Gloria Steinem: Trump Sexual Assault Allegations Are ‘Anita Hill Plus a Million’

The roster of media mavens, moguls and boldface names spotted today at Michael's.

DianeClehaneLunch_FeaturedSometimes the best laid plans go awry. But sometimes, just like my mother always said, everything works out in the end. After having a last minute Lunch cancellation, I was left without the usual weekly interview that accompanies the list of movers and shakers at Michael’s. But then Gloria Steinem walked in.

Clad in an understated black turtleneck and wide legged pants, the feminist icon sailed into the dining room virtually unnoticed. When she was settled into her table, I walked over and tentatively introduced myself. She was extremely gracious considering I’d popped out of nowhere, pen in hand and brandishing a notebook. “Please, sit down.” After some gushing (It was Gloria Steinem for pete’s sake!), I asked her what she thought about the accusations of sexual assault leveled at Donald Trump. She described the situation as “Anita Hill plus a million.” She told me the sexist rhetoric of the Republican candidate “has caused a lot of women and men to see the underlying problem,” and then added, “And it’s all about trying to control women’s bodies.”

I told her that instead of worrying about the election itself, my fears and the fears of many of my friends are now centered on a potentially violent aftermath. Apparently, she’s not worried. “It’s a fervent minority,” she said.  “It was the same thing when Obama was running.” And what about the polls that put Trump’s support at 40 percent? “The [Hillary] backlash is mainly white men statistically speaking, although I hate to generalize.” She believes the mathematics are clearly in Hillary Clinton‘s favor. “She’ll get to the White House and win big.” She explained Hillary Clinton’s ‘likability’ issue this way: “A woman with ambition is unforgivable.”

She told me as much in recounting some of the conversations she’s had with men around the country as part of her book tour for My Life on the Road (Penguin/Random House), which chronicles her growth as an activist as well as the growth of the movement for equality. “Men come up to me all the time and say, ‘A black woman took my job.’ I say to them, ‘Who said it was your job?’ The most qualified person should get the job.”

Just as I felt I might be overstaying my welcome, her lunch date, Sara Miller McClure, arrived at the table. “Let me introduce you to a sister journalist,” said Gloria to her friend. Like I said, sometimes things work out for the best.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Marlo Thomas and producer Gary Pudney. I happened to be standing outside trying to get cell service when Marlo arrived 10 minutes later. Inside there was something of a Ms. moment when Marlo realized Gloria Steinem was inside and made a beeline over to her table before motioning Gary over to meet the living legend.

2. Mickey Ateyeh and The Fragrance Foundation’s Elizabeth Musmanno. Mickey told me she will be hosting a lunch here at Michael’s next Wednesday (when else?) for Jill Roache for her work with the Hunts Point Alliance for Children in recognition of the pilot after school program for children in the Bronx. “It’s the most underserved of all the five boroughs,” Mickey told me. “Hunts Point Alliance is doing really great things for the kids.”

3. Andrew Stein and Missy Hargrave

4. Allen & Co.’s Stan Shuman

5. Herb Siegel

6. Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina and Michael Kramer

7. Tracey Jackson

8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia and celebrity chef Alex Hitz

9. Bisila Bokoko

11. Gloria Steinem and Sara Miller McClure

12. Penske Media vice chair Gerry Byrne

14. Simon & Schuster’s Alice Mayhew

15. Michael Peterson

16. Discovery ID’s Henry Schleiff