By: Erin Harris
Gloria Steinem was born March 25, 1934 in Toledo, Ohio. Her mother, Ruth Nuneviller, was part German. Her father, Leo Steinem, who was a Jewish-American, was a traveling antiques dealer and the son of immigrants from German and Poland. The family split in 1944, when he went to California to find work while Gloria lived with her mother in Toledo. She also had a sister named Susanne. She attended Waite High School in Toledo, graduated from Western High School in Washington, D.C., and attended Smith College. In 1963 she worked as a Playboy Bunny at the New York club so she could research an article she was writing that exposed how women were treated at the club.
Steinem eventually got a political assignment covering George McGovern's presidential campaign and then she received a position in a New York magazine. Her 1962 article in Esquire magazine 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. She became politically active in the feminist movement. Steinem brought out other famous feminists and toured the country with lawyer Florynce Kennedy, and in 1971, cofounded the National Women’s Political Caucus and the Women’s Action Alliance.
In 1972, she helped start the feminist Ms. magazine and wrote for it until it was sold in 1987. She still serves on the advisory board of the same magazine today. Gloria also became Ms. mgazine’s consulting editor in 1991 and that same year, she founded Choice USA, which is a reproductive rights non-profit organization based out of Washington, DC and Oakland, CA. It is youth-led and has a focus on pro-choice movements. During this time, she also faced a number of personal issues such as the diagnosis of breast cancer in 1986 and trigeminal neuralgia in 1994. Almost immediately after these horrible tragedies, she focused back her efforts on becoming an advocate for children who she believed had been abused in their daycare centers.
A funny piece of information about Gloria Steinem is that she was actually interviewed in 1998 in regards to the Bill Clinton impeachment and when they asked her if she thought he should be impeached, she said "Clinton should be censured for lying under oath about Lewinsky in the Paula Jones deposition, perhaps also for stupidity in answering at all."
On September 3, 2000, she married David Bale, who is the father of actor Christian Bale. The wedding was performed at the home of her friend, Wilma Mankiller. Mankiller, whom we have read about in our texts, was the first female Chief of the Cherokee Nation. Bale died three years later of a brain tumor unfortunately, and even that didn’t slow her down.
One of the most noble things she did during her lifetime in my opinion was appear in the 2005 documentary, I Had an Abortion, by Jennifer Baumgardner and Gillian Aldrich. Her part in the film had her describe the abortion she had in London. In my opinion, this was a very noble and important thing that she did for today’s society, and I’m sure it took a lot of courage.
I had never heard of this amazing woman before I began this research, but everyone should have heard of her because there was a song written with some of her quotes in it. David Usher, who is a Canadian singer-songwriter, had a song called “Love Will Save the Day” and it includes sound bytes from her speeches. A couple of them include the song's opening with her quote "It really is a revolution," and the ending breaks for the quote, "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." I listened to this powerful song, and it was really touching. Lastly, in the credits of the movie V for Vendetta, this last speech is also quoted.
Some links to additional information on this amazing person are below:
By: Erin Harris