Gloria Steinem’s influence extends far beyond her active years in the Women’s Liberation Movement. She is a symbol of unwavering commitment to feminism. She is a beacon of inspiration for women of all ages challenging societal norms and fighting for their rights.
In this article, we will explore how did Gloria Steinem change the world? Steinem’s world-changing power lies not only in what she has achieved but also in her ability to inspire others with her relentless dedication to equality.
How Did Gloria Steinem Change the World?
Steinem’s career is a testament to her unyielding dedication to the cause of women’s rights. As one of the most visible leaders and passionate spokeswomen of the women’s rights movement, she led marches, toured the country as an in-demand speaker, and co-founded several organizations aimed at promoting gender equality.
These include the Women’s Action Alliance (1971), which promotes non-sexist, multi-racial children’s education; the Women’s Media Center (2004) to promote positive images of women in media; Voters for Choice (1977), a pro-choice political action committee; and the Ms. Foundation for Women.
1. The Birth of a Feminist Icon
Gloria Steinem, born on March 25, 1934, in Toledo, Ohio, during the height of the Depression, was raised in a nomadic family where her father’s job as a traveling antique salesman often had them moving from place to place.
This unconventional upbringing lent an interesting flavor to her worldview and set the stage for her future role as a trailblazer in feminism.
Steinem’s early involvement in feminism was shaped by the societal context of the time. In the 1960s, patriarchal norms and male-dominated institutions were deeply entrenched, posing significant challenges to women’s liberation.
Yet, Steinem, undeterred, moved to New York after graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Smith College in 1956, hoping to make her mark as a journalist.
Steinem’s Innovative Approaches to Advocacy
- In 1962, she landed a meaty assignment for Esquire on the state of contraception. This topic was gaining prominence with the advent of the Pill. Her radical reportage did not stop there.
- A year later, she wrote a groundbreaking story about the exploitation and sexual harassment of Playboy Bunnies at Hugh Hefner’s New York Playboy Club.
- These early assignments underscored Steinem’s innovative approach to journalism, using her pen to expose injustices and advocate for equal rights.
- Steinem’s activism took a more personal turn when she had a secret abortion at the age of 22 in London.
- She would later attribute this experience as instrumental in solidifying her active embrace of feminism.
It was this personal conviction and her refusal to shy away from controversial topics that made her a beacon of hope for many women feeling marginalized or unheard.
2. Gloria Steinem and the Women’s Liberation Movement
In addition to her accomplishments, Steinem is renowned for her pivotal role in the Women’s Liberation Movement.
- In 1972, alongside fellow feminists Congresswoman Bella Abzug, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, and feminist Betty Friedan, she formed the National Women’s Political Caucus.
- This organization continues to support gender equality and ensures the election of more pro-equality women to public office.
- Furthermore, Steinem was a co-convenor of a gathering of more than 300 women, including such luminaries as ‘Battling Bella’ Abzug, Shirley Chisholm, and Myrlie Evers-Williams, on July 10, 1971, further cementing her position as a key figure in the movement.
These include the Penney-Missouri Journalism Award, the Front Page and Clarion awards, National Magazine awards, an Emmy Citation for excellence in television writing, and the Lifetime Achievement in Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.
Her legacy of tireless advocacy for equal rights and opportunities continues to inspire generations today.
A Pioneering Force in Women’s Organizations
Steinem’s impact extended far beyond her journalism. She co-founded several organizations dedicated to advancing women’s rights, including the Women’s Action Alliance, the National Women’s Political Caucus, and the Women’s Media Center in 2004.
As president and co-founder of Voters for Choice, she also merged with the Planned Parenthood Action Fund for the 2004 elections, demonstrating her commitment to reproductive rights.
Despite facing backlash for her progressive views, Steinem remained steadfast. When invited to be the inaugural Legend for Lands’ End’s series honoring individuals making a difference in their industries, she faced criticism for being a “pro-abortion feminist“.
Yet, she did not let this deter her from championing equal rights and women in the workplace, embodying the resilience that has characterized her lifelong fight for women’s rights.
3. The Impact and Legacy of Steinem’s Activism
Gloria Steinem’s involvement in the feminist movement in the 1960s and 1970s had a profound impact on the progress made regarding equal rights and opportunities. As an activist, she has been instrumental in creating a more equitable society. Even though there is still much work to be done.
Her trailblazing efforts within the Women’s Liberation Movement played a vital role in eroding patriarchal structures, laying the groundwork for future generations of feminists.
The Second Wave of Feminism
The second wave of feminism, which Steinem helped to spearhead, addressed a broad range of topics beyond the legal rights that characterized the first wave.
- Issues such as sexuality, the workplace, reproductive rights, and family were brought to the fore, thereby broadening the feminist agenda.
- As an articulate advocate for women’s rights, Steinem was involved in the founding of numerous influential organizations like the Coalition of Labor Union Women, Voters for Choice, Women Against Pornography, and the Women’s Media Center.
- These groups continue to echo her advocacy and amplify the voices of women worldwide.
Creating Organizations and Opportunities
Steinem’s impact was not only felt in the creation of organizations but also through her innovative ideas that have deeply influenced feminist discourse. For instance, the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC), which Steinem co-founded in 1971, has since promoted gender equality and provided training for women who aspire to government positions.
This initiative has contributed to increasing the representation of pro-equality women in public offices, thereby solidifying Steinem’s legacy.
Her influence extends to the media landscape as well. As a co-founder of New York Magazine and Ms. Magazine, Steinem amplified feminist narratives and perspectives that were often marginalized in mainstream media.
To this day, she continues to serve as a contributing editor at Ms. Magazine, ensuring that the struggles and triumphs of women are accurately represented.
Steinem’s enduring activism into the 21st century demonstrates her unyielding commitment to advancing equal rights and opportunities.
- She has been active in political campaigns voicing her support or disapproval based on their stance on equal rights.
- Most notably, she endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton in both the 2008 and 2016 presidential campaigns
- She also spoke at the Women’s March on Washington in 2017.
- Her ability to adapt her activism to current issues ensures her relevance and impact persist in an ever-evolving social landscape.
- Steinem’s world-changing power can be traced back to her audacious vision of a society free from gender and race-based roles.
- By championing a humanist approach, she has instilled an enduring aspiration for true equality.
The progress made since her initial involvement in the feminist movement attests to the transformative impact of her activism. Yet, it also serves as a reminder of the work that remains to achieve the equal society Steinem envisions.
Steinem’s Unyielding Stance for Women’s Rights
Gloria Steinem’s life is a testament to the power of unrelenting commitment and unwavering resolution. As a feminist icon, she dedicated her entire life to advocating for women’s rights,. She refused to silence her voice or soften her stance to keep others comfortable.
Even in the face of backlash and amid patriarchal, male-dominated institutions, Steinem held firm to her beliefs and tirelessly pursued equality for all.
Steinem’s Unrelenting Commitment
Steinem’s involvement in the Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1960s and 1970s positioned her as a leading figure in the fight for equal rights.
- She adopted innovative approaches to challenge the societal norms of the time. She pushed the boundaries in an era when women were expected to accept the status quo.
- Her steadfast commitment to the cause was evident through her active participation in political and social causes.
- She co-founded Ms. Magazine in 1971, and her role in forming the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1972.
The Importance of Speaking Your Truth
Setting an example for others, Steinem demonstrated the importance of standing one’s ground and speaking one’s truth. She never wavered in her dedication to women’s rights and used her platform to amplify the voices of those less heard.
Launching Ms. magazine in 1971, Steinem created a space for conversations around women’s rights and societal issues, amplifying the discourse around gender equality.
Steinem’s journey as a feminist activist serves as a powerful reminder of the impact one individual can have when they are committed to a cause.
Despite societal pushback, she remained steadfast in her fight for equality. She proved that change is possible when you stand your ground and speak your truth.
5. Steinem’s Revolutionary Vision and Active Involvement
Gloria Steinem’s vision for a society was radical, yet profoundly simple – a world free from the shackles of gender and race-based roles, where everyone is treated as a valuable individual.
- Steinem’s vision is rooted in her deep belief in humanism.
- Her philosophy emphasizes the value of human beings, individually and collectively. It affirms their ability to improve their lives through reason and self-determined values.
- Her belief in humanism fuelled her fight against patriarchal norms and structures.
- As she once said, “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”
This perspective shaped her lifelong dedication to feminism and the Women’s Liberation Movement. It also allowed her to see beyond the narrow confines of gender roles and envision a world where everyone, regardless of their sex or race, could thrive.
Steinem’s Active Involvement
Steinem’s commitment to this vision was not just philosophical. She demonstrated it through active involvement in political campaigns and large-scale demonstrations.
A founding member of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, Voters for Choice, Women Against Pornography, and the Women’s Media Center, Steinem gave much of her time to political organizations and became an articulate advocate for the women’s liberation movement.
Her active participation in these organizations was emblematic of her commitment to confront and challenge institutions that perpetuated inequality and injustice. Whether it was labor unions, voting rights, media representation, or issues of sexuality, Steinem was at the forefront, pushing for systemic change.
Perhaps one of her most memorable acts of public activism was her involvement in the Women’s March on Washington. The march served as a powerful demonstration of solidarity among women and a clear call to action for equal rights and opportunities.
Steinem’s revolutionary vision and active involvement have been instrumental in shaping the course of the feminist movement.
So, how did Gloria Steinem change the world? Well, Gloria Steinem’s enduring influence in the fight for equal rights and opportunities cannot be overstated. As we reflect on her world-changing power, it is crucial to recognize the continued relevance of her work in today’s society. The battle for equality is far from over, and we must strive to uphold Steinem’s vision of a society free from gender-based roles.
To honor Steinem’s legacy, we must draw inspiration from her lifelong activism and apply it to our own fights for justice and equality. It begins with standing firm in our beliefs, speaking our truths, and fostering a culture of respect and equality. After all, as Gloria Steinem once said, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”
Watch Gloria Steinem’s message to future generations in the video below: