Gloria M. Steinem was born on 25th march, 1934. She is a powerful American journalist, socio-political activist and feminist who had been recognized nationally as a leader for women and a spokeswoman for the media, for the liberation of women’s movement from 1960’s upto late 1970’s. Besides being an activist and a spokeswoman, Gloria was also a political figure and a prominent writer (Cooke, 2010). Numerous projects and organizations were found by her and she had been honored in that respect with numerous awards. She was one of the founders of Ms.Magazine and a writer for New York paper.
Steinem’s activism and political awakening
Steinem often campaigned for amendments of equal rights together with other reforms and laws geared towards gender equality that would assist in bringing down numerous laws that discriminated against gender (Robert, 1997). For example, those laws that empowered men in marriage and denying women similar economic opportunities. Among others, Steinem co-founded quite a number of groups including; Women’s Action Alliance (WAA) which Steinem chaired the board during the 1970’s, Women Media Center (WMC), Ms. Foundation for Women (MFW), Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), Choice USA (Gloria, 1969).
In 1968 she vowed not to continue paying taxes and this was in protest against the war of Vietnam which also she criticized strongly.
In the group “Women’s Action Alliance”, Steinem was responsible for various roles in stimulating and assisting women with the major aim of eliminating socio-economic discrimination on women. She was the chairperson of the board for seven years from 1971.
Steinem was also proactive in fighting for civil rights especially for the Hispanics and African Americans. She worked hand in hand with Cesar Chavez and Scott king who were leaders for civil rights. She publicly declared her opposition to the war of Vietnam while at the same time favoring the rights of the gay people.
With time Steinem became a strong supporter for the rights of animals besides being internationally involved in issues of women such as trafficking of human beings and female genital mutilation (Feldman, 2007).
Later in her life, Gloria Steinem faced quite a number of challenges. First of all in the year 1986 she was diagnosed with the cancer of the breast and later on in the year 1994 she got trigeminal neuralgia.This was quite a setback for her.
Choice USA was formed in 1992 by Steinem. This was a nonprofit making organization that was geared towards supporting and mobilizing the youth to making meaningful choices in life (Denes, 2005).
Steinem was strongly criticized through a book she had written and published on self-esteem. Critics claimed that the book had wrongly represented statistics with regards to the occurrence of anorexia nervosa.
Towards the end of the gulf war, Steinem together with other famous feminists Kate Millet and Robin Morgan rejected the Middle East incursion and claimed that the principle aim of protecting democracy was a mere pretense.
Steinem fully supported Anita Hill during the scandal of Clarence Thomas on sexual harassment. She was also advocating for young children who had been harassed sexually by caretakers with her chief example being the case at the McMartin’s pre-school.
In one of her interviews with the press in 1998, she openly claimed that the speech of President Bill Clinton should have been censored because he was telling lies under the Oath about the case of Monica Lewinsky (Feldman, 2007). But during the same year, she came in defense of the President against sexual impropriety allegations that had been put across by Kathleen Willey, a volunteer from the White House.
Steinem involvement in political campaigns
Since 1960’s, Steinem has been in the forefront in politics with her first public appearance being in the year 1952 when she was campaigning for Adlai Stevenson in the Presidential campaigns.
In 1968, Steinem campaigned for Eugene McCarthy who was a senator then because of his strong criticism on the war of Vietnam and was a civil rights proponent something that really attracted Steinem to his campaigns. But she later on found him as being uninspired, dry and cautious from his way of speaking. She later on shifted her political influence to George McGovern because according to her, George had turned out to have considerate opinions. This she discovered during their meeting in 1963 when both were heading to an economic conference that had been organized by Kenneth John Galbaraith (Gloria, 1969).
However, George McGovern did not make it through the nominations during the famous Convention of the Democratic National in 1968 that was held in Chicago. Steinem credited McGovern for supporting Humphrey after he had lost it and Humphrey had won the nominations while on other hand McCarthy refused to offer support as a show of peace and unity.
In 1972, women were quickly gaining their power in politics and Steinem together with Shirley Chisholm, Betty Feldman and Bella Abzug founded the NWPC in 1971 July where Steinem ran for candidacy as a national delegate supporting Presidential campaigns of Chisholm (Feldman, 2007). Steinem was the largest contributor in McGovern’s campaign in 1968 but she was hesitant in joining his campaign group again.
In 2004, she strongly criticized the administration of President George Bush claiming that his administration had been very unfriendly to fundamental rights of human beings, gender equality and reproduction freedom (Robert, 1997). She further claimed that President Bush had never promoted health and safety campaigns in all working environments across the United States of America.
In 2008, Steinem was very actively involved in the presidential campaigns. She was in full praise of the Democrat Presidential hopefuls. She said that both Obama and Clinton were strong feminists, advocates of civil rights, environmentalists and they strongly criticized the Iraqi war. Both Obama and Clinton had never pandered to the right and that was what distinguished them from the candidates of the republican including John McCain. She also supported them by saying both the candidates were well versed in experience both in local and foreign policies (Denes, 2005).
Steinem as a feminist
Steinem has been considered as a very liberal feminist though in several occasions she has been spotted referring to herself as being a radical feminist. Steinem has been known to have taken strong stands on the following issues;
She fully advocated for reproductive freedom. This is an idea that she came up with and popularized it all by herself. She was in full support of abortion and this is what made her an activist especially after she covered the hearings of Reproductive Health Services for the Magazine of New York. At the time when she was covering this, abortion was very risky and against the law of the country. In one of the documentaries aired on the media, “My Feminism”, Steinem described the abortion she had carried out while still a young lady as a constructive and pivotal experience.
She has been criticizing any form of pornography vehemently. She says that irrespective of the gender of the participants involved, it imitates the paradigm conqueror-victim, male-female and so on and the implication is that of women who are enslaved by a master.
Female Genital Mutilation
She criticizes the act of mutilating the female genital with claims that over seventy five million women all over the world were seriously suffering from complications related to genital mutilation. According to her (Gloria, 1969), men should take proper control of the bodies of women as they are the means of production and men should also repress the strength of the sexuality of women.
Gloria Steinem advocated for gay marriages. According to her, by so doing the lesbians and the gay men will not be oppressed in the society as they will separate reproduction from sexuality.
Cooke, J. (2010). Wrighton’s Warren Days.
Deborah, S. (1992). Anita Hill and Revitalizing Feminism. NY.
Denes, M. (2005). Feminism? It’s Hardly Began. London. The Guardian.
Feldman, C. (2007). Has Gloria Steinem mellowed? No way. The Houston chronicle.
Robert, S. (1997). Feminism, The Noble Lie.
Gloria, S. (1969). After Black Power, Women’s Liberation. NY.
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