Leading Lady : Gloria Steinem

"The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day; a movement is only people moving."

Gloria Steinem started her career as a freelance journalist. She first became known for her expose, "A Bunny's Tale," published in Show Magazine. She got a job at the Playboy Club for the expose, expecting not to get past the interview process. The piece revealed objectification and poor working conditions at the club but it harmed her career as a writer. She had been a Bunny and the reason why didn't matter.

Gloria helped found New York Magazine and began writing about the political issues she was truly interested in. She reported on an abortion hearing staged by women because legislative hearings about abortion law reform featured only male speakers. It was this transformative assignment that converted her into an active feminist. Gloria was an established journalist but nobody wanted to publish articles about women's issues. She began public speaking with her friend and activist Dorothy Pitman Hughes, and in 1971 the two of them co-founded Ms. Magazine. The feminist magazine was first met with ridicule but the test copy sold out in eight days. Ms. Magazine is still active today.

Gloria's objective is simple but the challenges it faces are complex. Her aspiration is for an egalitarian society where people are linked instead of ranked. She believes the ranking system began when reproductive control was taken away from women and that ranking of gender roles sets a foundation for ranking by race and class. She defines ways in which traditional gender roles are harmful to democracy and works to educate on how we can change them, starting in our homes. The world still faces many of the social justice and human rights problems that existed when Gloria's activism began nearly fifty years ago. But at 82 years of age, Gloria Steinem is still writing, still delivering powerful speeches, and still fighting. - Kelly Longhurst

Photo Credit : MS. Magazine, 1980