Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook

By Jennifer Scanlon | Go to book overview

GLORIA STEINEM
(1934-)

Ann Mauger Colbert

Gloria Steinem, pioneer feminist magazine publisher and activist in the modern feminist movement, is known for her early journalism, including a humorous "undercover" foray into the Playboy Bunny Club in 1963 that was turned into a movie, for her campaigns to help women professionally and economically, and for her continuous efforts to successfully publish a magazine that would address the real concerns of women of all classes. A spokesperson for the women's movement of the 1960s, she seems to be asking herself most recently how and why she became the voice for the movement ( Steinem 1993). This central question to her identity is also taken up by Carolyn Heilbrun in a recent biography. To what degree was Steinem's role constructed by the media she represented? Was she treated fairly, or did the continuous remarks about her physical appearance underplay the significance of her accomplishments? How much of a spokesperson has she been?

Steinem, born in Toledo, Ohio, on March 25, 1934, had an unconventional life that has been recounted with poignancy by Steinem herself and by others. Indeed, her childhood seems to have placed her in the role of "mother" to her own mother. Because her parents were divorced, and her mother was mentally ill, she was forced to be the responsible one while still a child. At the age of ten, with her sister at college and her parents separated, young Gloria Steinem began to take care of her mother. They moved to Toledo and into the house that her mother had inherited. The house, located in a slowly deteriorating, working-class neighborhood, offered some security, but when Steinem attempted to write about these experiences in Revolution from Within, she writes that nausea assaulted her. As she puts it, as a child she had lain in her upper bunk waiting for her mother to allow her to be sick and to take care of her; when she realized that no help could come, that her mother was always to be the sicker one, she climbed down and coped ( Steinem 1983, 134; Steinem 1992, 35-38).

Steinem writes of what has been described by biographers as brutal, ugly child-

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Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Editorial Board ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Bella Abzug (1920-1998) 1
  • Paula Gunn Allen (1939-) 8
  • Gloria AnzaldÚa (1942-) 14
  • Frances Beale (1940-) 22
  • Rita Mae Brown (1944-) 28
  • Charlotte Bunch (1944-) 36
  • Pat Califia (1954-) 44
  • Judy Chicago (1939-) 51
  • Shirley Chisholm (1924-) 55
  • Esther Ngan-Ling Chow (1943-) 60
  • Pearl Cleage (1948-) 66
  • Kate Clinton (1945- ) 73
  • Mary Daly (1928- ) 79
  • Angela Davis (1944-) 86
  • Shulamith Firestone (1945-) 98
  • Jo Freeman (1945-) 104
  • Betty Friedan (1921-) 111
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-) 118
  • Bell Hooks (1952- ) 125
  • Dolores Huerta (1930-) 133
  • June Jordan (1936-) 138
  • Evelyn Fox Keller (1936-) 145
  • Florynce Kennedy (1916-) 150
  • Audre Lorde (1934-1992) 156
  • Catharine Mackinnon (1946-) 163
  • Olga Madar (1915-1996) 174
  • Wilma Mankiller (1945-) 181
  • Del Martin (1921-) 188
  • Kate Millett (1934- ) 194
  • CherrÍe Moraga (1952- ) 201
  • Robin Morgan (1941-) 206
  • Pauli Murray (1910-1985) 213
  • Eleanor Holmes Norton (1937-) 218
  • Alice Paul (1885-1977) 223
  • Anna Quindlen (1952-) 231
  • Adrienne Rich (1929-) 238
  • Faith Ringgold (1930-) 245
  • Rosemary Ruether (1936-) 251
  • Joanna Russ (1937-) 257
  • Patricia Schroeder (1940-) 264
  • Eleanor Smeal (1939-) 271
  • Barbara Smith (1946-) 279
  • Gloria Steinem (1934-) 283
  • Margo St. James (1937-) 290
  • Alice Walker (1944- ) 297
  • Rebecca Walker (1969-) 305
  • Michele Wallace (1952-) 311
  • Sarah Weddington (1945-) 317
  • Ellen Willis (1941-) 327
  • Selected Bibliography 335
  • Index 341
  • About the Editor and Contributors 355
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