As it was World Book Day yesterday, I thought I would share with you a little book review on an awesome book I’ve been reading this last month. I read Gloria Steinem’s book as part of Emma Watson’s feminist book club ‘Our Shared Shelf‘ and I have to be honest, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. For one, I have never enjoyed autobiographies before and two, I’m a crime/thriller book lovers so wasn’t sure this politics based book would be something I’d enjoy – for fear it would too closely remind me of all of my readings and textbooks for my degree!
First of all, blimey isn’t Gloria Steinem one heck of a woman! The stuff she’s gone through and contributed too is absolutely incredible! She’s done everything and been everywhere all for her desire for equality.
Learning about her family, in particular her father, was so incredible. Understanding her love for the road and to be free out there is so easy to understand knowing how much her childhood was shaped by it. it’s so alien to me having grown up in the same house never really exploring much of my own country.
My favourite part of the book was how Steinem would introduce friends in her life, that she’d met through various campaign work, and talk about the impact that they had on her life. The one that particularly moved me was her relationship with Wilma. She’s such an incredible person and has been through so many challenges throughout her life. It was amazing to know that Wilma had ended up in the one place she was always destined to be. She was such a strong and courageous woman and the actions she made really have inspired me.
If you want people to listen to you, you have to listen to them,
If you hope people will change how they live, you have to know how they live,
If you want people to see you, you have to sit down with them eye-to-eye.
I think one of the reasons I enjoyed the book so much as it showed Steinem’s impact on such key events in American modern history. Her relationship with the Kennedy’s, Martin Luther King and even so recent as the Clinton/Obama election campaign, really show how much of a force she really was and still continues to be. I loved listening to her interpretation of these events first hand, rather than from my knowledge of them through second-hand accounts in textbooks. Even right the way down to her articles on Ho Chi Minh during the Vietnam War and how important they were, and yet we never learn about them in textbooks. She changed my perspective on so many things and that truly is incredible.
“We have long known that rape has been a way of terrorizing us and keeping us in subjection. Now also that we have participated, although unwittingly, in the rape of our minds.”
– Gerda Lener, in ‘My Life On The Road’
One key part of the book, that I actually highlighted, was when Steinem is talking about Martin Luther King’s iconic 1963 Washington march. Now it wasn’t about King, nor about his event, but in fact about Malcolm X:
Malcolm X had been in Washington for that historic 1963 march. He stayed in the hotel suite of actor and activist Ossie Davis, who spoke at the march, and made sure Dr. King knew he was there in support. But as his daughter explained, “He also knew his presence would have disrupted or split the focus – and he was a supporter of the big picture.”
This particular quote stuck with me as for my A-level dissertation in history I had to write about whether I thought the Black Civil Rights Movement in America was unified or not. This quote would have given me all of my answers: yes.
This book has taught me so much about so many topics. A part of me wants to read it again to make sure I haven’t missed anything out! I expect there were many aspects of Steinem’s life she didn’t include that would have been just as interesting. She is a woman that has lived an incredible life and was able to tell the tale. It makes me hope that my life will be able to be told in such an incredible way by the time I am her age. Her achievements are second to none and she really deserves much more credit than she gets. After studying an entire module on feminism last semester not once did her name come up. She, for me, is the icon of the modern feminist movement and deserves that title.
I strongly recommend you read her book to truly understand the influence this remarkable woman has had on the world we live in. If you’ve read it, let me know what you think!