Born: March 25, 1934
Ohio connection: Birth
Gloria Steinem, writer and feminist icon, was born on March 25, 1934, in Toledo, Ohio. After a difficult childhood that included her parent’s divorce and her mother’s mental illness, Steinem won a scholarship to Smith College, where she studied government and politics, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1956. She soon broke off a marriage engagement to study and travel in India for a year and, upon her return to America, began looking for work as a writer. As a woman, however, she was routinely given the fashion, celebrity, and travel assignments, though her interests–politics, foreign affairs, the Vietnam War, and civil rights–were more intellectual and serious in nature. Steinem described this time in her life as “schizophrenically split between career and conscience”.
Her luck, and life changed in 1968 when, together with Clay Felker, she founded New York magazine and was able to write about serious issues which were important to her. Shortly after, in 1969, Steinem realized her feminist perspective with an article in New York titled “After Black Power, Women’s Liberation”. In 1971, the first issue of the groundbreaking Ms. magazine, of which Steinem was founder and editor, was published as a supplement to New York magazine. Steinem decided to republish the supplement with additional articles in January 1972. In eight days, all 300,000 copies were sold. Ms. magazine remains a leading voice for gender equality in America. Steinem has also written several books. Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions and Moving Beyond Words are collections of essays with a feminist, political, personal, or social slant. Marilyn is an attempt to understand and reveal the real Marilyn Monroe, whom Steinem personally knew, as opposed to her public, sex goddess image. Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem, about the importance and influence of self-esteem in everyday life, became a best seller. In 2014, she published As if Women Matter: The Essential Gloria Steinem Reader in India.
President Barack Obamam awarded Ms. Steinem the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and, in 2019, the National Civil Rights Museum awarded her their Freedom Award.
Steinem, who, without apology, still considers herself a radical feminist, married for the first time at age 66 on September 3, 2000. Her husband, David Bale, died on December 30, 2003. Steinem still grants interviews and gives speeches to organizations and college graduates and was a featured speaker at the March for Women’s Lives in Washington, D.C., in April 2004.
Awards: In addition to the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Steinem’s numerous awards and honors include the Chester Bowles Asian Fellow in India, 1957-58; Penney-Missouri Journalism Award, 1970, for the New York article “After Black Power, Women’s Liberation”; Ohio Governor’s Journalism Award, 1972; Woman of the Year, McCall’s magazine, 1972; Doctorate of Human Justice from Simmons College, 1973; Bill of Rights Award, American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, 1975; Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars fellow, 1977; Ceres Medal from United nations; Front Page Award; Clarion Award; nine citations from World Almanac as one of the twenty-five most influential women in America; PEN Center West Literary Award of Honor, 2002.