What Gloria Steinem Means to Us

Gloria Steinem in her New York City apartment on Nov. 2, 1990. (Barbara Alper / Getty Images)

Can you believe it’s Gloria Steinem’s 90th birthday? In honor of Ms.’ beloved co-founding editor, we asked you to tell us: “What does Gloria mean to you?” These are just a few of your moving responses describing the many ways she “inspired our feminist lives.” Happy Birthday, Gloria!

Gloria Steinem, I cannot tell you what a difference you have made in the lives of women around the world, but I can tell you of your effect on my life, beginning around the age of 12 when I got my first subscription to Ms. magazine. For a little girl living in a dusty, southeastern New Mexico oil town, Ms. was—to put it mildly—an earthquake in my small life. Your books helped me to recognize the misogyny all around me, put me on the path to becoming a women’s historian, and helped me leave a 20-year abusive marriage.  Thank you for all you have done for me and countless others. I could not have done it without you. I hope you live forever. 

—Georgellen Burnett

Gloria has always been a part of and an inspiration for my feminist life. Indeed, I just gave my 16-year-old granddaughter her book on “outrageous acts” to carry on the tradition.

Gloria inspired me in my years as a women’s rights lobbyist. I often thought, “What would Gloria do?” and then got outrageous. I once introduced her to my brilliant legal intern, who told Gloria that she would take over our work one day. Gloria responded, “We’re not the queen, dear—you don’t have to wait until we die to get the job done.”

Her sage counsel and loving support have been the flagship for all our efforts to gain women’s equality.

—Pat Reuss
Ms. co-founder Gloria Steinem at a press conference about the magazine, circa 1980s. (Robert R. McElroy / Getty Images)

As a teenager in 1978, Gloria made me believe I could do and be whatever I chose. Thanks, Gloria, from a PGA LPGA golf professional and the first woman head professional at a private country club! Thank goodness we’ve come a long way.

—Diane S. Whitman

I read Ms. magazine from the beginning in 1972. I moved to NYC in 1979. There was a women’s march to Bryant Park and Gloria was a speaker. I almost wept.

Two years later, in 1981, I was hired as an advertising sales representative for Ms. The first time I found myself in an elevator with Gloria, I nearly fainted. During my five years at Ms., I saw her often and often she would accompany me on sales calls. She was always approachable, always interested, always supportive of the challenges the ad staff faced bringing in revenue so that Ms. could continue its important work. I never worked so hard in my life—as did all of the ad staff.

Ms. magazine changed my life and Gloria lives in my heart.

—Karyn Rose

I remember a college speech class at a conservative Christian college where I “spoke” Gloria’s “If Men Could Menstruate” and blew the room away. I have had the pleasure to meet Ms. Steinem a number of times. It seems she’s always been a part of my life.

—Rev. Andrea Stoeckel
Gloria Steinem in New York City at an International Women’s Day march in 1975. Over 2,000 feminists from all walks of life joined the solidarity march in which they demanded women’s full economic political, legal, sexual and racial equality and the right to control their own lives and bodies. (Bettmann Archive / Getty Images)

Gloria is a hero (and Hero [in Greek mythology] was a woman!). It is not only her leadership, but her strategic judgement, her incredible generosity, her positive spirit and willingness to fight for what is right. We are all part of her legacy. 

I met Gloria in the early years of the women’s movement. I was from the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union and met her when she was speaking in Chicago. She welcomed me with such warmth and shared creative ideas for the movement as well as personal stories of support. 

At every point that I have asked for her help (speaking, supporting an issue, signing on for a cause), she was always there if it were physically possible. I truly love Gloria and appreciate her as a movement leader and friend.

—Heather Booth

Gloria is a fearless, feisty feminist who has deployed her wonderful sense of humor to show the world that forging a feminist future can be fun—as well as steady work! An elegant writer, tireless advocate, fantastic role model and empowering source of inspiration! Thank you, Gloria, for being you!

—Shelley Fisher Fishkin

In 1970, I was a student at a woman’s college because the University of Virginia didn’t accept women. Gloria stopped in Fredericksburg in a supermarket parking lot, and a bunch of us went out to see her and she talked to us like friends. She’s an icon. Still inspired and inspiring—now more than ever.

— Betty Joyce Nash

Gloria and Ms. saw me through a divorce, finishing my first master’s degree and a second degree, rearing two children mostly on my own, buying a house, and taking on organizational responsibilities in my neighborhood, my work and in the larger community. Having Ms. follow the progress of the ERA all these years has been helpful. We’ve not forgotten it, nor have we given up. When the ERA finally publishes in the U.S. Constitution, Ms. will help us all celebrate!

—Pam Flynt Tambo

Sometime in the 1970s, I was woman-ing a booth for the professional organization Women in Management in Chicago at one of the first women’s empowerment conventions. An impressive and friendly woman was in the next booth, and we took turns covering each other booths to take short breaks. I remember how well she expressed women’s challenges in the workplace during our brief conversations. I repeated many of her exact words in future talks I gave. I wasn’t surprised when that woman—Gloria Steinem—became the voice of woman empowerment and I never forgot what an influence she had on me in our brief time together long ago.

—Beatrice Quatroke

Happy birthday to an inspirational and tenacious leader of women’s rights. Your words changed my life and enabled me to become the feisty female that I am. Hang around for another 90 years, Gloria. There’s so much more work to do.


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