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Who is Gloria Steinem?

By Venus D.
Updated May 23, 2024
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A feminist, political activist, and writer, Gloria Steinem is a well-known public figure. Born on 25 March 1934, she grew up in Toledo, Ohio. Despite a difficult childhood, Gloria Steinem entered Smith College on scholarship, where her political activism began. Upon graduation, she spent two years studying in India, then returned to the United States to become a journalist.

Difficulty finding a position, while a plethora of journalist jobs were available to men, fueled Gloria Steinem’s ideas of feminism. One of her most well-known works is “A Bunny’s Tale: “Show’s” First Expose for Intelligent People,” in which she documented the exploitation of Playboy bunnies, poor women who worked in a rich men’s lavish club. Steinem's writings on feminism were complemented by her work in the political arena. In 1971, Gloria Steinem helped to start the National Women’s Caucus and Women’s Action Alliance, organizations that better enable women’s voices to be heard. In 1972, as she covered the George McGovern presidential campaign, she began the feminist publication Ms. magazine, for which she remains an editor to this day.

Gloria Steinem’s work has special significance in that she defined the feminism movement encapsulated within protests against the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement. She was also not afraid to challenge the status quo. During the 1972 Democratic Convention, Steinem drew attention to women’s issues, especially to that of abortion. She also questioned the seating of the delegates, the majority of whom were white males. The goal of Steinem's work was to achieve true equality between men and women, which required the elimination of discrimination against women in the workforce and their sexual exploitation.

Gloria Steinem continues to work for this goal today, although the focus of her work has changed. In the past, Steinem concentrated on bringing women’s issues to light, along with any indications of inequality. She encouraged women to pursue careers and political activism in the same manner as men do, and she simultaneously emphasized the basic premise of feminism: a woman’s right to choose how she lives.

Presently, Steinem's work has shifted to concentrate on how men can change in order to eliminate the social inequalities that women continue to face. Why can't men stay home and take care of the children? With the speed of globalization, Steinem is also addressing international feminism. Gloria Steinem believes that American feminism should not dictate the feminist movement around world.

Over 40 years of activism have only made Gloria Steinem more optimistic about the changes that can be achieved. In a interview with Ms. magazine, she commented: “Changes depend on what you and I do everyday.” Gloria Steinem is currently working on a book detailing the roots of American feminism.

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Discussion Comments

By anon958267 — On Jun 25, 2014

You forgot the part after Gloria's return from India, when she was hired to run Cold War psy-ops in Vienna and Helsinki.

She recruited Alice Walker and Zbignew Brzezinski for her CIA front and even had a congratulatory meeting with Robert Kennedy, who thanked her for all her CIA accomplishments.

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