Gloria Steinem

On this date in 1934, feminist leader and journalist Gloria Steinem was born in Toledo, Ohio, to Leo and Ruth (Nuneviller) Steinem. Her father abandoned the family, when she was 10, leaving her to care for her mother, who was dysfunctional from depression. She went to school when possible, tap-danced in talent contests and mothered her mother. In 1951 she moved in with her older sister in Washington, D.C., and complete dher high school education. She was accepted by Smith College, where she first started to write, and graduated magna cum laude in 1956.

The recipient of a two-year grant to India, she discovered that she was pregnant. During a stopover in England en route to India and facing a desperate crossroads, Steinem managed to arrange an abortion. She was later on the vanguard calling for legalized abortion. She moved in 1960 to New York City to start a journalism career, where she was met with sexist roadblocks such as the Life magazine editor who told her "We don't want a pretty girl. We want a writer."

In 1969 Steinem wrote her first feminist article. Throughout the next five years, she stumped for feminism around the country, becoming the women's movement's best-known, most quotable exponent. She helped found Ms. Magazine in 1971, convinced that freedom would come through "individual women telling the truth." Feminism she defined as "the belief that women are full human beings."

In 1972, McCall's magazine named her Woman of the Year. She was instrumental in calling the National Women's Conference in Houston, Texas, in 1977, a landmark gathering. In 1983, her first collection of essays and articles was published, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions. She also wrote Marilyn: Norma Jean, a biography of Marilyn Monroe (1986), Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem (1992) and Moving Beyond Words (1997). An idea generator and original thinker, Steinem remains one of feminism's most elegant, loyal and thoughtful advocates.

Steinem speaking at the Women Together Summit at Carpenters Local Union in Phoenix in 2016; Gage Skidmore photo under CC 2.0.

“It's an incredible con job, when you think of it, to believe something now in exchange for life after death. Even corporations, with all their reward systems, don't try to make it posthumous.”

—Steinem, interview with Annie Laurie Gaylor, The Feminist Connection (November 1980)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

FFRF is a member of the Secular Coalition for America

FFRF privacy statement