Let’s Get in Formation, Feminists!
This year has been a big one for us ladies (and lady supporters!). Feminists and feminism have been on the tip of so many tongues with people speaking out for equality. We’ve heard from:
- Barack Obama, who declared he is what a feminist looks like in this video from the United State of Women’s Summit
- Emma Watson became a very vocal spokeswoman for He for She. She also launched her equality-themed book club (and freestlyin’ with Lin-Manuel Miranda)
- Sheryl Sandberg’s launched her campaign Lean In that supports women and helps them rise up in their lives, workplaces, and communities. The campaign features amazing women like Michelle Obama, Kerry Washington, and Abby Wambach.
- Beyonce and Shonda Rhimes brought, not only feminism, but feminists of color into the forefront of discussions.
I mean, wow. We’re only halfway through the year! Go Feminists!
One of the highlights so far this year, for me, has been reading Gloria Steinem’s book My Life on the Road. Though it was released late last year, I decided to read it after Emma chose the book for her January book of the month. As someone who is a feminist and who took an intro to women’s studies class in college, I was aware of Steinem and some of her work but was definitely up for learning more.
Steinem was raised by a traveling salesman father and a loving mother who followed him around the country with kids in tow. Steinem longed for normalcy – a house, a yard, the childhoods of her peers – but never received it. As an adult, she’s lived a nomadic, exciting and incredibly fulfilled life. This theme of travel and the experiences of meeting people of different walks of life central in her story.
Throughout the book she parallels her unusual childhood with her worldwide travels in the name of equality and feminism. She is not one to settle, though from her beginnings she claims she always thought she would. Steinem’s fight for feminism begins as she breaks off and engagement and travels to India. She discovers communities working together to fight inequality and injustice and is heavily inspired. She returns to the US and begins a career in journalism and begins to involve herself more in politics. We get to read about her interactions with legendary figures like Bobby Kennedy and MLK Jr and her campaigns for women like Shirley Chisholm and Geraldine Ferraro. We also learn more about her work with organizations like the National Women’s Political Caucus, which still exists today.
My favorite parts of this book were her accounts of the rise of second-wave feminism & the amazing women she worked alongside throughout her life.
Steinem does a great job of giving credit to women like:
- Shirley Chisholm
- Florynce “Flo” Kennedy
- Dorothy Pitman-Hughes
- Wilma Mankiller
for teaching her about intersectionality and the fight for equality. Readers get to learn, as she did, about the fight women of color have in feminism. Steinem even goes on to say that black women basically created it.
As a white feminist, it was so important to learn about how we all can work together to address our collective fight for equality. Among the topics discussed are: the Equal Rights Amendment, women’s reproductive health, and the fight against domestic violence. She also highlights so many other important issues and movements that have been an integral part of her long career. She does discuss her journalism career and her magazine, Ms., but never in great detail. She keeps the focus on the fights she has fought and the women who either stood by her side or lead the way.
Photo credit: psu.edu (Steinem and Pitman Hughes)
I really recommend that all women, especially us millennials, read this book! I cried multiple times reading about how hard women fought to get to where we are today. And, we still have so much ground to cover! It is so inspiring to read how women of different backgrounds all have – and continue to – come together in support of each other. In addition to this book, I highly recommend We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and her TEDx talk.
Have you read Gloria Steinem’s book? Do you have any feminist books or articles that have inspired you? Let us know in the comments below!