By Elaine Ayala
San Antonio Express-News.
Tina Brown Live Media made a big impression Wednesday on the sold-out crowd at the Charline McCombs Empire Theatre.
Women in the World Texas, a Lone Star State version of her signature summits, packaged entertainment, information and inspiration in music, video and talk in a tightly produced show.
Though star-studded with notables from the political, humanitarian and entertainment arenas, no one got the audience to rise to its feet — twice — like feminist icon Gloria Steinem, fresh off her cameo on CBS’ “The Good Wife.”
Steinem, 80, reflected on the origins and development of American feminism, responding to questions posed by actor-activist Eva Longoria, who called her a “feminist superhero.”
Feminists today represent “a major movement” no matter what they’re called, Steinem said. No such movement existed when she was growing up, she said, and after it formed it was followed by right-wing backlash.
She cautioned against viewing it as “a white women’s movement.”
“We have to understand that the movements are all connected,” Steinem said, referencing those fighting for reproductive freedom, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender rights and those who call themselves “womanists,” “girrls with two r’s” and ” mujeristas.”
“Our enemies are the same,” she said.
Steinem also reminded the audience that the Raza Unida Movement of 1970s Texas — which fellow Women in the World speaker Rosie Castro helped lead — was the first political party to support reproductive freedom.
The mostly female audience spent the day hearing about the work of women across the globe, including Robi Damelin, an Israeli mother who lost her son to a Palestinian sniper and helped form the Palestinian Israeli organization Parents Circle-Families Forum that works to end the cycle of revenge.
Filmmaker Xoel Pamos spoke of his documentary about honor killings and Amina and Sarah Said, teen sisters allegedly killed by their father in Lewisville in 2008.
Second lady Jill Biden spoke of the needs of military families and the female Marines assisting Afghan women.
In a session on “Latino Power on the Rise,” Longoria noted the advice fellow panelist United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta gave her more than 15 years ago: “Someday you’re going to have a voice — “so be sure you have something to say.”Seguin singer-songwriter Liza Garza was moved by the presentations.
“It’s so important that we share our stories,” she said. “It creates a sense of community, not to relive the pain but to remember how resilient we have become, to remember the divinity we come from.”
Brown referenced the legacy of “feisty” Texas women, such as the late Gov. Ann Richards, in choosing San Antonio as a summit site.