G.S.: (Laughing) No, well it was true though.B.W.: But it came back. (laughs)G.S.: Well, I think that perhaps the truth is this: behavior creates hormones just as hormones create behavior. It's sort of a cycle.

Mr. Steinem

B.W.: When did you first know of Gloria Steinem? D.B.: Oh God. At least 30 years ago. Mostly from articles in newspapers actually. I became a pilot with British Airways, and that's a really macho outfit. And I used to wave articles under their noses and say, you know, "This woman's a prophet, you listen to her because you don't like it now, but it's going to come true." Which it has. B.W.: You were a feminist yourself? What does, what does that mean from the male point of view? D.B.: I was always known as "the feminist" in England. Um, it means really liking women, really respecting, having a lot of awe, which is easy to do. B.W.: Some people might wonder how does David Bale keep from being Mr. Steinem. D.B.: Oh I don't mind at all. B.W.: Now I know you're secure. Most men would say, "Well I never could?" D.B.: I actually sometimes introduce myself as Mr. Steinem?G.S.: And I get very upset. (laughs) "No no, he's not Mr. Steinem." So it's reversed, if we compete about anything it's who's going to take care of the other one because we both grew up being caretakers.

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