Gloria Steinem  

Gloria Steinem … An American Feminist Icon

Born on March 25, 1934, in the Midwestern United States, Gloria Steinem became a pioneer and “leading light” of the burgeoning Feminist Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Along with other Feminist icons like Betty Friedan, Steinem spearheaded a movement that drew national attention and as much derision as acclaim in the early years.

Gloria Steinem didn’t start out to become a Feminist icon. It just happened to her because of the times in which she lived. America was changing in the 1960s … because of war … a generation of young people who were intent on changing society … and sexual habits. It was all about social and personal freedom, professional opportunity … and politics.

Gloria SteinemA confirmed feminist, journalist, social and political activist and a recognized leader , as well as media spokesperson for the Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1960s and later on in the 1970s, the attractive and articulate Steinem was the poster girl for the movement.

While many of her “sisters” in the Women’s Liberation Movement worked hard at being unattractive and angry, Gloria Steinem was naturally good-looking, well-spoken, articulate and, generally, somewhat affable. While she may indeed have been as angry as other feminists in the movement, that anger was not readily apparent in her public appearances.

Of course, when she appeared on TV or in other public forums, she maintained a steadfast approach to issues and social concerns, one with a decidedly liberal bent. In fact, as a leader of the Feminist Movement, Steinem was occasionally criticized for selectively coming to the aid of women who were victims of abuse or actual crimes. If the victimized woman was an obvious liberal, Steinem and her movement became vocal supporters.

A victimized woman representing the other political philosophy was often completely ignored. This led to extensive criticism of Gloria Steinem and of the movement she fronted. Over time, and because of the movement’s obvious biases, it became known as more of a political movement, supporting a single party (the Democrats) instead of a social movement seeking justice and equality for women.

Yet, throughout her adult life, Gloria Steinem has managed to succeed and prosper. She helped found and start New York Magazine in 1963, a publication that remains in print and popular today. She appeared endlessly on TV talk and news programs to present the positions of her movement and, in 1992 she even co-founded Choice USA, a non-profit organization deeply involved in supporting women’s reproductive rights.

Gloria Steinem, now in her 70s, has faced serious illness, has enjoyed much fame and acclaim, has been scorned and is despised by countless numbers of her opponents on the other end of the political and social spectrum. But, like her or loathe her, it must be said that she has had, to date, an eventful life.

The Women’s Liberation Movement has never enjoyed great popularity with the masses of American women who live normal lives. The number of women who call themselves feminists is probably as low in number as it has ever been. But Gloria Steinem, the American Feminist Icon, doesn’t care. She will continue to champion the causes that have given meaning to her life.