Category Archives: Feminists

Who Is Gloria Steinem and What Is Her Role in Feminism?

For half a century, Ohio-born Gloria Marie Steinem has been leading the way in the rights of women and, to a lesser extent, the marginalized citizens of the world in general. Her work in the 1960s and 1970s helped to change the world and pave the way for women’s rights everywhere.

Whether or not you are a woman, the work of Ms. Steinem is important to understand the history of the country and how the patriarchal system has begun to collapse in exchange for more equitable rights for everyone. However, she has not been without critics during her outspoken public career. In fact, proponents on both sides of the feminist discussion often site Steinem during arguments.

Born in the mid-1930s, her childhood included the turmoil of being raised by a divorced mentally ill mother after her parents separated when she was only 10 years old. Her father, a salesman, moved to the West Coast, leaving young Gloria with an unemployed and unemployable mother. Her mother’s mental illness allowed Gloria to see the injustices related to gender, education and economic status.

After she attended college, she began a career in journalism that sparked her activism. She wrote a piece for Esquire magazine during the early 1950s about the marginalization of women. She laid out how women at that time had to choose between a family and a career, predating the better-known “The Feminine Mystique” by a year.

Although she did not gain international credit for that particular piece, it was the first in a long line of articles, essays and other penned works regarding how females in the society are sexualized and don’t have the same voice as men. She even worked undercover as a Playboy Bunny in Los Angeles in order to get an insider view of the sex industry.

Starting in the late 1960s, Ms. Steinem used her voice to promote political activism. Like Jane Fonda and other powerful women at the time, she began to talk passionately about politics and the people who were running for office. Needless to say, the conservative candidates were not always happy with her words and have made great efforts to attack her as a person and a journalist.

However, she has not allowed age to keep her from remaining active in the world of politics and promoting equality for all. For instance, she has been outspoken about female genital mutilation in other countries, as well as male genital mutilation here and abroad. Her stance that these guidelines are designed to suppress rather than enhance the populace is helping to make changes regarding these practices.

Anyone who wants to understand the feminist movement and how it has impacted the world should certainly learn more about Gloria Steinem and the work that she has done. Her powerful words and actions have impacted society in positive ways for the women who live here. While perceived by some as radical, others believe she is exactly what the world needed! She still plays a heavy hand in the world of feminism in this day and age. You can see her here talking at the Women’s March on Washington earlier this year:

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Susan B. Anthony – One Of The First Feminists

For today’s true feminists, Susan B. Anthony is a heroine. She was the force behind a woman’s right to vote and is considered one of the most influential women in history. Born in 1850, Anthony was a woman’s right activist and social reformer. She was born a Quaker and believed in social equality. At the age of 17, Anthony collected petitions against slavery and was appointed the American Anti-Slavery Society state agent for New York in 1856.

In 1852, Anthony was barred from speaking at a temperance conference. She was barred because she was a woman. Infuriated, Anthony, along with her friend, Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the Women’s State Temperance Society in New York. Anthony and Stanton also formed the Women’s Loyal National League in 1863 and used the League to help collect almost 400,000 signatures on a petition to abolish slavery.

Anthony and Stanton formed the Equal Rights Association in 1863 and advocated for equal rights for both African Americans and women. Their newspaper, The Revolution was first published in 1868 and in 1869, these two women formed the National Woman Suffrage Association following a split in the women’s movement.

By 1890, this rift was healed and the American Woman Suffrage Association and the National Woman Suffrage Association combined to create the new National American Woman Suffrage Association. Anthony was the driving force behind this merger. Anthony came to believe that no woman would be respected or taken seriously until they could vote. The vote would provide women with political leverage and eventually, her work resulted in women getting the right to vote when the Nineteenth Amendment was passed in 1920, 14 years after her death.

Susan B. Anthony is considered by most to be the first feminist in the United States. She attended her convention on women’s rights in 1852. She and Stanton believed women would be granted the right to vote by the Republicans as a reward for garnering the support of women for the Thirteenth Amendment. They were to be bitterly disappointed as Congress once again denied women this right. Anthony never gave up on her efforts for women’s suffrage.

She traveled throughout the West and continued to campaign vigorously for the women’s rights. In 1872, Anthony along with her sisters and other women were arrested because they had voted. Along with the election inspectors accused of allowing her to vote, Anthony was arraigned and charged with voting in the Rochester Common Council chambers. Anthony refused to pay bail and was eventually indicted. Her attorney did pay her bail and asked for a change of venue. This was denied by the court who then instructred the jury to find Anthony guilty. She was fined $100 and courtroom fees. Anthony refused to pay, but the judge didn’t put her in jail and she lost her right to appeal the verdict.

She met with President Theodore Roosevelt in 1898. He responded with that women’s suffrage was “not that important.” ¬†She continued to be an advocate and was quoted saying “Failure Is Impossible”. She died in 1906 from heart failure in her home in Rochester but her legacy continues.

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