Gloria Steinem has not forgotten the day when, as a young journalist, she was kicked out of the bar of a posh hotel, the Plaza. “Unaccompanied women are absolutely not allowed here”, then the director of the establishment informs him. In 1960s New York, a woman sitting alone in such places is frowned upon, even suspicious. She can explain to him that she is waiting for a celebrity to interview her, but she is escorted outside, under the gaze of the curious. A month later, he returns for another interview. The same humiliating scenario happens again, but as he prepares for the incident, he scolds the director, reminds him that it is a public place, asks him if he is afraid that it will compete with the calls that his employees kindly supply. his clients… The man is in a pitiful retreat. A sense of well-being came over her then, she says in her book, “An inner revolution”, which has just been published by HarperCollins. In this book, he mixes reflections and personal memories. Their goal: to help women facing sexist stereotypes and the glass ceiling to regain their self esteem “.
Gloria Steinem has fought all her life against social injustice, whatever it may be. In New York, she is a star like Jane Fonda, with whom she founded the Women’s Media Center in 2005. People recognize her on the street, come to talk to her about her experiences, which she says is writing this book. “ I was luckyhe tells us in his soft voice: As a child, I did not go to school, where girls were taught the rules of patriarchal domination. My parents did not have a fixed address (his father was a traveling salesman, editor’s note), so I was educated at home, educated by them. And then, very soon, I fell in love with Louisa May Alcott, the author of “Dr. March’s Four Daughters.” She was a feminist before her time. »
For a long time I thought I would end up homeless because I wasn’t married.
In the mid-1950s, fresh out of college, she won a scholarship that allowed her to spend two years in India. “ I was mainly going there to avoid getting married, which was the norm for young girls coming out of college back then. I had a fiancé but I didn’t feel like spending my life with him, so I took the first opportunity to escape. “. There she befriended Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay (1903-1988), an activist known for persuading Mahatma Gandhi to include women in the civil disobedience movement.” I can still hear myself saying that everything Gandhi learned in life was taught by women. That’s how I realized the strength of the feminist movement, its ability to cause different non-violent revolutions. »
Back in the U.S., she became a freelance journalist and recounted her “undercover” experience as a “Bunny” waitress, in a sexy bunny outfit, to ShowMagazine, a now defunct arts magazine. ” My editor had asked me to infiltrate the first Playboy Club in New York. Since I had no qualifications, I didn’t think I would be hired, but the job is so terrible that they couldn’t find any candidates, so they took me. Put on my 10cm heels, I could barely breathe in the bustier, and it lasted a month !“, she smiles today. Entitled “A Bunny’s Tale” (“I was a Playboy Bunny”), the article, published in 1963, was a huge success: it was the subject of a television series and allowed Gloria to emerge both as a writer and a feminist leader.” But I wasn’t rolling in gold. For a long time I thought I would end up homeless (“baglady”) because I wasn’t married: that’s what women of my generation thought. “.
Creation of the first feminist magazine in 1972
Gloria then moved – with a roommate – to an apartment on the Upper East Side, which she later bought and where she still lives today, alone, surrounded by her memories. In her living room she founded “Ms.”, the first feminist magazine created, in 1972. The title of the publication is a contraction of “Mrs. (Madame) and Miss (Mademoiselle) which allows women not to be reduced to their marital status, which men invariably called “Mr.” to escape. “ It was the first nationally distributed newsstand newspaper owned, written and controlled by women. In this, its launch and its influence have been very important in the transformation of society. But financially, our situation was precarious. Since we did not fill our pages with cooking recipes or other practical advice for the housewife, which was the norm in all ducks, we had no advertisements. It was necessary to transform the shareholding structure of the title into a foundation in order to receive donations “.
Aging is both a worry and a relief
Five years after the launch of the MeToo movement, today it says ” optimistic on feminism in America. Despite the Supreme Court defeat on abortion. And despite Trump, whom he said he met once, a long time ago. ” He had come to see him, he among others, to raise funds and finance our organization. I remember watching him sing my praises so excessively that it had nothing to do with reality, but he does it with everyone. And in the end, he wrote us a check for $500 – that really wasn’t very generous ! »
She says she’s convinced America is moving away from him. ” It is important to remember that he was only elected by a third of the electorate, and that he would never have succeeded if he had not become a television celebrity. Trump is an accident of history and the media. Now, at 88, he says he has no regrets. “ Aging is both a worry and a relief. It’s the realization that the end is near, but a release that the pressure of motherhood is completely gone. I never wanted to have children, maybe because of the image of my mother who was not well, but I inevitably felt the pressure of society. Today, at my age, all that is far away, and that’s a good thing “.
Source : Le JDD