Steinem, Gloria

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Steinem, Gloria

Gloria Steinem is one of the most important feminist writers and organizers of the late twentieth century. Since the 1960s, Steinem has been a political activist and organizer who has urged equal opportunity for women and the breaking down of gender roles. As a writer she has produced influential essays about the need for social and cultural change.

Steinem was born on March 25, 1934, in Toledo, Ohio. Her parents divorced when she was 11 years old. Steinem enrolled at Smith College in 1952 and graduated in 1956. After graduation she went to India to study at the universities of Delhi and Calcutta. It was there that she began publishing freelance articles in newspapers.

In the 1960s, Steinem continued to pursue a writing career, working first for a political satire magazine in New York. Her breakthrough came in 1963 with the publication of her article "I Was a Playboy Bunny," which retold her experiences working in the Manhattan Playboy Club. For the next few years, her articles appeared in many national women's magazines. Steinem also wrote comedy scripts for a weekly political satire television show, That Was the Week That Was.

Her attention shifted to politics in 1968 when Steinem began writing a column for New York magazine. During the late 1960s, the "women's liberation movement" began and Steinem soon became a leading supporter of the movement. In 1971 she, along with betty friedan, bella abzug, and shirley chisholm, founded the National Women's Political Caucus. The mission of the caucus was to identify and encourage women to run for political office.

In 1972, Steinem founded and served as editor of Ms. magazine. Ms. addressed feminist issues, including reproductive rights, employment discrimination, sexuality, and gender roles. The magazine presented Steinem with a platform to air her views about the contemporary social scene. That same year Steinem was one of the cofounders of the Ms. Foundation for Women, a nonprofit organization that pioneered the concept of giving money to programs that addressed the specific concerns of women. At that time less than one percent of foundation grants were given to programs that supported women's issues such as Domestic Violence, female-friendly legislation, and economic disparities.

Since the 1970s, Steinem has been a spokesperson for many feminist causes. She has sought to protect Abortion rights, establish rape crisis centers, and guarantee work environments free from sexual discrimination. Steinem has distinguished between "erotica" and Pornography, believing that nonviolent sexual material is acceptable but pornography should be banned. More radical feminists have criticized Steinem for these and other positions, arguing that she seeks legal changes that falsely promise equal opportunity and fair treatment.

Despite these criticisms, Steinem has remained a popular public figure, traveling across the United States and worldwide, and lecturing to packed audiences. In addition, she is a prolific writer, regularly contributing articles to magazines and newspapers; she also provides political commentary on television, radio, and the Internet. A collection of her articles and essays, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, was published in 1983. In 1986, she published Marilyn, a biography of film star Marilyn Monroe retold from a feminist perspective. In Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem (1992), Steinem looked inward, discussing ways that women could empower themselves. And, in 1994, she wrote Moving Beyond Words, a collection of essays on the politics of gender.

In addition to her numerous awards and honorary degrees, in 1993, Steinem was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York. In 2000, she astonished observers by getting married at the age of 66 to an entrepreneur she had met at a "Economic systems are not value-free columns of numbers based on rules of reason, but ways of expressing what varying societies believe is important."
—Gloria Steinem

Voters for Choice (VFC) fundraiser in 1999. Steinem is president of VFC, which is a bipartisan Political Action Committee that supports candidates working for reproductive freedom. In May 2002, Steinem and her supporters celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of Ms. magazine.

Further readings

Davis, Flora. 1999. Moving the Mountain: The Women's Movement in America Since 1960. Champaign: Univ. of Illinois Press.

Heilbrun, Carolyn G. 1995. The Education of a Woman: The Life of Gloria Steinem. New York: Dial Press.

Marcello, Patricia Cronin. 2004. Gloria Steinem: A Biography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press

Stern, Sydney Ladensohn. 1997. Gloria Steinem: Her Passions, Politics, and Mystique. Secaucus, N.J.: Carol Pub. Group.

Cross-references

Dworkin, Andrea; Feminist Jurisprudence; Ireland, Patricia; MacKinnon, Catharine Alice; Millett, Katherine Murray; Sex Discrimination; Women's Rights.

References in periodicals archive ?
The authors who signed the Writers' Call for Justice at Quebecor World are: Ben Bagdikian, Sallie Bingham, Rosellen Brown, Gerard Colby, Annie Dillard, Ariel Dorfman, Barbara Ehrenreich, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Thomas Frank, Jim Hightower, Marilyn French, Thomas Geoghegan, Jim Hightower, Barbara Kingsolver, Naomi Klein, Maxine Kumin, Dave Marsh, Linda McQuaig, Marge Piercy, Judy Rebick, Gloria Steinem, Meredith Tax and Howard Zinn.
Cameras were taken to a Los Angeles high school to ask teen girls if they knew whom Gloria Steinem is.
Ruth was asked to name the Roman goddess of love, and Gloria Steinem was asked when the first brassiere was patented.
Earning advanced praise from Gloria Steinem, Maxine Hong Kingston, Delores Huerta and others; "Voices of Our Own" speaks passionately to the meaning of home, the power of hope, and the spirit of women overcoming odds and creating a community from scratch -- a community evolving across cultures, ages, and accents.
There's (a sex) life after 60: In the bad old days, women of a certain age - let's say somewhere between Gloria Steinem and Katharine Hepburn - usually had it rough.
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem, who made headlines this fall with her marriage to activist David Bale, appears this month on the cover of BUST, the hip magazine "for women with something to get off their chests.
Larry Flynt,'' criticized the film's detractors - among them feminist Gloria Steinem - who have complained that the movie glorifies the pornography industry.
Leading the interactive discussion were Gloria Steinem, Co-Founder Editor of Ms.
With apologies to Gloria Steinem, however, women's influx into the wage labor force has less to do with feminist-inspired flight from the boredom of housework than a decline in real wages and the resulting need for women to contribute more extensively to household income.
The attacks I have received are from black divas, who are not the rank-and-file black feminists of black women writers--and who are sponsored by Gloria Steinem, people like that.
founder and current consulting editor Gloria Steinem.
Gorman's comments on my letter about the use of Ms, I would like to mention that this rather militant expression came about with the Women's Lib movement about 30 years ago, headed by ardent feminists Germaine Greer and Gloria Steinem.