Foxy feminist and founder of Ms. Magazine, Gloria Steinem, turns 74 today. She's just as active today as she was in the 70's, and we womyn have so much to thank her for. In my mind, it would be harder to pinpoint a more visible, or more active, figure in the feminist movement today. She's the modern equivalent of Elizabeth Cady Stanton or Susan B. Anthony.
In 1968, Steinem rocked the publishing world with her article "I Was a Playboy Bunny." Gloria had gone "undercover" as a Playboy Bunny to expose Hugh Heffner for what he was. It was NOT a glamorous lifestyle. Steinem's Bunny article is republished in her book Outrageous Acts and Every Day Rebellions, along with other essays and articles she has published over the years. One of my favorite chapters discusses Gloria's relationship with her mother. Growing up in a single-parent household, Gloria witnessed firsthand the injustices womyn face. Her mother had a nervous breakdown and was treated very harshly by her doctors. Because of her mother, Steinem was motivated to do something for womyn.
In all honesty, this is probably a good explanation for why I, too, am a feminist. My mother was always the primary bread-winner in our family. My stepfather didn't have a high school diploma, so he was constantly in and out of jobs. My mom was a nurse, so she always had job security. My mom and stepdad always fought about money and my stepdad's word was law in our household, even though he couldn't bring home the bacon the majority of the time. Our family was Mormon, so I also got a lot of messages that womyn were supposed to stay at home and raise the kids. But my mom was always working. She always told me I could do anything I set my mind to. And although she would never call herself a feminist, my mother is the one who planted the seeds for me to become the womyn that I am today.
So back to Gloria Steinem. Gloria has worked tirelessly for the rights of womyn and children. Because of her efforts, we have access to birth control and other sexual health options (at least for now). Because of her efforts, womyn can commit everyday rebellions, such as telling their bosses that sexist jokes aren't funny, that paid maternity leave is good for business, and that 76 cents to the dollar is not fair. Without her moxy and her vision, where would we as womyn be?
HAPPY 74th BIRTHDAY, GLORIA! It's been a pleasure to meet you in the past and I wish you many happy returns.