“We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.”
Gloria Steinem. American feminist, journalist, social and political activist and leader of, and media spokeswoman for the Women’s Liberation Movement in the late 60’s and 70’s. She co-founded New York Magazine and Ms. Magazine, helped create Take Our Daughters to Work Day and helped found Choice USA (Now known as URGE).
Currently 80 years-old, Steinem’s first big break was when in 1963, she went undercover as a Playboy Bunny at the New York Playboy Club. In the two articles titled as “A Bunny’s Tale” she uncovers the harsh work conditions, false advertising, exploitation and sexual demands of the Bunnies.
From there she spoke out about being pro-abortion, criticized the lack of Wonder Woman’s powers (Wonder Woman eventually got her powers back) and in 1972, she co-founded the feminist-themed magazine Ms. The pilot print run of 300,000 sold out nationwide in three days. It achieved over 26,000 subscriptions and over 20,000 reader letters within weeks. Steinem continued to write for the magazine until it was sold in 1987. This was just her journalism career.
She actively campaigned for the Equal Rights Amendment, as well as with many other laws and social reforms that encouraged equality between men and women. Helping strike down many long-standing sex discrimination laws such as those that gave men superior rights in marriage and unequal job opportunities. She went so far as to even testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1970. She helped find political groups such as the Women’s Action Alliance, the Coalition of Labor Union Women and the Women’s Media Center.
1968 was when she signed the “War Tax Protest” pledge, in protest against the Vietnam War and in 1969, she published the article “After Black Power, Women’s Liberation”. Along with her earlier supporting of abortion rights, these events were what catapulted her to national fame as a leading feminist.
She stated on the fact of being a feminism leader that, “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.”
So what is the connection between Gloria and I? We are both white women living in first world countries. We come from the same class of people and believe in the same ideas. However, we lived (and are living) in a different time. Women in the 60’s and 70’s experienced sexism and discrimination in all aspects in their lives. Job listings in the news would want only men to apply and the most common job for a women was a secretary or waitress. If you didn’t have a job, you were most likely married and being a loving house-wife waiting on her dashing husband to come home from work to present him a feast that you cooked all day for him. Sounds like a great life right? For me, absolutely not. Birth control and abortions were not spoken of and hard to come by safely. We weren’t allowed to acquire a credit card, line of credit, do jury duty or even get an Ivy League Education (Yale and Princeton didn’t accept female students until 1969, Harvard didn’t until 1977).
Now I can pretty much do whatever I want however I do run the risk of receiving death threats, twitter hate, public shaming, bullying, ostracizing and just pure hate. Sounds like fun to me!
I found out about what feminism is and women’s rights are when I watched a documentary on the Women’s Liberation Movement. I never truly realized what women had to do to get where we are today, and we still have a long way to go. I think my first experience of sexism was when I was in grade six. Hot summer day, and I who was 11 years-old decided to wear a tank-top combination of one over another to make the straps thicker than they were. This was also the time when I started wearing a bra. It was nude, so hard to recognize against my skin however stuck out if I didn’t adjust the straps well enough. Anyways, I was told to cover my shoulders because it was inappropriate and I was distracting the boys. So being the good girl who follows the rules, I did. I fought through the heat and continued to cover up but I noticed that three other girls in my class were wearing tank tops as well but they weren’t asked to cover up. So not only was a 11 year-old’s body sexualized by my principle but I also got in bigger trouble because I was more “developed” than most girls.
This started a gradual build-up to where I am today. I could say I’m a feminist because I do believe in the equality of the sexes on social, political and economic grounds but I think that doing Gloria Steinem as my eminent will help me learn even more about feminism and learn more about myself and my values/morals.
“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.”