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Gloria Steinem

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Gloria Steinem
G steinem 2011.jpg
Steinem in 2011
Born Gloria Marie Steinem[1]
(1934-03-25) March 25, 1934 (age 83)
Toledo, Ohio, U.S.
Residence New York City, New York, U.S.[2]
Education Smith College (BA)
Occupation Writer and journalist for Ms. and New York magazines[3]
Movement Feminism[3]
Board member of Women's Media Center[4]
Spouse(s) David Bale (m. 2000; his death 2003)
Family Christian Bale (stepson)[5][6]

Gloria Marie Steinem (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 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]

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

Early life[edit]

Steinem was born on March 25, 1934, in Toledo, Ohio,[7] the daughter of Ruth (née Nuneviller) and Leo Steinem. Her mother was a Presbyterian of mostly German (including Prussian), and some Scottish, descent.[11][12] Her father was Jewish, the son of emigrants 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 the trailer from which Leo carried out his trade as a traveling antiques dealer.[16] Before Steinem was born, her mother Ruth, then aged 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 ten 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 as a result of her mother's illness, Steinem did not attribute it to a result of chauvinism on the father's part, and 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 experiences as having been 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.[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[clarification needed].[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[edit]

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]

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]The original item has since been scrubbed from the NY Times archives, as can be verified by searching for it ( and as noted by Nathan Dial, who reposted it on Scribd with the comment: "the fact that it's not on the NYT's page is disturbing."[47]


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.[48]

In 1969, she published an article, "After Black Power, Women's Liberation"[49] 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.[50][51] That same year she published her essay on a utopia of gender equality, "What It Would Be Like If Women Win", in Time magazine.[52]

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.[53] 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.[54]

In 1972, she ran as a delegate for Shirley Chisholm in New York, but lost.[55]

In March 1973, she addressed the first national conference of Stewardesses for Women's Rights, which she continued to support throughout its existence.[56] Stewardesses for Women's Rights folded in the spring of 1976.[56]

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).[57] 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.[57][58]

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.[59]

In 1977, Steinem became an associate of the Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press (WIFP).[60] 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.[61]

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.[62]

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.[63]

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.[64][65][66]

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.[67]

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.[68] 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.[69] Chime For Change was funded by Gucci, focusing on using innovative approaches to raise funds and awareness especially regarding girls and women.[68][70]

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."[71]

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.[72] When Time magazine published an article attributing the saying to Steinem, Steinem wrote a letter saying the phrase had been coined by Dunn.[73]

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.[74]

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.[75][76][77][78]

Steinem is currently an honorary co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America.[79]

Involvement in political campaigns[edit]

Steinem's involvement in presidential campaigns stretches back to her support of Adlai Stevenson in the 1952 presidential campaign.[80]

1968 election[edit]

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."[81] 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[edit]

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.[82] 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 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?"[83] Steinem later recalled that the 1972 Convention was the only time Greer and Steinem ever met.[84]

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."[85]

2004 election[edit]

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."[86] 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.[87]

2008 election[edit]

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.[88]

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.[89]

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".[90] 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."[90] 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.[91] The statement is also factually inaccurate, as women in various parts of the country were given the right to vote long before the Nineteenth Amendment was adopted. Wyoming Territory, for example, gave women the right to vote in 1869, prior to the adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment, giving black men the right to vote.

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."[92]

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."[93]

2016 election[edit]

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.'"[94] Her comments triggered widespread criticism, and Steinem later issued an apology and said her comments had been "misinterpreted".[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[edit]

In May 1975, Redstockings, a radical feminist group, published a report 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 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 Agency" in the 1950's and 60's. While popularly pilloried because of her paymaster, Steinem defended the CIA relationship, saying: “In my experience The Agency was completely different from its image; it was liberal, nonviolent and honorable.”[1]

Personal life[edit]

Steinem was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1986[99] and trigeminal neuralgia in 1994.[100]

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.[101] Steinem and Bale were married for only three years before he died of brain lymphoma on December 30, 2003, at age 62.[102]

Previously, she had had a four-year relationship with the publisher Mortimer Zuckerman.[103]

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.[104]

Feminist positions[edit]

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.[105] 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."[100] Nevertheless, on concrete issues, Steinem has staked several firm positions.

Female genital mutilation and male circumcision[edit]

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[106] The article reported on the "75 million women suffering with the results of genital mutilation."[20]:292[106] 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[106] Steinem's article contains the basic arguments that would later be developed by philosopher Martha Nussbaum.[107]

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."[108]

Feminist theory[edit]

Steinem has frequently voiced her disapproval of the obscurantism and abstractions some claim to be prevalent in feminist academic theorizing.[100][109] 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."[100] 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 aeralised."[109]


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[110] 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[110]

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[110] Steinem has also cited "snuff films" as a serious threat to women.[20]:219[110]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

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.[111]

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 "[t]he 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."[112] 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.[113]

Transgender rights[edit]

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."[114] 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."[114] She also apologized for any pain her words might have caused.[114]

Awards and honors[edit]

In media[edit]

Steinem on the cover of Ms. in 2002

In 1995, Education of a Woman: The Life of Gloria Steinem, by Carolyn Heilbrun, was published.[130]

In 1997, Gloria Steinem: Her Passions, Politics, and Mystique, by Sydney Ladensohn Stern, was published.[131]

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'."

In 2011, Gloria: In Her Own Words, a documentary, first aired.[132]

In 2013, Female Force: Gloria Steinem, a comic book by Melissa Seymour, was published.[133][134][135]

Also in 2013, Steinem was featured in the documentary MAKERS: Women Who Make America about the feminist movement.[136]

In 2014, Who Is Gloria Steinem?, by Sarah Fabiny, was published.[137]

Also in 2014, Steinem appeared in season 1, episode 8, of the television show The Sixties.[138]

Also in 2014, Steinem appeared in season 6, episode 3, of the television show The Good Wife.[139]

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.[140]

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."[141][142]

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.[143]

The Gloria Steinem Papers are held in the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College, under collection number MS 237.[144]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Gloria Steinem Fast Facts". CNN. September 6, 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 – Who Is Gloria?". Archived from the original on 2013-03-14. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Gloria Steinem". Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2004. Retrieved November 9, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Board of Directors". Women's Media Center. Archived from the original on October 31, 2014. Retrieved November 9, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Feminist Dad of the Day: Christian Bale". Women and Hollywood. July 25, 2012. Retrieved November 9, 2014. 
  6. ^ Denes, Melissa (January 16, 2005). "'Feminism? It's hardly begun'". The Guardian. Retrieved December 31, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Gloria Steinem". Retrieved November 8, 2014. 
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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]