Gloria Steinem

Gloria Marie Steinem (/ˈstaɪnəm/; born March 25, 1934) is an American feminist, journalist, and social political activist who became nationally recognized as a leader and a spokeswoman for the American feminist movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s.[1][7][3]

Steinem was a columnist for New York magazine, and a co-founder of Ms. magazine.[3] In 1969, Steinem published an article, "After Black Power, Women's Liberation",[8] which brought her to national fame as a feminist leader.[9]

Gloria Steinem (29751323395)
Gloria Steinem speaking with supporters at the Women Together Arizona Summit at Carpenters Local Union in Phoenix, Arizona, September 2016.

In 2005, Steinem, Jane Fonda, and Robin Morgan co-founded the Women's Media Center, an organization that works "to make women visible and powerful in the media".[10]

As of May 2018, Steinem travels internationally as an organizer and lecturer, and is a media spokeswoman on issues of equality.[2]

Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem (29459760190) (cropped)
Steinem in 2016
Gloria Marie Steinem[1]

March 25, 1934 (age 85)
ResidenceNew York City, New York, U.S.[2]
EducationSmith College (BA)
OccupationWriter and journalist for Ms. and New York magazines[3]
Board member ofWomen's Media Center[4]
David Bale
(m. 2000; his death 2003)
FamilyChristian Bale (stepson)[5][6]

Early life

Steinem was born on March 25, 1934, in Toledo, Ohio,[7] the daughter of Ruth (née Nuneviller) and Leo Steinem. Her mother was Presbyterian, mostly of German (including Prussian) and some Scottish descent.[11][12] Her father was Jewish, the son of immigrants from Württemberg, Germany, and Radziejów, Poland.[12][13][14][15] Her paternal grandmother, Pauline Perlmutter Steinem, was chairwoman of the educational committee of the National Woman Suffrage Association, a delegate to the 1908 International Council of Women, and the first woman to be elected to the Toledo Board of Education, as well as a leader in the movement for vocational education.[16] Pauline also rescued many members of her family from the Holocaust.[16]

The Steinems lived and traveled about in a trailer, from which Leo carried out his trade as a roaming antiques dealer.[16] Before Steinem was born, her mother Ruth, then age 34, had a "nervous breakdown," which left her an invalid, trapped in delusional fantasies that occasionally turned violent.[17] She changed "from an energetic, fun-loving, book-loving" woman into "someone who was afraid to be alone, who could not hang on to reality long enough to hold a job, and who could rarely concentrate enough to read a book."[17] Ruth spent long periods in and out of sanatoriums for the mentally ill.[17] Steinem was 10 years old when her parents finally separated in 1944.[17] Her father went to California to find work, while she and her mother continued to live together in Toledo.[17]

While her parents divorced under the stress of her mother's illness, Steinem did not attribute it at all to chauvinism on the father's part — she claims to have "understood and never blamed him for the breakup."[18] Nevertheless, the impact of these events had a formative effect on her personality: while her father, a traveling salesman, had never provided much financial stability to the family, his exit aggravated their situation.[19] Steinem concluded that her mother's inability to hold on to a job was evidence of general hostility towards working women.[19] She also concluded that the general apathy of doctors towards her mother emerged from a similar anti-woman animus.[19] Years later, Steinem described her mother's experience as pivotal to her understanding of social injustices.[20]:129–138 These perspectives convinced Steinem that women lacked social and political equality.[20]

Steinem attended Waite High School in Toledo and Western High School in Washington, D.C., graduating from the latter while living with her older sister Susanne Steinem Patch.[21][22] She then attended Smith College,[23] an institution with which she continues to remain engaged, and from which she graduated as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.[2] In the late 1950s, Steinem spent two years in India as a Chester Bowles Asian Fellow, where she was briefly associated with the Supreme Court of India as a Law Clerk to Mehr Chand Mahajan, then Chief Justice of India.[24] After returning to the U.S., she served as director of the Independent Research Service, an organization funded in secret by a donor that turned out to be the CIA.[25] She worked to send non-Communist American students to the 1959 World Youth Festival.[25] In 1960, she was hired by Warren Publishing as the first employee of Help! magazine.[26]

Journalism career

Esquire magazine features editor Clay Felker gave freelance writer Steinem what she later called her first "serious assignment", regarding contraception; he didn't like her first draft and had her re-write the article.[27] Her resulting 1962 article about the way in which women are forced to choose between a career and marriage preceded Betty Friedan's book The Feminine Mystique by one year.[27][28]

In 1963, while working on an article for Huntington Hartford's Show magazine, Steinem was employed as a Playboy Bunny at the New York Playboy Club.[29] The article, published in 1963 as "A Bunny's Tale", featured a photo of Steinem in Bunny uniform and detailed how women were treated at those clubs.[30] Steinem has maintained that she is proud of the work she did publicizing the exploitative working conditions of the bunnies and especially the sexual demands made of them, which skirted the edge of the law.[31][32] However, for a brief period after the article was published, Steinem was unable to land other assignments; in her words, this was "because I had now become a Bunny – and it didn't matter why."[31][33]

In the interim, she conducted an interview with John Lennon for Cosmopolitan magazine in 1964.[34] In 1965, she wrote for NBC-TV's weekly satirical revue, That Was The Week That Was (TW3), contributing a regular segment entitled "Surrealism in Everyday Life".[35] Steinem eventually landed a job at Felker's newly founded New York magazine in 1968.[27]

In 1969, she covered an abortion speak-out for New York Magazine, which was held in a church basement in Greenwich, New York.[36][37] Steinem had had an abortion herself in London at the age of 22.[38] She felt what she called a "big click" at the speak-out, and later said she didn't "begin my life as an active feminist" until that day.[37] As she recalled, "It [abortion] is supposed to make us a bad person. But I must say, I never felt that. I used to sit and try and figure out how old the child would be, trying to make myself feel guilty. But I never could! I think the person who said: 'Honey, if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament' was right. Speaking for myself, I knew it was the first time I had taken responsibility for my own life. I wasn't going to let things happen to me. I was going to direct my life, and therefore it felt positive. But still, I didn't tell anyone. Because I knew that out there it wasn't [positive]."[38] She also said, "In later years, if I'm remembered at all it will be for inventing a phrase like 'reproductive freedom'  ... as a phrase it includes the freedom to have children or not to. So it makes it possible for us to make a coalition."[39]

Ms. magazine Cover - Spring 1972
The first issue of Ms., released in 1972

In 1972, she co-founded the feminist-themed magazine Ms. with Dorothy Pitman Hughes; it began as a special edition of New York, and Clay Felker funded the first issue.[27] Its 300,000 test copies sold out nationwide in eight days.[40][41] Within weeks, Ms. had received 26,000 subscription orders and over 20,000 reader letters.[41] The magazine was sold to the Feminist Majority Foundation in 2001; Steinem remains on the masthead as one of six founding editors and serves on the advisory board.[41]

Also in 1972, Steinem became the first woman to speak at the National Press Club.[42]

In 1978, Steinem wrote a semi-satirical essay for Cosmopolitan titled "If Men Could Menstruate" in which she imagined a world where men menstruate instead of women. She concludes in the essay that in such a world, menstruation would become a badge of honor with men comparing their relative sufferings, rather than the source of shame that it had been for women.[43]

On March 22, 1998, Steinem published an op-ed in The New York Times ("Feminists and the Clinton Question") in which, without actually challenging accounts by Bill Clinton's accusers, she claimed they did not represent sexual harassment.[44] This was criticized by various writers, as in the Harvard Crimson[45] and in the Times itself. [46]


In 1959, Steinem led a group of activists in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to organize the Independent Service for Information on the Vienna festival, to advocate for American participation in the World Youth Festival, a Soviet-sponsored youth event.

In 1968, Steinem signed the "Writers and Editors War Tax Protest" pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.[47]

In 1969, she published an article, "After Black Power, Women's Liberation"[48] which brought her to national fame as a feminist leader.[9] As such she campaigned for the Equal Rights Amendment, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in its favor in 1970.[49][50] That same year she published her essay on a utopia of gender equality, "What It Would Be Like If Women Win", in Time magazine.[51]

On July 10, 1971, Steinem was one of over three hundred women who founded the National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC), including such notables as Bella Abzug, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, and Myrlie Evers-Williams.[52] As a co-convener of the Caucus, she delivered the speech "Address to the Women of America", stating in part:

This is no simple reform. It really is a revolution. Sex and race because they are easy and visible differences have been the primary ways of organizing human beings into superior and inferior groups and into the cheap labor on which this system still depends. We are talking about a society in which there will be no roles other than those chosen or those earned. We are really talking about humanism.[53]

In 1972, she ran as a delegate for Shirley Chisholm in New York, but lost.[54]

In March 1973, she addressed the first national conference of Stewardesses for Women's Rights, which she continued to support throughout its existence.[55] Stewardesses for Women's Rights folded in the spring of 1976.[55]

Steinem, who grew up reading Wonder Woman comics, was also a key player in the restoration of Wonder Woman's powers and traditional costume, which were restored in issue #204 (January–February 1973).[56] Steinem, offended that the most famous female superhero had been depowered, had placed Wonder Woman (in costume) on the cover of the first issue of Ms. (1972) – Warner Communications, DC Comics' owner, was an investor – which also contained an appreciative essay about the character.[56][57]

In 1976, the first women-only Passover seder was held in Esther M. Broner's New York City apartment and led by Broner, with 13 women attending, including Steinem.[58]

In 1977, Steinem became an associate of the Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press (WIFP).[59] WIFP is an American nonprofit publishing organization. The organization works to increase communication between women and connect the public with forms of women-based media.

In 1984 Steinem was arrested along with a number of members of Congress and civil rights activists for disorderly conduct outside the South African embassy while protesting against the South African apartheid system.[60]

At the outset of the Gulf War in 1991, Steinem, along with prominent feminists Robin Morgan and Kate Millett, publicly opposed an incursion into the Middle East and asserted that ostensible goal of "defending democracy" was a pretense.[61]

During the Clarence Thomas sexual harassment scandal in 1991, Steinem voiced strong support for Anita Hill and suggested that one day Hill herself would sit on the Supreme Court.[62]

In 1992, Steinem co-founded Choice USA, a non-profit organization that mobilizes and provides ongoing support to a younger generation that lobbies for reproductive choice.[63][64][65]

In 1993 Steinem co-produced and narrated an Emmy Award-winning TV documentary for HBO about child abuse, called, "Multiple Personalities: The Search for Deadly Memories."[2] Also in 1993, she and Rosilyn Heller co-produced an original TV movie for Lifetime, "Better Off Dead," which examined the parallel forces that both oppose abortion and support the death penalty.[2]

She contributed the piece "The Media and the Movement: A User's Guide" to the 2003 anthology Sisterhood Is Forever: The Women's Anthology for a New Millennium, edited by Robin Morgan.[66]

On June 1, 2013, Steinem performed on stage at the "Chime For Change: The Sound Of Change Live" Concert at Twickenham Stadium in London, England.[67] Later in 2014, UN Women began its commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, and as part of that campaign Steinem (and others) spoke at the Apollo Theater in New York City.[68] Chime For Change was funded by Gucci, focusing on using innovative approaches to raise funds and awareness especially regarding girls and women.[67][69]

Steinem has stated, "I think the fact that I've become a symbol for the women's movement is somewhat accidental. A woman member of Congress, for example, might be identified as a member of Congress; it doesn't mean she's any less of a feminist but she's identified by her nearest male analog. Well, I don't have a male analog so the press has to identify me with the movement. I suppose I could be referred to as a journalist, but because Ms. is part of a movement and not just a typical magazine, I'm more likely to be identified with the movement. There's no other slot to put me in."[70]

Contrary to popular belief, Steinem did not coin the feminist slogan "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." Although she helped popularize it, the phrase is actually attributable to Irina Dunn.[71] When Time magazine published an article attributing the saying to Steinem, Steinem wrote a letter saying the phrase had been coined by Dunn.[72]

Another phrase sometimes wrongly attributed to Steinem is, "If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament." Steinem herself attributed it to "an old Irish woman taxi driver in Boston," whom she said she and Florynce Kennedy met.[73]

As for 2015, she joined the thirty leading international women peacemakers and became an honorary co-chairwoman of 2015 Women's Walk For Peace In Korea with Mairead Maguire. The group's main goal is to advocate disarmament and seek Korea's reunification. It will be holding international peace symposiums both in Pyongyang and Seoul in which women from both North Korea and South Korea can share experiences and ideas of mobilizing women to stop the Korean crisis. The group's specific hope is to walk across the 2-mile wide Korean Demilitarized Zone that separates North Korea and South Korea which is meant to be a symbolic action taken for peace in the Korean peninsular suffering for 70 years after its division at the end of World War II. It is especially believed that the role of women in this act would help and support the reunification of family members divided by the split prolonged for 70 years.[74][75][76][77]

Steinem is currently an honorary co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America.[78]

Involvement in political campaigns

Steinem's involvement in presidential campaigns stretches back to her support of Adlai Stevenson in the 1952 presidential campaign.[79]

1968 election

A proponent of civil rights and fierce critic of the Vietnam War, Steinem was initially drawn to Senator Eugene McCarthy because of his "admirable record" on those issues, but in meeting him and hearing him speak, she found him "cautious, uninspired, and dry."[20]:87 As the campaign progressed, Steinem became baffled at "personally vicious" attacks that McCarthy leveled against his primary opponent Robert Kennedy, even as "his real opponent, Hubert Humphrey, went free."[20]:88

On a late-night radio show, Steinem garnered attention for declaring, "George McGovern is the real Eugene McCarthy."[80] In 1968, Steinem was chosen to pitch the arguments to McGovern as to why he should enter the presidential race that year; he agreed, and Steinem "consecutively or simultaneously served as pamphlet writer, advance 'man', fund raiser, lobbyist of delegates, errand runner, and press secretary."[20]:95

McGovern lost the nomination at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and Steinem later wrote of her astonishment at Hubert Humphrey's "refusal even to suggest to Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley that he control the rampaging police and the bloodshed in the streets."[20]:96

1972 election

Gloria Steinem at news conference, Women's Action Alliance, January 12, 1972
At the Women's Action Alliance news conference of January 12, 1972

Steinem was reluctant to re-join the McGovern campaign, as although she had brought in McGovern's single largest campaign contributor in 1968, she "still had been treated like a frivolous pariah by much of McGovern's campaign staff." In April 1972, Steinem remarked that he "still doesn't understand the Women's Movement".[20]:114

McGovern ultimately excised the abortion issue from the party's platform, and recent publications show McGovern was deeply conflicted on the issue.[81] Steinem later wrote this description of the events:

The consensus of the meeting of women delegates held by the caucus had been to fight for the minority plank on reproductive freedom; indeed our vote had supported the plank nine to one. So fight we did, with three women delegates speaking eloquently in its favor as a constitutional right. One male Right-to-Life zealot spoke against, and Shirley MacLaine also was an opposition speaker, on the grounds that this was a fundamental right but didn't belong in the platform. We made a good showing. Clearly we would have won if McGovern's forces had left their delegates uninstructed and thus able to vote their consciences.[20]:100–110

Gloria Steinem 1977 ©Lynn Gilbert
Gloria Steinem in 1977, photographed by Lynn Gilbert

However, Germaine Greer flatly contradicted Steinem's account, reporting, "Jacqui Ceballos called from the crowd to demand abortion rights on the Democratic platform, but Bella [Abzug] and Gloria stared glassily out into the room," thus killing the abortion rights platform," and asking "Why had Bella and Gloria not helped Jacqui to nail him on abortion? What reticence, what loserism had afflicted them?"[82] Steinem later recalled that the 1972 Convention was the only time Greer and Steinem ever met.[83]

The cover of Harper's that month read, "Womanlike, they did not want to get tough with their man, and so, womanlike, they got screwed."[84]

2004 election

In the run-up to the 2004 election, Steinem voiced fierce criticism of the Bush administration, asserting, "There has never been an administration that has been more hostile to women's equality, to reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right, and has acted on that hostility," adding, "If he is elected in 2004, abortion will be criminalized in this country."[85] At a Planned Parenthood event in Boston, Steinem declared Bush "a danger to health and safety," citing his antagonism to the Clean Water Act, reproductive freedom, sex education, and AIDS relief.[86]

2008 election

Gloria Steinem 2008
Steinem at Brighton High School (Brighton, Colorado), in November 2008

Steinem was an active participant in the 2008 presidential campaign, and praised both the Democratic front-runners, commenting,

Both Senators Clinton and Obama are civil rights advocates, feminists, environmentalists, and critics of the war in Iraq  ... Both have resisted pandering to the right, something that sets them apart from any Republican candidate, including John McCain. Both have Washington and foreign policy experience; George W. Bush did not when he first ran for president.[87]

Nevertheless, Steinem endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton, citing her broader experience, and saying that the nation was in such bad shape it might require two terms of Clinton and two of Obama to fix it.[88]

She also made headlines for a New York Times op-ed in which she cited gender and not race as "probably the most restricting force in American life".[89] She elaborated, "Black men were given the vote a half-century before women of any race were allowed to mark a ballot, and generally have ascended to positions of power, from the military to the boardroom, before any women."[89] This was attacked, however, from critics saying that white women were given the vote unabridged in 1920, whereas many blacks, female or male, could not vote until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and some were lynched for trying, and that many white women advanced in the business and political worlds before black women and men.[90]

Steinem again drew attention for, according to the New York Observer, seeming "to denigrate the importance of John McCain's time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam"; Steinem's broader argument "was that the media and the political world are too admiring of militarism in all its guises."[91]

Following McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, Steinem penned an op-ed in which she labeled Palin an "unqualified woman" who "opposes everything most other women want and need," described her nomination speech as "divisive and deceptive", called for a more inclusive Republican Party, and concluded that Palin resembled "Phyllis Schlafly, only younger."[92]

2016 election

Gloria Steinem by Gage Skidmore
Steinem at an event campaigning for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in September 2016.

In an HBO interview with Bill Maher, Steinem, when asked to explain the broad support for Bernie Sanders among young Democratic women, responded, "When you're young, you're thinking, 'Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie.'"[93] Her comments triggered widespread criticism, and Steinem later issued an apology and said her comments had been "misinterpreted".[94]

Steinem endorsed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the run-up for the 2016 U.S. presidential election.[95] Steinem was an honorary co-chair of and speaker at the Women's March on Washington on January 21, 2017, the day after the inauguration of Donald Trump as President.

CIA ties

In May 1975, Redstockings, a radical feminist group, published a report that Steinem and others put together on the Vienna Youth Festival and its attendees for the Independent Research Service.[96][97] Though she acknowledged having worked for the CIA-financed foundation in the late 1950s and early 1960s in interviews given to The New York Times and The Washington Post in 1967 in the wake of the Ramparts magazine CIA exposures (nearly two years before Steinem attended her first Redstockings or feminist meeting), Steinem in 1975 denied any continuing involvement.[98]

In her book My Life on the Road, Steinem spoke openly about the relationship she had with the CIA in the 1950s and 1960s and defended the CIA relationship, saying: "In my experience [the CIA] was completely different from its image; it was liberal, nonviolent and honorable."[99]

Personal life

Steinem was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1986[100] and trigeminal neuralgia in 1994.[101]

On September 3, 2000, at age 66, Steinem married David Bale, father of actor Christian Bale.[23] The wedding was performed at the home of her friend Wilma Mankiller, the first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.[102] Steinem and Bale were married for only three years before he died of brain lymphoma on December 30, 2003, at age 62.[103]

Previously, she had had a four-year relationship with the publisher Mortimer Zuckerman.[104]

Commenting on aging, Steinem says that as she approached 60 she felt like she entered a new phase in life that was free of the "demands of gender" that she faced from adolescence onward.[105]

Political positions

Ms. magazine Cover - Fall 2009(1)
Gloria Steinem (right) and Alice Walker celebrate Steinem's 75th birthday in the Fall 2009 issue of Ms.

Although most frequently considered a liberal feminist, Steinem has repeatedly characterized herself as a radical feminist.[106] More importantly, she has repudiated categorization within feminism as "nonconstructive to specific problems," saying: "I've turned up in every category. So it makes it harder for me to take the divisions with great seriousness."[101] Nevertheless, on concrete issues, Steinem has staked several firm positions.

Female genital mutilation and male circumcision

In 1979, Steinem wrote the article on female genital mutilation that brought it into the American public's consciousness; the article, "The International Crime of Female Genital Mutilation," was published in the March 1979 issue of Ms..[20]:292[107] The article reported on the "75 million women suffering with the results of genital mutilation."[20]:292[107] According to Steinem, "The real reasons for genital mutilation can only be understood in the context of the patriarchy: men must control women's bodies as the means of production, and thus repress the independent power of women's sexuality."[20]:292[107] Steinem's article contains the basic arguments that would later be developed by philosopher Martha Nussbaum.[108]

On male circumcision, she commented, "These patriarchal controls limit men's sexuality too  ... That's why men are asked symbolically to submit the sexual part of themselves and their sons to patriarchal authority, which seems to be the origin of male circumcision, a practice that, even as advocates admit, is medically unnecessary 90% of the time. Speaking for myself, I stand with many brothers in eliminating that practice too."[109]

Feminist theory

Steinem has frequently voiced her disapproval of the obscurantism and abstractions some claim to be prevalent in feminist academic theorizing.[101][110] She said, "Nobody cares about feminist academic writing. That's careerism. These poor women in academia have to talk this silly language that nobody can understand in order to be accepted  ... But I recognize the fact that we have this ridiculous system of tenure, that the whole thrust of academia is one that values education, in my opinion, in inverse ratio to its usefulness—and what you write in inverse relationship to its understandability."[101] Steinem later singled out deconstructionists like Judith Butler for criticism, saying, "I always wanted to put a sign up on the road to Yale saying, 'Beware: Deconstruction Ahead'. Academics are forced to write in language no one can understand so that they get tenure. They have to say 'discourse', not 'talk'. Knowledge that is not accessible is not helpful. It becomes aerialised—and I think it's important that women's experiences be given a narrative."[110]


Steinem has criticized pornography, which she distinguishes from erotica, writing: "Erotica is as different from pornography as love is from rape, as dignity is from humiliation, as partnership is from slavery, as pleasure is from pain."[20]:219[111] Steinem's argument hinges on the distinction between reciprocity versus domination, as she writes, "Blatant or subtle, pornography involves no equal power or mutuality. In fact, much of the tension and drama comes from the clear idea that one person is dominating the other."[20]:219[111]

On the issue of same-sex pornography, Steinem asserts, "Whatever the gender of the participants, all pornography including male-male gay pornography is an imitation of the male-female, conqueror-victim paradigm, and almost all of it actually portrays or implies enslaved women and master."[20]:219[111] Steinem has also cited "snuff films" as a serious threat to women.[20]:219[111]

Same-sex marriage

In an essay published in Time magazine on August 31, 1970, "What Would It Be Like If Women Win," Steinem wrote about same-sex marriage in the context of the "Utopian" future she envisioned, writing:

What will exist is a variety of alternative life-styles. Since the population explosion dictates that childbearing be kept to a minimum, parents-and-children will be only one of many "families": couples, age groups, working groups, mixed communes, blood-related clans, class groups, creative groups. Single women will have the right to stay single without ridicule, without the attitudes now betrayed by "spinster" and "bachelor." Lesbians or homosexuals will no longer be denied legally binding marriages, complete with mutual-support agreements and inheritance rights. Paradoxically, the number of homosexuals may get smaller. With fewer over-possessive mothers and fewer fathers who hold up an impossibly cruel or perfectionist idea of manhood, boys will be less likely to be denied or reject their identity as males.[112]

Although Steinem did not mention or advocate same-sex marriage in any published works or interviews for more than three decades, she again expressed support for same-sex marriage in the early 2000s, stating in 2004 that "[the] idea that sexuality is only okay if it ends in reproduction oppresses women—whose health depends on separating sexuality from reproduction—as well as gay men and lesbians."[113] Steinem is also a signatory of the 2008 manifesto, "Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: A New Strategic Vision For All Our Families and Relationships", which advocates extending legal rights and privileges to a wide range of relationships, households, and families.[114]

Transgender rights

In 1977, Steinem expressed disapproval that the heavily publicized sex reassignment surgery of tennis player Renée Richards had been characterized as "a frightening instance of what feminism could lead to" or as "living proof that feminism isn't necessary."[20]:206–210 Steinem wrote, "At a minimum, it was a diversion from the widespread problems of sexual inequality."[20]:206–210 She also wrote that, while she supported the right of individuals to identify as they choose, she claimed that, in many cases, transsexuals "surgically mutilate their own bodies" in order to conform to a gender role that is inexorably tied to physical body parts.[20]:206–210 She concluded that "feminists are right to feel uncomfortable about the need for and uses of transsexualism."[20]:206–210 The article concluded with what became one of Steinem's most famous quotes: "If the shoe doesn't fit, must we change the foot?"[20]:206–210 Although clearly meant in the context of transsexuality, the quote is frequently mistaken as a general statement about feminism.[20]:206–210

On October 2, 2013, Steinem clarified her remarks on transgender people in an op-ed for The Advocate, writing that critics failed to consider that her 1977 essay was "written in the context of global protests against routine surgical assaults, called female genital mutilation by some survivors."[115] Steinem later in the piece expressed unequivocal support for transgender people, saying that transgender people "including those who have transitioned, are living out real, authentic lives. Those lives should be celebrated, not questioned."[115] She also apologized for any pain her words might have caused.[115]

Awards and honors

In media

Ms. magazine Cover - Spring 2002
Steinem on the cover of Ms. in 2002

In 1995, Education of a Woman: The Life of Gloria Steinem, by Carolyn Heilbrun, was published.[132]

In 1997, Gloria Steinem: Her Passions, Politics, and Mystique, by Sydney Ladensohn Stern, was published.[133]

In the musical Legally Blonde, which premiered in 2007, Steinem is mentioned in the scene where Elle Woods wears a flashy Bunny costume to a party, and must pretend to be dressed as Gloria Steinem "researching her feminist manifesto 'I Was A Playboy Bunny'." (The actual name of the piece by Steinem being referred to here is "A Bunny's Tale".)

In 2011, Gloria: In Her Own Words, a documentary, first aired.[134]

In 2013, Female Force: Gloria Steinem, a comic book by Melissa Seymour, was published.[135][136][137]

Also in 2013, Steinem was featured in the documentary MAKERS: Women Who Make America about the feminist movement.[138]

In 2014, Who Is Gloria Steinem?, by Sarah Fabiny, was published.[139]

Also in 2014, Steinem appeared in season 1, episode 8, of the television show The Sixties.[140]

Also in 2014, Steinem appeared in season 6, episode 3, of the television show The Good Wife.[141]

In 2016, Steinem was featured in the catalog of clothing retailer Lands' End. After an outcry from anti-abortion customers, the company removed Steinem from their website, stating on their Facebook page: "It was never our intention to raise a divisive political or religious issue, so when some of our customers saw the recent promotion that way, we heard them. We sincerely apologize for any offense." The company then faced further criticism online, this time both from customers who were still unhappy that Steinem had been featured in the first place, and customers who were unhappy that Steinem had been removed.[142]

In Jennifer Lopez's 2016 music video for her song "Ain't Your Mama", Steinem can be heard saying part of her "Address to the Women of America" speech, specifically, "This is no simple reform. It really is a revolution."[143][144]

Also in 2016, the television series Woman premiered, featuring Steinem as producer and host; it is a documentary series concerning sexist injustice and violence worldwide.[145]

The Gloria Steinem Papers are held in the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College, under collection number MS 237.[146]

The play Gloria: A Life, about Steinem's life, opened October of 2018 at the Daryl Roth Theatre, directed by Diane Paulus.[147]


  • The Thousand Indias (1957)
  • The Beach Book (1963), New York: Viking Press. OCLC 1393887
  • Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions (1983), New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston. ISBN 978-0-03-063236-5
  • Marilyn: Norma Jean (1986), with George Barris, New York: Holt. ISBN 978-0-8050-0060-3
  • Revolution from Within (1992), Boston: Little, Brown. ISBN 978-0-316-81240-5
  • Moving beyond Words (1993), New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-64972-2
  • Doing Sixty & Seventy (2006), San Francisco: Elders Academy Press. ISBN 978-0-9758744-2-4
  • My Life on the Road (2015), New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-679-45620-9

See also


  1. ^ a b "Gloria Steinem Fast Facts". CNN. September 6, 2014. Archived from the original on November 9, 2014. Retrieved November 9, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w "The Official Website of Author and Activist Gloria Steinem – About". Archived from the original on March 27, 2018. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
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Further reading

  • Education of A Woman: The Life of Gloria Steinem by Carolyn Heilbrun (Ballantine Books, United States, 1995) ISBN 978-0-345-40621-7
  • Gloria Steinem: Her Passions, Politics, and Mystique by Sydney Ladensohn Stern (Birch Lane Press, 1997) ISBN 978-1-55972-409-8

External links

Bella Abzug

Bella Savitzky Abzug (July 24, 1920 – March 31, 1998), nicknamed "Battling Bella", was an American lawyer, U.S. Representative, social activist and a leader of the Women's Movement. In 1971, Abzug joined other leading feminists such as Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, and Betty Friedan to found the National Women's Political Caucus.In 1970, Abzug's first campaign slogan was, "This woman's place is in the House—the House of Representatives." She was later appointed to co-chair the National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year created by President Gerald Ford's executive order, presided over the 1977 National Women's Conference, and led President Jimmy Carter's National Advisory Commission for Women.

Big Apple Oriental Tours

Big Apple Oriental Tours is a travel agency based in New York City that is at the center of a campaign against sex tourism operators in the United States.

The company was founded in 1993 and offers all-inclusive trips to Thailand, the Philippines and Cambodia "for the single male.” Their advertising brochures highlight the erotic atmosphere and easy availability of women in these regions. Tour guides would meet the men upon arrival, explain everything, and transport them to the local bars and brothels.

Since 1996, the New York based human rights and feminist group Equality Now has lobbied the local District Attorney to take action against the company, complaining about promotion of prostitution and possible exploitation of minors. The District Attorney declined to prosecute in 2000, stating that the alleged acts did not occur in New York and were thus beyond the reach of state law. Supported by Gloria Steinem and Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Equality Now then contacted State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in 2002.

In response to lobbying by these groups, the first legal action in the U.S. against a business of this type was initiated: Spitzer filed a civil suit against Big Apple Oriental Tours and obtained a restraining order in July 2003, in effect preventing the company from advertising.

Spitzer then made two unsuccessful attempts to charge owners Norman Barabash and Douglas Allen with promoting prostitution. (New York state penal code 230.25(1) defines promotion of prostitution, in part, as running a business that involves prostitution activity by two or more prostitutes.) The Attorney General's office obtained the first indictment of Barabash and Allen in February 2004. The case was dismissed in August 2004, because the grand jury had been presented with hearsay evidence and because the judge did not find the law applicable. The dismissal was upheld on appeal based on the hearsay argument. The case was returned to the grand jury and Barabash and Allen were indicted for the same crime again in October 2005. These charges were dismissed in January, 2006. The court held that according to the evidence, "What the tour customer did when he arrived at the location is not part of the Big Apple Oriental Tours enterprise."

David Bale

David Charles Howard Bale (2 September 1941 – 30 December 2003) was an English entrepreneur and an environmentalist animal rights activist. He was the father of actor Christian Bale and the husband of Gloria Steinem.

Dorothy Pitman Hughes

Dorothy Pitman Hughes (born 1938) is a feminist, child-welfare advocate, African-American activist, public speaker, author, pioneering African-American small business owner, and mother of three daughters. She was a co-founder of Ms. Magazine in 1972. She organized the first shelter for battered women in New York City and co-founded the New York City Agency for Child Development (now the New York City Administration for Children's Services). Hughes also co-founded with Gloria Steinem and others the Women’s Action Alliance in 1971. The two women toured together speaking about gender, class and race throughout the 1970s.Hughes owned and operated three early child-care centers helping establish the modern convention in the 1960s. She also owned an office supply business in Harlem from 1997 to 2007 and wrote about her experiences in Wake Up and Smell the Dollars! (2011) and I'm Just Saying... It Looks Like Ethnic Cleansing (The Gentrification of Harlem) (2012), advocating small business ownership to other African Americans as a form of empowerment, as well as advising how to avoid potential pitfalls specific to African Americans.

The National Portrait Gallery selected for its collection a photograph of Hughes and Steinem sharing a large skirt, each with a raised fist salute to demonstrate feminist solidarity. The photograph was shot by photographer Dan Wynn for Esquire Magazine in 1971. Ms. Pitman Hughes commissioned photographer Dan Bagan to create an homage portrait of the two friends together again in a similar pose for Ms. Steinem's 80th birthday.

Oprah Winfrey honored Hughes as one of America’s "Great Moms".Hughes is the mother of Angela and aunt of actress Gabourey Sidibe.Hughes has focused her activism in the Northside community of Jacksonville, Florida, growing food within the neighborhoods to combat poverty. She owns the Gateway Bookstore in Jacksonville.

Equality feminism

Equality feminism is a subset of the overall feminism movement that focuses on the basic similarities between men and women, and whose ultimate goal is the equality of the sexes in all domains. This includes economic and political equality, equal access within the workplace, freedom from oppressive gender stereotyping, and an androgynous worldview.Feminist theory seeks to promote the legal status of women as equal and undifferentiated from that of men. While equality feminists largely agree that men and women have basic biological differences in anatomy and frame, they argue that on a psychological level, the use of ration or reason is androgynous. For equality feminists, men and women are equal in terms of their ability to reason, achieve goals, and prosper in both the work and home front.Equality feminism was the dominant version of feminism following Mary Wollstonecraft's "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman" (1792). Wollstonecraft made the case that women's equality to men manifests itself in education and worker's rights, and further produced a proverbial roadmap in order for future women to follow in terms of activism and feminist theorizing. Since then, active equality feminist include Simone de Beauvoir, the Seneca Falls Convention Leaders, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Coffin Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Betty Friedan, and Gloria Steinem.

While equality feminism was the dominant perspective of feminism during the 19th and 20th century, the 1980s and 1990s brought about a new focus in popular feminism on difference feminism, or the essential differences between men and women. In opposition to equality feminism, this view advocates for the celebration of the "feminine" by focusing on traditionally viewed female traits, such as empathy, nurturing, and care. While equality feminists view human nature as essentially androgynous, difference feminists claim that this viewpoint aligns the "good" with male-dominated stereotypes, thus sticking within the patriarchal framework of society.

Grażyna Wolszczak

Grażyna Wolszczak (born December 7, 1958 in Gdańsk, Poland) is a Polish actress.In 2016, she co-signed a letter to Ban Ki-Moon calling for a more humane drug policy, along with people like Ben Cohen, Johann Hari, Bernie Sanders and Gloria Steinem.

Jewish Women's Archive

The Jewish Women's Archive (JWA) is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to document "Jewish women's stories, elevate their voices, and inspire them to be agents of change."JWA was founded by Gail Twersky Reimer in 1995 in Brookline, Massachusetts with the goal of using the Internet to increase awareness of and provide access to the stories of American Jewish women. JWA makes a growing collection of information, exhibits, and resources available via its website. Its activities include the conception, production and dissemination of:

Community-based oral history projects

Online exhibitions

Original academic research

Educational materials including curricula, a poster series and an oral history guide

Training Institutes for educators working in formal and informal settings

Documentary film Starting in 2010, JWA also began holding an Annual Luncheon in New York City at which it honors three women for their activism and achievements. In 2010 the focus was on the Triangle Fire (2010 was the centenary of that tragedy). Honorees included Ruth J. Abram (co-founder of the Tenement Museum), Kate Frucher (attorney and entrepreneur), and journalist Lynn Sherr. In 2011 the luncheon was titled "Making Trouble / Making History." Gloria Steinem presented the awards, which were given to Elizabeth A. Sackler (The Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum), Rebecca Traister (author, Big Girls Don't Cry, journalist), and Letty Cottin Pogrebin (author, "Deborah, Golda, and Me," etc., journalist, founding editor, "Ms magazine").

Marianne Schnall

Marianne Schnall is an American writer, interviewer, and feminist. Her interviews with Madeleine Albright, Dr. Jane Goodall, Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, Eve Ensler and others have been published by several magazines and websites. In 1995 she founded the not-for-profit website She is the author of Daring to Be Ourselves based on her interviews with a variety of well-known women. She and Amy Richards contributed the piece "Cyberfeminism: Networking the Net" to the 2003 anthology Sisterhood Is Forever: The Women's Anthology for a New Millennium, edited by Robin Morgan. Marianne’s latest book is "What Will It Take to Make A Woman President?: Conversations About Women, Leadership and Power," featuring interviews with politicians, public officials, thought leaders, writers, artists, and activists in an attempt to discover the obstacles that have held women back and what needs to change in order to elect a woman into the White House. With insights and personal anecdotes from Sheryl Sandberg, Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, Nancy Pelosi, Nicholas Kristof, Melissa Etheridge, Olympia Snowe, and many more, "What Will It Take to Make A Woman President?" addresses timely, provocative issues involving women, politics, and power.

Ms. (magazine)

Ms. is an American liberal feminist magazine co-founded by second-wave feminists and sociopolitical activists Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes. Its founding editors were Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Mary Thom, Patricia Carbine, Joanne Edgar, Nina Finkelstein, and Mary Peacock. Ms. first appeared in 1971 as an insert in New York magazine. The first stand-alone issue appeared in January 1972, with funding from New York editor Clay Felker. From July 1972 until 1987, it appeared on a monthly basis. It now publishes quarterly.

During its heyday in the 1970s, it enjoyed great popularity but was not always able to reconcile its ideological concerns with commercial considerations. Since 2001, the magazine has been published by the Feminist Majority Foundation, based in Los Angeles and Arlington, Virginia.

Oneworld Publications

Oneworld Publications is a British independent publishing firm founded in 1986 by Novin Doostdar and Juliet Mabey originally to publish accessible non-fiction by experts and academics for the general market. Based in London, it later added a literary fiction list (in 2009) and both a children's list (Rock the Boat, 2015) and an upmarket crime list (Point Blank, 2016), and now publishes across a wide range of subjects, including history, politics, current affairs, popular science, religion, philosophy, and psychology, as well as literary fiction, crime fiction and suspense, and children's titles. A large proportion of Oneworld fiction across all its lists is translated.

Among the writers on the Oneworld list are Marlon James, Jean Guerrero, Paul Beatty, Gloria Steinem, A. C. Grayling, Iain Sinclair, Stanley Johnson, Jenni Murray, Jason Segel, Antonia Fraser, Richard Adams, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Sean M. Carroll, Samanta Schweblin, Barnaby Phillips, Martin Bell, David McRaney, Jared Diamond, Ivor Crewe, Anthony King, Ilan Pappe, Mary Roach, Adam Frank, Peter Cave, Jean Sasson, William Poundstone, John Hick, Hans Küng, Helen Fisher, Atticus Lish, Peter Matthiessen, Amit Chaudhuri, Kamel Daoud, Caryl Phillips, Jane Urquhart, Sun-mi Hwang, Margaret Mazzantini, Yvvette Edwards, Joseph Boyden, Iman Verjee, Deborah Kay Davies, Peter Fiennes, Miranda Kaufmann, Martin Bell and Anthony Warner.

Pauline Perlmutter Steinem

Pauline Perlmutter Steinem (August 4, 1864 — January 5, 1940) was an American suffragist born in Poland, and the first woman to be elected to the Toledo Board of Education. She rescued many members of her family from the Holocaust. She was also the grandmother of feminist Gloria Steinem.


Supersisters was a set of 72 trading cards produced and distributed in the United States in 1979 by Supersisters, Inc. They featured famous women from politics, media and entertainment, culture, sports, and other areas of achievement. The cards were designed in response to the trading cards popular among children in the US at the time which mostly featured men.The cards were created by Lois Rich of Irvington, New York, and her sister Barbara Egerman, of Ridgefield, Connecticut, a teacher, librarian, and founder of the Ohio chapter of the National Organization for Women. They conceived of the cards in 1978, after Rich's young daughter asked her why there were no women on trading cards. Rich also discovered that students at a local elementary school could not name five famous women. Rich and Egerman received a small grant from the New York State Education Department and wrote to nearly 500 prominent American women in various fields. They purposely did not contact a number of notable women, including Anita Bryant, Angela Davis, Phyllis Schlafly, and the cast of Charlie's Angels. Jane Fonda, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, and Ella T. Grasso were among those who did not respond or declined to participate. Of those who did respond, they included the first 72 in the trading card set, including Jane Pauley, Margaret Mead, and Gloria Steinem. By 1981, they reported that they had sold 15,000 trading card sets, selling many to schools and colleges.Reaction to the cards was largely positive, though some later critics called the cards "misguided" and "trivial".

Sets of the trading cards are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the University of Iowa library.

Susanne Steinem Patch

Susanne Steinem Patch (February 19, 1925 – November 2, 2007) was an American gem expert and lawyer, on staff at the Federal Trade Commission.

The Matrix Awards

The Matrix Awards is an annual awards ceremony held by the Association for Women in Communications. It started in 1970 to honor exceptional women in the fields of arts, advertising, entertainment, film, television, theater, books, broadcasting, magazines, newspapers, public relations and new media.

Past winners are Alice Walker, Eve Ensler, Katie Couric, Judy Corman, Anna Deavere Smith, Meryl Streep, Nora Ephron, Arianna Huffington, Toni Morrison, Barbara Walters, Rosie O'Donnell, Anna Quindlen, Elizabeth Winship, Meredith Vieira, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ellen DeGeneres, Christiane Amanpour, Amy Tan, Gloria Steinem, Thalía and Edie Falco.

The personal is political

The personal is political, also termed The private is political, is a political argument used as a rallying slogan of student movement and second-wave feminism from the late 1960s. It underscored the connections between personal experience and larger social and political structures. In the context of the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s, it was a challenge to the nuclear family and family values. The phrase has been repeatedly described as a defining characterization of second-wave feminism, radical feminism, women's studies, or feminism in general.The phrase was popularized by the publication of a 1969 essay by feminist Carol Hanisch under the title "The Personal is Political" in 1970, but she disavows authorship of the phrase. According to Kerry Burch, Shulamith Firestone, Robin Morgan, and other feminists given credit for originating the phrase have also declined authorship. "Instead," Burch writes, "they cite millions of women in public and private conversations as the phrase's collective authors." Gloria Steinem has likened claiming authorship of the phrase to claiming authorship of "World War II."The phrase has heavily figured in Black Feminism, such as "A Black Feminist Statement" by the Combahee River Collective, Audre Lorde's essay "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House", and the anthology This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, edited by Gloria E. Anzaldúa and Cherríe Moraga. More broadly, as Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw observes: "This process of recognizing as social and systemic what was formerly perceived as isolated and individual has also characterized the identity politics of African Americans, other people of color, and gays and lesbians, among others."

Woman with Gloria Steinem

Woman with Gloria Steinem is a Viceland documentary TV series featuring Gloria Steinem. The series focused on stories relating to the status of women around the world.In 2016 the series was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series, an award ultimately won by Making a Murderer.

Women's Media Center

Women's Media Center (WMC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit women's organization in the United States founded in 2005 by writers and activists Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem. Led by President Julie Burton, WMC's work includes advocacy campaigns, giving out awards, media and leadership training, and the creation of original content.

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