My Life on the Road – Gloria Steinem
“Gloria Steinem had an itinerant childhood. Every fall, her father would pack the family into the car and they would drive across the country, in search of their next adventure. The seeds were planted: Steinem would spend much of her life on the road, as a journalist, organizer, activist, and speaker. In vivid stories that span an entire career, Steinem writes about her time on the campaign trail, from Bobby Kennedy to Hillary Clinton; her early exposure to social activism in India; organizing ground-up movements in America; the taxi drivers who were “vectors of modern myths” and the airline stewardesses who embraced feminism; and the infinite contrasts, the “surrealism in everyday life” that Steinem encountered as she travelled back and forth across the country. With the unique perspective of one of the greatest feminist icons of the 20th and 21st centuries, here is an inspiring, profound, enlightening memoir of one woman’s life-long journey.”
This was the first book I read for the Our Shared Shelf book club. Whilst I was excited to start the book club, I found this book hard to read and it certainly took me longer than a month. As I generally only read fiction for pleasure it took me a while to get into this book.
I am so glad I persevered though. For those who haven’t heard of Gloria Steinem before, and I hadn’t, Gloria Steinem is a journalist, feminist, political activist, and magazine founder. She was born in 1934 and has traveled internationally as an organiser and spokeswoman for a multiple of causes. She has been involved in many presidential elections and has been known to share a great number of equality beliefs.
My Life on the Road is a great book which shares her experiences throughout her life. Whilst the premise is how life on the road has molded her life and career, it follows the revolutionary movement of equality.
This book has only seven chapters which work as a starting point for how each chapter will flow; My Father’s Footsteps, Talking Circles, Why I Don’t Drive, One Big Campus, When the Political is Personal, Surrealism in Everyday Life and What Once Was Can be Again. The book does not run chronologically, but rather flows as memories are grouped together.
Taking the first chapter, My Fathers Footstep’s, we learn about Gloria’s childhood. Her father found it hard to stay in place and would constantly pick up the family and drive cross country. On route he would buy antiques and sell them at the next town, this would continue as a way to fund their adventure. As a child Gloria longed for a home, however, as she got older she found she had more in common with her father than she had presumed.
Some such as ‘Why I don’t drive’ have many small anecdotes exploring the people Gloria meets throughout her life and the stories that have stuck with her. Stories that scream equality in the face of none. It was a woman taxi driver who stated to Gloria and her friend Flo Kennedy that “Honey, if men could get pregnant, abortion would be sacrament!” (Steinen, G. 2015, pg. 86). This statement stuck with Gloria and is well known among her readers.
Overall the book makes you question how equality currently works in your society and you find a deep appreciation for those that fought for the rights you currently hold. I really enjoyed how the book was set up and it felt like a friend recounting their life to me.
I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to broaden their knowledge of all things equality, or for those who have many questions and would like some answers.I also feel it would be a great starting point for anyone who has no prior opinions on the equality fight.