Gloria Steinem: Mother Of Feminism Turns 80

Gloria Steinem, who is often regarded as the mother of feminism, turned 80 on Tuesday.

Throughout the 1960s and 70s, Steinem worked as a social and political activist, while also writing pieces for numerous publications. All of this saw her labelled the spokeswoman for the women’s liberation movement, and she also became a hugely prominent writer and political figure.

She worked as a columnist for New York magazine, and she also co-founded Ms. magazine, and in 2005, alongside Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan, Steinem co-founded the Women’s Media Center. This organization looks to promote the voices of women in the media through training and the creation of original content.

However, despite her efforts covering a plethora of serious issues, Steinhem also possessed one of the sharpest and wittiest minds of her generation.

Here is a selection of some of her finest quotes:

– “A woman reading Playboy feels a little like a Jew reading a Nazi manual.”

– “So what would happen if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not?…Street guys would invent slang (“He’s a three-pad man”) and “give fives” on the corner with some exchange like, “Man you lookin’ good!” “Yeah, man, I’m on the rag!”

One of the most famous quotes associated with Steinem, “women need men like fish need a bicycle,” is often misattributed. This is an issue that she cleared up with a letter to Time in 2000, where she gave proper accreditation to Australian Irina Dunn:

“You credit me with the witticism “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”

In fact, Irina Dunn, a distinguished Australian educator, journalist and politician, coined the phrase back in 1970 when she was a student at the University of Sydney. She paraphrased the philosopher who said, “Man needs God like a fish needs a bicycle.”

Dunn deserves credit for creating such a popular and durable spoof of the old idea that women need men more than vice versa.”

Steinem, who had an abortion in London aged 22, was propelled into public consciousness as she rallied at pro-abortion events during the late 1960s.

She has since admitted that she didn’t begin her life “as an active feminist,” until the day she covered an abortion speak-out being held in a church basement in Greenwich Village.

Steinem has also written extensively on pornography, genital mutilation, same-sex marriage, transsexualism and feminist theory, while she has been honored with close to two dozen awards for her efforts too.

[Image via lev radin/]