Did you know that March is Women’s History Month? In the United States, Women’s History Month traces its origins back to the first International Women’s Day in 1911, which then turned into Women’s History Week when President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation declaring March 8, 1980 as National Women’s History Week. This eventually developed into Women’s History Month when Congress passed Public Law 100-9, officially making March 1987 Women’s History Month, which then in turn led to additional resolutions in the years that followed to grant future presidents the authority to declare every March as Women’s History Month. The Katharine Brush Library is sharing in the celebration this year with our That’s What She Said display on the second floor. This display highlights quotes by women activists, scientists, politicians, and artists who have paved the way for women today and showcases books by and about some of these women, including Gloria Steinem, Hillary Clinton, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Feminist and women’s rights advocate Gloria Steinem marked a milestone on Tuesday, March 25th, when she turned 80 years old. A journalist and freelance writer during the 1960s, Gloria Steinem published her first “serious” article (as she would later describe the assignment) in 1962 on the way in which women are forced to choose between having a career and getting married and having a family. The following year, Gloria went undercover as a Playboy bunny in the New York Playboy Club to learn about the working conditions and sexual exploitation of Playboy bunnies. Her investigative report, written under the title “A Bunny’s Tale”, was published in Show magazine and turned into a movie in the 1980s. In 1969, she attended and wrote about an abortion speak-out in New York for New York Magazine. Gloria Steinem herself had had an abortion when she was 22 and this rally encouraged her to take a professional activist stance on abortion rights. She campaigned for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) along with other social and legal reforms that would help women and promote equality.
In 1972, Gloria Steinem co-founded the feminist driven Ms. Magazine. Originally intended as a special issue of New York Magazine, Ms. Magazine received so much support through written letters from women and purchase sales that it became a regular issue magazine. The magazine is still published quarterly and continues to focus on women’s issues, although it has been run by the Feminist Majority Foundation since 2001. The Katharine Brush Library is highlighting Ms. Magazine as part of our 1st floor library display on Gloria Steinem. Help us mark Gloria’s 80th birthday and her contribution to women’s rights by reading one of the books on or by her and viewing the covers of selected Ms. Magazines from over the past 40+ years.
If you examine the front cover article titles close enough, you will notice that many of the issues women were dealing with in the 1970s and 1980s are still ones we are working to resolve today. These problems include balancing career and family, domestic violence, body image issues, sexual harassment, and breaking down prescribed gender roles. One other interesting tidbit: Did you know that the 1st issue of Ms. Magazine in 1972 ran the headline “Wonder Woman for President”? Here it is 2014 and there still has yet to be a female president!