Feminist History Lesson: Who Gloria Steinem Is And Why She's An Awesome Role Model

Gloria Steinem: badass feminist activist who has worked tirelessly to fight for women's rights. Hear a little about how she became one of the leading women behind the movement, and let her serve as a reminder there's still a lot of work to be done.

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Gloria Steinem: The predominant reaction to the women's movement was ridicule. It took us a long time to be taken seriously enough to be opposed.

When it came to assignments, as a freelance writer, I was assigned things about fashion, and food, and makeup, and babies, or, the low point of my life, textured stockings.

When I delivered the articles to my editor at the Sunday Times Magazine, he generally gave me a choice, like, either I could go to a hotel room with him in the afternoon or mail his letters on the way out. Needless to say, I mailed the letters, but I just assumed you had to put up with this.

I don't think i understood the need for a movement until I went to cover an abortion hearing. I had had an abortion when I first graduated from college and had never told anyone.

Woman: Women are not going to sit quietly any longer. You are murdering us!

Gloria Steinem: And I listened to women testify about all that they had to go through; the injury, the danger, the infection, the sexual humiliation, to get an illegal abortion.

And I began to understand that my experience was not just mine but an almost universal female experience. And that meant that only if you got together with other women was it going to be affected in anyway. 

I only want to remind you tonight, that what we are talking about is a revolution and not a reform.

Wherever we went there would be these huge crowds and people would stay for hours afterwards and talk and form groups.

Because women were so relieved to hear someone describing what actually happened to them. That it was just like wildfire. It grew into an idea for a magazine. 

We were terrified we were going to embarrass the movement by creating something that wasn't successful, but it was supposed to be on the newsstands for a couple of months and it was just a little over a week and it sold out. It just walked off the newsstands. We were shocked.

It was heady, and exciting, and naive, you know, because we thought these injustices are so great, surely if we just explain them to people they will want to fix them.

One great tribute to the success of the women's movement is the degree of the backlash against it.

Howard K. Smith: Among the multitude of causes in this cause-ridden age, one that has not, to me at least, made it's case is women's lib. 

Gloria Steinem: You know in my heart I think the only alternative to being a feminist is being a masochist. 

Before this wave of feminism came along, the majority of people probably thought that male and female roles were due to biology, or nature, or God, or Freud, or something that you couldn't change.

Now the majority of the people in this country know that if there is inequality it's wrong, it's unjust, that we're all human beings and the point is our individual talents. That's a huge change. Huge, huge change.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

This video is by Makers, which has a ton of awesome videos about amazing women. You may spend a good few hours watching them all.

Mar 25, 2014

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