Who is Gloria Steinem?
You’ve probably heard about this woman – but you might not necessarily remember. A trailblazer of female rights, whose intensive involvement in the feminist movement of the ’70s yielded increased awareness on racial and gender inequality, she has been traveling across the US and other countries as a media spokesperson and a lecturer, addressing issues surrounding woman rights, origins of caste systems, child abuse, sociopolitical conflict resolution, and more. People, meet Gloria Steinem – a pioneering American feminist and the founder of Ms. (the magazine).
For a start, she had a pretty impactful childhood. Gloria’s parents divorced when she was about the age of 11 years, leaving her with a mentally ill mother who she continued to take care of, until after six years or so when she decided to leave for college to study government and politics – an academic stream very unusual for women in the ‘50s. Most of the women of that era ended up getting married and taking care of their families. But Gloria was different.
‘In the 1950s, once you married, you became what your husband was; so it seemed like the last choice you’d ever have.’ – Gloria Steinem to People Magazine
She had already been taking care of a (you may say) grown-up child – her mentally ill mother. She didn’t want to end up taking care of anyone else thereon. So, upon graduation in 1956, she got a chance to spend her fellowship in India. Having worked initially for an independent research firm, she sought to become a location-independent working professional by means of freelance writing. In 1963, Show magazine published an article of hers – A Bunny’s Tale - which was centered essentially on the exploitative nature of work every “Playboy Bunny” is subject to, and the sexual demands they satisfy as part of their daily work routine – an article that remains one of her most sought after articles till date.
Come 1969, her article titled After Black Power, Women’s Liberation got published and earned her the recognition she deserved as a woman leader. The same year, her cover of a speech on abortion was featured in the magazine New York, wherein she addresses a helpless woman’s actual need for abortion and the limitations posed by antagonizing the practice of abortion, socially and politically.
In 1970, her essay titled What it Would Be Like if Women Win was published by the Time magazine. 1972 marked the launch of Ms., a feminist magazine co-founded by Gloria Steinem. In just eight days following the launch of the magazine, over 300,000 copies were sold. In a few weeks’ time, Ms. had over 26,000 subscribers.A piece greatly appreciated by her contemporary feminists, it addressed a utopian possibility – gender equality. A year later, she stood as a woman social activist among the 300 odd women who led the founding of the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC), which keeps a check on the number of women elected and appointed statewide and nationwide.
1972 marked the launch of Ms., a feminist magazine co-founded by Gloria Steinem. In just eight days following the launch of the magazine, over 300,000 copies were sold. In a few weeks’ time, Ms. had got over 26,000 subscribers. Till date, this firebrand woman social activist, Gloria Steinem has her place among the six founding editors, presently as part of the magazine’s advisory board.
In her thirty years of journey from being a freelance writer to becoming a woman leader, and a female sociopolitical activist, Steinem has also written many books, including the bestsellers Moving Beyond Words, Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem, and the world-famous Marilyn: Norma Jean, which was essentially based on the life and times of another icon of the era – Marilyn Monroe.
Do remember to check out her documentary film for HBO Gloria: In Her Own Words. She has also produced a feature film for Lifetime, which is based on capital punishment and life imprisonment, and actively contributed to the founding of the New York magazine in 1968, where she served as a political columnist. She has also been involved in the founding of the Women’s Action Alliance, a nationwide information center that showed particular interest in facilitating education for multiracial students devoid of any issues pertaining to gender bias.
Here’s to a pathbreaking thinker, an activist, a writer, leader, a woman – one that didn’t shirk from treading uncharted waters and made ways for herself – and how!
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