Feminist, Journalist and Political Activist
Monday, November 12, 2018 8pm
Gloria Steinem is a writer, lecturer, political activist, and feminist organizer. She travels in this and other countries as an organizer and lecturer and is a frequent media spokeswoman on issues of equality. She is particularly interested in the shared origins of sex and race caste systems, gender roles and child abuse as roots of violence, non-violent conflict resolution, the cultures of indigenous peoples, and organizing across boundaries for peace and justice. She now lives in New York City and has just finished a book detailing her more than thirty years on the road as a feminist organizer.
In 1972, she co-founded Ms. magazine, and remained one of its editors for fifteen years. She continues to serve as a consulting editor for Ms., and was instrumental in the magazine’s move to join and be published by the Feminist Majority Foundation. In 1968, she had helped to found New York magazine, where she was a political columnist and wrote feature articles. As a freelance writer, she was published in Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, and women’s magazines as well as for publications in other countries. She has produced a documentary on child abuse for HBO, a feature film about the death penalty for Lifetime, and been the subject of profiles on Lifetime and Showtime.
Her books include the bestsellers Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, Moving Beyond Words, and Marilyn: Norma Jean, on the life of Marilyn Monroe, and in India, As If Women Matter. Her writing also appears in many anthologies and textbooks, and she was an editor of Houghton Mifflin’s The Reader’s Companion to U.S. Women’s History.
Ms. Steinem helped to found the Women’s Action Alliance, a pioneering national information center that specialized in nonsexist, multiracial children’s education, and the National Women’s Political Caucus, a group that continues to work to advance the numbers of pro-equality women in elected and appointed office at a national and state level. She also co-founded the Women’s Media Center in 2004. She was president and co-founder of Voters for Choice, a pro-choice political action committee for twenty-five years, then with the Planned Parenthood Action Fund when it merged with VFC for the 2004 elections. She was also co-founder and serves on the board of URGE, a national organization that supports young pro-choice leadership and works to preserve comprehensive sex education in schools. She was the founding president of the Ms. Foundation for Women, a national multi-racial, multi-issue fund that supports grassroots projects to empower women and girls, and also a founder of its Take Our Daughters to Work Day, a first national day devoted to girls that has now become an institution here and in other countries. She was a member of the Beyond Racism Initiative, a three-year effort on the part of activists and experts from South Africa, Brazil and the United States to compare the racial patterns of those three countries and to learn cross-nationally. She is currently working with the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College on documenting the grassroots origins of the U.S. women’s movement, and on a Center for Organizers in tribute to Wilma Mankiller, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. As links to other countries, she helped found Equality Now, Donor Direct Action and Direct Impact Africa.
As a writer, Ms. Steinem has received the James Weldon Johnson Award for Journalism, Penney-Missouri Journalism Award, the Front Page and Clarion awards, National Magazine awards, an Emmy Citation for excellence in television writing, the Women’s Sports Journalism Award, the Lifetime Achievement in Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Writers Award from the United Nations, and most recently, the University of Missouri School of Journalism Award for Distinguished Service in Journalism. In 2015, Gloria received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for her lasting humanitarian contributions.
Ms. Steinem graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Smith College in 1956, and then spent two years in India on a Chester Bowles Fellowship. She wrote for Indian publications, and was influenced by Gandhian activism. She also received the first Doctorate of Human Justice awarded by Simmons College, the Bill of Rights Award from the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, the National Gay Rights Advocates Award, the Liberty award of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Ceres Medal from the United Nations, and a number of honorary degrees. Parenting magazine selected her for its Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995 for her work in promoting girls’ self-esteem, and Biography magazine listed her as one of the 25 most influential women in America.
In 1993, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York. And in 2013, President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor. Rutgers University is now creating the Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies. In 1993, her concern with child abuse led her to co-produce and narrate an Emmy Award winning TV documentary for HBO, Multiple Personalities: The Search for Deadly Memories. With Rosilyn Heller, she also co-produced an original 1993 TV movie for Lifetime, Better Off Dead, which examined the parallel forces that both oppose abortion and support the death penalty.
Gloria has been the subject of three television documentaries, including HBO’s Gloria: In Her Own Words, and she is among the subjects of the 2013 PBS documentary MAKERS, a continuing project to record the women who made America. She was the subject of The Education of a Woman, a biography written by Carolyn Heilbrun.