"As Sheryl Sandberg says in her new book, the next battle is to lean in, and not leave before we leave," Arianna Huffington told BuzzFeed Shift at Thursday's premiere of the PBS documentary MAKERS, which traces the history of the American women's movement and its future.
As women featured in the film — including Gloria Steinem, Marlo Thomas, and Katie Couric — ate risotto cakes and salmon with a capacity crowd of feminists and friends post-screening at Lincoln Center, Huffington said that she saw an opportunity for contemporary women to "help redefine success" so that "we don't feel like we have to do success the way men did success." She added, "There are far too many people who are burned out, and I think we women can change that."
Asked if she considered herself a feminist, she referenced the documentary's third hour, which focuses on contemporary women. Some of them argue that whether a woman calls herself a feminist matters less than what she does to advance women's equality. Whatever we call it, said Huffington, "we have to continue to expand women's roles and the ability for women to do whatever they want to do."
In the film, young feminist organizer (and Steinem mentee) Shelby Knox says that while she's proud to call herself a feminist, "I don't care if a woman calls herself a turtle and she's doing pro-equality work. The work is still getting done."
At the premiere, Knox explained that "the biggest challenge for our generation is that we have been told for our entire lives that we are equal" — and so when women do run up against discrimination in their lives, they can feel "crazy and alone."
She also mentioned the movement's current lack of a central leader: "The fact that there's not a person or even a single organization we can point to is a problem." However, she said, "our generation has done very well in getting a lot of faces out there." Many were in attendance Thursday night, from Samhita Mukhopadhyay, executive editor of Feministing, to Rookie founder Tavi Gevinson.
Huffington had advice for younger women from her mom: "She taught me to not to be afraid of failing, which so often holds young women back. She always used to say to me, failure is not the opposite of success, it's a stepping stone. I say the same to my daughters."