Gloria Steinem: Actual Wonder Woman

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Imagine a female going against the grain during an era where women were meekly succumbing to their male partners, receiving backlash and criticism for acknowledging the marginalize role women play in society, and proudly placing her name on controversial topics. As a woman would she inspire you or mortify your perspective as a woman? During this era would you praise her bravery or chastise her rebellious behavior? In the 1950s a woman named Gloria Steinem began her journey to become a feminist innovator, activist, journalist, and women’s liberation representative by defying women’s expectations, unapologetically writing bold articles and taking the backlash to the chin.

Gloria Marie Steinem was born March 25, 1934 in Toledo, Ohio. She is the second child of Leo Steinem and Ruth Nuneviller, and is the younger sister to Susanne Steinem-Patch. As a child Gloria was consistently moving, because her father Leo was a traveling salesman. This meant that she was unable to attend school regularly until her parents divorced in 1944. She was eleven and had to take care of her mentally ill mother, whom suffered from chronic depression. However she was able to attend school regularly and graduated Waitre High School. After high school she attended Smith College, and studied government. It was uncommon for women to study government in the 1950s, and it was obvious that she was not going to take the path of least resistance for women. In 1956 she graduated from Smith College and was able to study abroad in India. While she was there she nonviolently protested against government policies. Her experiences in India sparked an interest in activism. Precedingly, she began her career as a journalist and writer in New York. She co-founded New York Magazine and MS Magazine. She used her platforms to inform readers of the cruel treatment of women, and feminist perspective on political and domestic issues. At a protest whose purpose was to legalize abortion she revealed the story of her abortion at age 22. During her growing success she faced substantial backlash from other feminist groups such as the Redstockings, because of her glamourous looks and association with the CIA; despite giving their abortion hearing publicity. Their disapproval did not deter her from writing, and speaking out against what she believes in. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1986. However, through treatment she was able to conquer, yet, another battle. Fourteen years later she did something morally rebelling and married David Bale at age 66. It took her awhile to get married as she stated to People Magazine “In the 1950’s, once you married you became what your husband was, so it seemed like the last choice you’d ever have I’d already been the very small parent of a very big child my mother. I didn’t want to end up taking care of someone else.” Sadly, Bale died 3 years after their matrimony. Steinem is currently 84 years old and is the consulting editor for MS Magazine. She has a twitter account where she posts informal and uplifting posts about women. She also posts about influential women, and liberating women movements.


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In 1972, she co-founded Ms magazine, and remained one of its editors for fifteen years. She continues to serve as a consulting editor for Ms, and was instrumental in the magazine’s move to join and be published by the Feminist Majority Foundation. In 1968, she had helped to found New York magazine, where she was a political columnist and wrote feature articles. As a freelance writer, she was published in Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, and women’s magazines as well as for publications in other countries. She has produced a documentary on child abuse for HBO, a feature film about the death penalty for Lifetime, and been the subject of profiles on Lifetime and Showtime. Steinem helped to found the Women’s Action Alliance, a pioneering national information center that specialized in nonsexist, multiracial children’s education, and the National Women’s Political Caucus, a group (including Bella Abzug and Betty Friedan) that continues to work to advance the numbers of pro-equality women in elected and appointed office at a national and state level. She also co-founded the Women’s Media Center in 2004. Her book Revolution from within: A Book of Self-Esteem written in 1992 received much backlash, because other feminists believed that focusing on personal development took away from social activism. She was president and co-founder of Voters for Choice, a pro-choice political action committee for twenty-five years, then with the Planned Parenthood Action Fund when it merged with VFC for the 2004 elections. She was also co-founder and serves on the board of Choice USA (now URGE), a national organization that supports young pro-choice leadership and works to preserve comprehensive sex education in schools. She is the founding president of the Ms. Foundation for Women, a national multi-racial, multi-issue fund that supports grassroots projects to empower women and girls, and also a founder of its Take Our Daughters to Work Day, a first national day devoted to girls that has now become an institution here and in other countries. She was a member of the Beyond Racism Initiative, a three-year effort on the part of activists and experts from South Africa, Brazil and the United States to compare the racial patterns of those three countries and to learn cross-nationally. She works with the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College on documenting the grassroots origins of the U.S. women’s movement, and on a Center for Organizers in tribute to Wilma Mankiller, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. As links to other countries, she helped found Equality Now, Donor Direct Action and Direct Impact Africa. Steinem used various media platforms such as New York Magazine and MS Magazine to express her feminist perspective. She also wrote books, protested, and lectured to people that were willing to listen her. Now she uses social media platforms such as twitter to stay connected and inform people about women movements and continues to work towards social justice.


Pro-choice, racial equality, domestic violence, and education for women are issues that Steinem dealt with in her prime, but are issues that still plagues society, today. Despite abortion being an open topic when it used to be taboo, it is still up for debate politically and morally, as it was when she began reporting on it. Abortion is legal now and she helped legalize it by publicizing it through magazine articles and protests, however modern society is divided on the Pro choice and Planned Parenthood epidemic. In an interview with she revealed that this is still an issue because “ the knowledge of contraception began to be punished and suppressed in order to produce more children as property, labor, armies… Women’s freedom was restricted in order to make sure of the paternity and ownership of children.” Lerner and Mill would agree to this statement that women are valued on their sexual reproductive capacities and their children are used for labor under paternal dominance. Steinem is an activist for racial equality in America, and other countries such as Brazil, India and she continues to fight for racial justice. On her twitter account she posts multiple content related to the mistreatment of African American women, speeches that discuss racial discrimination and, also, uplifting African American movements such as Afropunk. Brooklyn After Dark. She marched in Civil Rights movements, because African Americans were being mistreated by police officers and racists by being lynched, sprayed with water hoses, and suffering from dog attacks. She also used her platforms to shed light on these unfair conditions of African Americans, and continues to. Domestic violence against women is a topic she has spoken against multiple times. She wrote articles and speeches about it. On her twitter account she promoted the Women’s march which was about the violent, racist, and misogyny comments made by the Current president, Donald J. Trump. During the 1960’s it was unheard of for women to be educated in India. Steinem seeked to change this by protesting against the government to allow them to learn. In contemporary times the rate of educated women has increased significantly, however most continue to follow in the path of being uneducated and married off before the age 18. Through protest and having representation of educated Indian women, other Indian women are beginning to see their potential. Steinum publicizing and giving these issues a platform allowed for others to lead by example in modern times and shows how long these issues have been impacting society and far we have come to try and solve them. 

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