Please welcome author Winifred Conkling here to tell you about the biography she's written entitled Ms. Gloria Steinem, A Life. Reviewers call it insightful and well-researched. From Booklist, "Readers will come away with...
a deeper appreciation for how much has changed for women during Steinem's lifetime and how much of that change was forged by Steinem herself."
Winifred: I grew up listening to Gloria Steinem as the voice of the women’s movement. I read her books and heard her lecture several times, but I didn’t not appreciate the complexities of her life until I began my research for this book.
Steinem didn’t expect her life to be defined by the women’s movement. She was a reluctant revolutionary, at least in the beginning. In her twenties, Gloria thought she would spend a few years working on feminist issues and then turn her attention to other causes.
Steinem’s life epitomizes what it meant to be a twentieth-century feminist.
In the 1960s, she became a respected journalist and writer; she cofounded Ms. magazine and became a best-selling author. She wanted to make change, not just write about it. She became a political activist and social reformer; she cofounded the National Women’s Political Caucus, the Ms. Foundation, and the Women’s Media Center, among other groups. She became a leader in the women’s movement, speaking out on feminist issues for decades.
But Steinem’s life almost turned out differently.
In her senior year of college, Steinem accepted a marriage proposal and a diamond engagement ring. She came close to choosing a conventional life as a wife and mother, but, in the end, she couldn’t go through with the wedding.
According to the conventions of the 1950s, a wife was expected to devote herself to her husband and children, but Steinem wanted a life of her own. What gave Steinem the confidence to resist social pressures of her day? Her unusual childhood experiences almost certainly shaped her adult choices.
their mother/daughter roles were reversed, and Steinem was forced to care for her mother, feeding her and comforting her when she became confused or afraid
Steinem tried not to resent her mother’s illness, but she felt the burden of putting someone else’s needs ahead of her own. Years later, Steinem may have resisted the urge to become a wife and mother because she had already experienced the role of caregiver when she was a child herself.
By rejecting social convention, Steinem was free to follow her personal passions. Instead of raising a family, she devoted much of her creative energy to the women’s movement and feminist causes. Without family commitments and obligations, Steinem was also freer to be herself, without being accused of emasculating her husband or neglecting her children. She spoke only for herself, but she spoke on behalf of all women.
Steinem wasn’t satisfied with writing about feminist issues. She became an activist and toured the country as a provocative speaker on college campuses and at community events.
Throughout her career, Steinem co-founded a number of organizations:
Winifred, thanks so much for giving us a quick look at the life of Gloria Steinem. This space really is too short to give justice to the the accomplishments of such an American icon. We'll all have to read the book!
You may remember Winifred from her book Radioactive! How Irène Curie & Lise Meitner Revolutionized Science and Changed the World. If you missed it, here's the post: Imagine a Teenage Girl Goes to War to Impress Her Mom, and that’s Just the Beginning.
To learn more about Author Winifred Conkling and her books, check out her website here...
I'm fascinated to discover little-known stories of history. Stories of people and events that provide a new perspective on why and how things happened, new voices that haven't been heard, insight into how the past brought us here today, and how it might guide us to a better future.
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