feminist womens rights

Gloria Steinem

This weeks Illustrated Women in History was submitted by Sophie Lloyd for the upcoming Illustrated Women in History exhibition in April at Swindon Central Library. It is part of the Illustrated Women in History III zine which is now available here http://etsy.me/2nwlby2

Gloria Steinem is is a writer, lecturer, political activist, and feminist organizer who became nationally recognized as a leader and spokeswoman for the feminist movement in the late 1960s and early 70s.

Steinem was given her first serious assignment as a freelance writer by Esquire magazine features editor Clay Felker. Her first draft on the topic of contraception was rejected and as a result Steinem wrote about the way in which women are forced to choose between a career and marriage. The article preceded Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique by one year.

In 1963 Steinem went undercover as a Playboy Bunny at the New York Playboy Club to write an expose on the exploitative working conditions of the bunnies and especially the sexual demands made of them, which skirted the edge of the law. Her article was published with photographs of her dressed as a ‘bunny’ and as a result she found it hard to get further assignments for a while as in the minds of people who had read it, she was a ‘bunny’ now.

In the late 1960s, Steinem helped to create New York magazine, and wrote a column on politics for the publication. After writing an article on an abortion speak-out by the radical feminist group known as the Redstockings (Steinem had an abortion when she was 22) Steinem began to become more engaged in the women’s movement. She said she didn’t begin her life as an active feminist until that day. She began to express her views in her writing and her essay “After Black Power, Women’s Liberation” which brought her to national fame as a feminist leader.

In 1971 Steinem co-founded the pioneering, feminist Ms magazine with Dorothy Pitman Hughes. The magazine tackled important issues including domestic violence. Ms. became the first national publication to feature the subject on its cover in 1976. Within weeks, Ms. had received 26,000 subscription orders and over 20,000 reader letters.

Steinem has written extensively on women’s issues. Her 1983 collection of essays, “Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions”, featured a broad range of topics from “The Importance of Work” to “The Politics of Food” and her books include the bestsellers “Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem” (which was criticised due to a perceived retreat from social activism), “Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions”, “Moving Beyond Words”, and “Marilyn: Norma Jean”, on the life of Marilyn Monroe.

Steinem helped to found the Women’s Action Alliance, the National Women’s Political Caucus, and Choice USA. She was the founding president of the Ms. Foundation for Women and helped create Take Our Daughters to Work Day. She recently co-founded the Women’s Media Center and GreenStone Media. She has served on the board of trustees of Smith College, and was a member of the Beyond Racism Initiative, a comparative study of racial patterns in the U.S., South Africa, and Brazil.

Steinem continues to work for social justice. As “The idea of retiring is as foreign to me as the idea of hunting.”

Sources here, here, here and here

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