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 ?
I can say, however, that my life and relationships are much richer because I listened to and followed the wisdom of Gloria Steinem and other smart women.
I hadn't heard about the famous feminist Gloria Steinem before the show and neither had any of my classmates.
Historic documents include 1970 Congressional testimony by Gloria Steinem and a Shirley Chisholm speech to Congress in 1969 arguing for the enactment of the Equal Rights Amendment.
I'm still mad about Susan Sarandon, Annette Bening, Martina Navratilova, Meryl Streep, Gloria Steinem .
But really, it took World War Two to break away from the unmentioned unmentionables and later for people like Gloria Steinem to completely destroy them.
Among that group: Allen Ginsberg, Gloria Steinem, Abbie Hoffman, Bob Dylan, and Malcolm X.
We wanted it to be different from some other feminist bookstores," says Lui, "where when you walk in, there's all white women working there, Naomi Wolfe and Gloria Steinem on the posters and maybe a scary dream catcher or something.
She went on to establish the National Women's Political Caucus in 1971 with activists including Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug.
Quizzes, quotations, cartoons, poetry, projects and excerpts from authors such as Gloria Steinem and Maya Angelou make up this workbook-looking volume.
Aside from vulgar entertainers and corporate vultures, his rogues' gallery is populated almost exclusively by left-of-center public figures, pundits, and media personalities: Michael Moore, Ted Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, Howard Dean, George Soros, Bill Moyers, Gloria Steinem, Dan Rather, and other usual suspects (plus some who are so obscure or so passe as to be unusual).
became super meaningful to me the night I could hear echoes of their chaotic set while I shook hands with Gloria Steinem during a lunar eclipse.
It is interesting to note that the book's cover contains supportive commentaries by Gloria Steinem and Louise Bourgeois, both nationally recognized as feminist leaders.