Who is Gloria Steinem?
Gloria Steinem did not have a formal education until she was eleven. Despite this, she advanced in her schooling and was eventually accepted into Smith College. There, she became interested in and focused on government. Steinem received her degree in 1956, graduating phi beta kappa. She proceeded to be awarded a fellowship, allowing her to continue her education in India.
Steinem went on to become an accomplished writer, and, in 1968, helped in founding New York magazine. In this magazine, she wrote a column on politics and government. As Steinem wrote more and more in the political sphere, eventually, the issue of women's rights presented itself to her. Steinem became engaged in the movement for equality following a piece she wrote on abortion; Steinem had attended a hearing on abortion conducted by a feminist group, and found herself drawn into the movement for women's rights. Not too long after, Gloria Steinem developed a strong presence in the feminist movement, working to achieve equality for women. In 1971, she helped to create the National Women's Political Caucus. Following this, just a year later, she cofounded Ms, a magazine advocating for women's rights (and today, for the rights of all marginalized communities).
Steinem did not stop there, she organized many meetings dedicated to women and to equality and lectured on these subjects. Steinem continued her success as a writer by publishing Outrageous Acts and Every Day Rebellions in 1983, a collection of essays. Three years later, she published again, this time a biography on Marilyn Monroe, Marylin: Norma Jean, in 1986. One could say that this book also had roots in feminism, as it women in Hollywood are often ignored and treated unfairly. Just one year later, Steinem experienced yet another success, as she became one consulting editor for Ms., the magazine she created. Steinem's work to better the world also encompassed raising awareness of child abuse, and in 1993, Steinem worked with others to produce and eventually narrate a documentary on HBO called "Multiple Personalities: The Search for Deadly Memories", which connected mental illness present in adults who were abused as children to the abuse they faced. Steinem continued her work in film, as that same year, she co-produced the documentary, "Better Off Dead", which handled issues such as abortion and the death penalty.
Gloria Steinem's work has continued into the 2000s; in 2004, she cofounded the Women's Media Center, and was both cofounder and president of Voters for Choice. Steinem continued to pursue her passion for abortion rights by becoming extremely involved in the pro-choice movement. She worked with the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and also cofounded URGE, an organization allowing the advancement of sex education and supporting the pro-choice movement. Her work as a feminist leader did not stop there, Steinem also founded the Ms. Foundation for Women, a fund allowing for the growth of grassroots projects in benefit of women. Additionally, Gloria Steinem has been and still is passionate about the education of girls; she helped to create Take Our Daughters to Work Day, an initiative encouraging young girls to pursue the career of their choice.
Gloria Steinem's accomplishments have not gone unrecognized; Steinem was awarded The Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal Award in 2014, an award which is given to those who contribute to the ideals Eleanor Roosevelt thought significant, such as the arts, community service, and humanitarian causes. Our favorite (ex-) White House resident, President Barack Obama, awarded Steinem the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013, an achievement recognized in an issue of Ms.
While this isn't nearly enough to demonstrate the accomplishments of Gloria Steinem, I hope it has given background on who she is and what she believes in. Steinem has always been a hero of mine, and last summer, I was given the opportunity to interview her. I did this over email, as Steinem was traveling at the time.
Are there any specific events in which you encountered sexism and misogyny in your life that led you to claim the title of "feminist"?
As a freelance journalist, I experienced it daily. The turning point for me was when I covered an abortion hearing. I realized that my experience was not unique, rather it was universal.
In the past, sometimes it's been difficult for non-white women in the feminist movement. Do you believe feminism has improved since the late 60s in terms of being inclusive of People of Color?
What do you feel has been the hardest battle to win while you've been involved in the feminist movement?
A battle that has yet to be won is the passing of the ERA: http://www.eracoalition.org/.
What is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self when she was first entering feminism?
The mantra I tried to always repeat was one I learned in India - to listen as much as I spoke. I would still advise that to my younger self.