Serena Freewomyn

Happy Birthday Gloria Steinem

Filed By Serena Freewomyn | March 25, 2008 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: feminism, Gloria Steinem, women's movement

Foxy feminist and founder of Ms. Magazine, Gloria Steinem, turns 74 today. hi_steinem.jpg 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.


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Michael Bedwell | March 25, 2008 6:42 PM

Steinem was the first celebrity I ever met long, long ago, and I'll never forget two things.

1. Though I was then rather young, I already knew that I was so much gayer than laughter that I had absolutely no interest in experimenting but DAMN Steinem was hot!

2. It was the first time I ever encountered that intangible we still call "charisma." She was simply quietly chatting with a handful of people when I entered the room in which she was to later more formally speak but there was no mistaking the energy, the "personal power" whe was beaming in every direction without even trying. It was GLORIous!

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | March 25, 2008 8:52 PM

Happy birthday Gloria! It is hard to imagine what America would be like, not just for women, but for all of us, without your amazing work.

I wonder if she is still working for the CIA?

I echo Michael's sentiments exactly. Happy Birthday, Gloria!

One of my favorite Gloria moments was when she and Jane Fonda when on the Colbert show. They tore him apart and he loved it.

I admire her also. But I can't help wondering if she still holds the rather viciously transphobic views -- pretty similar to the Germaine Greer/Janice Raymond/Mary Daly party line -- that she expressed in the late 1970's. Believe it or not, it's an important question, and something people should care about.

Donna L

Wow, 74 and still busy as ever. I hope I'm as together when I get to be her age!

Hi Donna. Can you be more specific? I had never heard of Gloria Steinem being transphobic.

Gee the only famous person I ever met was LBJ.

I have always been a fan of hers, and supported her work to free womyn from the confines of social convention. She is a modern day Susan B., working tirelessly for the cause of equality.

Not to mention that she was hot.

I hate to hear that she shared the early feminist attitudes towards transwomyn. I would hope that she has grown from that viewpoint.

In her 1984 book "Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions," she quotes at length -- approvingly -- from Janice Raymond's "Transsexual Empire" -- all the stuff about transsexuals surgically mutilating their bodies, desperately trying to conform their bodies to an unjust society, reinforcing sex roles, etc.; accusing Renee Richards of turning women's tennis into a "circus," etc., etc. Buying Raymond hook, line, and sinker, and showing zero understanding of trans people or their lives. An understanding that was available even in 1984, to people who were open-minded enough to seek it.

Has she changed her views? I have no idea. Janice Raymond hasn't. Mary Daly hasn't. Germaine Greer hasn't. But, who knows?