on June 15, 1999
This book was my introduction to Gloria Steinem and the beginning of some serious hero-worship. Several of the articles in the book were published before I was even born, and even the ones that weren't are over a decade old now. Amazing--disturbing, too--that so many of the problems and issues she writes about are still realities. However, Steinem has a way of analysing these things with such intelligence and articulating what seems inexpressible, that you finish each essay thinking, at the very least, "Well, thank god." This book is half-history and half-inspiration. She's a great journalist and an awesome activist.
on March 22, 2004
There was often grumbling in certain circles that Gloria Steinem had so much attention paid to her because she was pretty. If that was the only factor, Steinem's popularity would have waned, not because she lost her looks (she never did) but because of the fickleness of the media and the "next pretty face." Steinem is smart, brave, funny and a damn good writer. "Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions", her 1983 book of collected essays proves it in spades.
In early 1993, I had the privilege of seeing Gloria Steinem speak at Mount Holyoke College. I had to take the bus from UMASS to get there, and the place was packed. They closed the doors at one point saying it was too full, but they ended up letting most people in. When Ms. Steinem took the stage, she urged all those who were standing in the back to come up and join her onstage so that they could sit. This is the kindness and warmth that Steinem raidates. Many people in the audience were clutching copies of her books for her to sign. As this was the era of "Revolution from Within," that book was everywhere. But I also saw many copies of "Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions" as well. By then the book was 10 years old, but I can understand why people held onto it. This is a great book of essays written over the years. The book touches upon topics such as abortion rights, Jackie Onassis, Alice Walker, Steinem's college reunion, Steinem's own relationship with her mother and the famous expose of Steinem's undercover work at the Playboy Club in the early 60's. Having a journalism background, Steinem's prose is clear and concise. This is no rhetoric-filled theory-based polemic, but a balanced and fair look at the world from the perspective of an extraordinary woman. Also included in this collection is the wonderfully wry, "If Men Could Menstruate." The second edition of this book has some updated comments from Steinem that reflect on the essays more than a decade after the book was published.
For all those who condemn feminism yet really know nothing about it, read this book. For those who are looking for a book of unique, well-written and enlightening essays, read this book. For those of us who discovered this book long ago and have fond memories, read it again.
on October 30, 1997
I currently work in a Cardiac Surgical Intensive Care setting, and have found this book to be among the best hemodynamic texts available. Its comprehensive presentation of anatomy, technology, and pathophysiology in relation to hemodynamics is arranged very intelligently. What I enjoyed most about this book though was its readability. The language is straightforth and simple without losing any of its meaning, which has lent to its popularity among nursing students performing clinical rotations in the unit. Friends of mine who have borrowed this book invariably purchase their own copy afterwards. It is that good! I reccomend this book to anyone in a field where hemodynamics hold importance.
on October 10, 2006
This review is not a review of the whole book. For focus, it is a review of "Ruth's Song (Because She Could Not Sing It)," a memoir essay written by Gloria Steinem about her mother who suffered from serious mental illness throughout Gloria's entire life. But before I focus on that essay, I want to mention that this book also contains an essay "Alice Walker: Do You Know This Woman? She Knows You" written in 1982 before The Color Purple won the Pulitzer Prize the following year.
If you are trying to decide whether you want to buy this book, pick it up in the book store and read Gloria's essay on her mother's detailed history of mental illnesses. "Write what you know" is a common adage, and it rings true here. If you want to understand what energized Gloria to take on a life of advocacy promoting women's rights and equality, reading this essay will help you easily understand how her personal suffering has given her such robust motivation for so many years to combat the forces Gloria believes led her mother to become mentally disabled, to varying degrees, for all of Gloria's life. Gloria starts by inquiring into the mysteries of what led her uncle and mother to shut down and completely change from the outgoing and incredibly bright people they were in their young adulthood (her uncle a brilliant electrical engineer, and her mother a math teacher who once taught college calculus) to meeker and lower functioning older adults. She notes that the family was concerned about her uncle, but not as engaged in trying to remedy her mother's ailments.
Gloria lives with the hindsight that she did not know in her youth how to possibly help her mother better, "Assuming there to be no other alternative, I took her home and never tried again," and "Perhaps the worst thing about suffering is that it finally hardens the hearts of those around it," and "For many years, I was obsessed with the fear that I would end up in a house like that one in Toledo. Now, I'm obsessed instead with the things I could have done for my mother while she was alive, or the things I should have said to her. I still don't understand why so many, many years passed before I saw my mother as a person, and before I understood that many of the forces in her life were patterns women share." Gloria spent many years growing up with only herself and her mother in the home while her mother suffered from agoraphobia (primarily suffered by women), terrors, delusions and many other cognitive deficiencies. Her mother suffered from depression and other mental roadblocks, spent time in sanatoriums, was drug dependent, and could not work outside the home.
Please, please read it if you or any woman you care about has either suffered from mental illness, or if they "became a different person" at some point in their life. I have a female relative that all my uncles could not understand why she "changed so drastically" and fell into never ending depression, drug dependency and general dysfunction. But I understand many of the likely reasons for those declines, declines that our extended familial environment contributed to more than most of my family ever realized or were willing to acknowledge.
Gloria's mother, Ruth, sold her only home so Gloria could go to college. She encouraged both Gloria and her sister to leave home for "four years of independence she herself had never had." Before certain events happened to Ruth, Ruth was one of the first female journalists and went to dances when her religion and community told her the music was sinful. Why does Gloria share this private and painful family history? I believe she wants to help teach other women how to tell their own stories. Each woman is best at telling her own story. But when they cannot or do not sing their own song, sometimes others sing it for them, to share their beauty. Gloria concludes with, "At least we're now asking questions about all the Ruths in all our family mysteries. If her song inspires that, I think she would be the first to say: It was worth the singing."
A beautiful coincidence: my mother's mother was a musician named Ruth.
on February 16, 2013
About two months ago, during a class simulation, I was in the hallway speaking with several male classmates. Despite that fact that I had done my research and was an active participant, 90% of the men I was with completely ignored me, despite my overt attempts to join the conversation. It was so bad, in fact, that all but one of them walked away while I was still talking. Infuriated, I clapped my hands loudly and demanded that they listen to me. Had I not just been treated in such a way by a group of faculty members a few weeks before, I may have let it slide for the sake of civility, but I was tired of men acting as if they were placating me by allowing me to speak. They may as well have patted me on the head and told me to be a good little girl and play nice.
I've always been very outspoken and assertive, so I'm not entirely sure how I made it to 30 without reading Gloria Steinem, but here I am, reading her for the first time. To be honest, I don't know that I would have fully appreciated her or her work ten years ago, so maybe it's for the best that I read her now! I've always thought of Ms. Steinem as an amazing, confident, trailblazing woman. I had no idea that she had a massive fear of public speaking, overanalyzed what she had said for days on end, and was constantly seeking approval. As someone who can identify with and is overcoming these same traits, it her ability to succeed and make such a long-lasting and positive change fills me with hope.
Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions is a book of essays, most of which were written decades ago, and include relevant updates to keep the reader up to date on what the current state of affairs are. As Ms. Steinem points out in her introduction, some of these updates are depressing in that not much progress has been made. The essays range from how the transexual movement has affected gender roles, her time as a a Playboy Bunny, an essay about her mother and what would happen if men menstruated.
While all of the essays covered very serious topics, they were made more interesting with a type of humor that was not haha funny, but instead amusing in a this-is-real-life way. It made the book much more approachable and less preachy. In fact, the book didn't seem preachy or "feministy" at all and yet I finished the book wanting to jump up and shout about how great it is to be a woman.
One of the things that Ms. Steinem emphasized in the book is that women tend to become more liberal as they get older, and thus are more likely to become "activists" later on in life. This is not because young women are failing to understand the importance of gender equality, but rather that until they are beginning (or even halfway through) their careers, it is not something they encounter in such a blatant way. Perhaps this is true, because while I've always believed in and supported gender equality, it wasn't until the last year or two that I started to realize that I was on the unequal end of things.
on July 10, 2003
This was the first book I read by Gloria Steinem (but not the last!), and I loved it!! I took it on vacation and found it to be the perfect book for a trip. You can read one essay at a time or a few of them in one sitting. They range in tone and style from the more humorous to the dead serious. And reading about Steinem's experience as a playboy bunny, and then Hugh Hefner's response to her expose on Playboy was worth the price of the book. This book is for anyone and everyone, it's awesome!
on May 16, 2000
This was one of the first "feminist" books I read, so for me, even though a lot of the material had appeared elsewhere previously, it was a topical collection. I liked just about every piece in the book and often use copies of "If Men Could Menstruate" in the men's groups I facilitate. I hope a day comes when the entire book is outdated, but that day seems far away.
on September 5, 2015
I had forgotten that Gloria Steinem was, first and foremost, a journalist until I read this book. Some of the essays seem quaintly dated; others evoke nostalgia for a more activist time when anything seemed possible. But many of her thoughts seem as relevant today, if not as radical, as they did when she wrote them down. Good reading for anyone who wonders, "Whatever happened to my feminist dreams?"
A couple of notes: I'd heard that once upon a time, she a Playboy bunny, but didn't realize she did it in order to engage in investigative reporting. That pieces was a fantastic way to start the book.
Also, I was lucky enough to meet her when I was a freshman at Yale College. She'd promised she would come speak to the Yale Political Union if Morey's -- a now defunct private eating club -- ever opened its membership to women. It was a promise she never thought she'd have to keep. But I was in the first wave of women members. Also, I'd cynically joined the Libertarian Party, along with a couple of friends, when they came wooing. They were about to lose their status as a party because, under Yale PU rules, they had to have at least 25 members. I made a cynical bargain with them: I'd join if I could eat dinner with Gloria Steinem and a couple of other interesting people who were coming to speak that fall (each party could send three representatives to eat dinner with each speake)r. They accepted, and I ate dinner with Gloria Steinem, Russell Baker, and either Yasser Arafat or the first PLO observer at the United Nations -- I don't remember which one.
on June 27, 2012
As a new feminist, I knew that this collection of essays by Gloria Steinam was a must-read, along with other classic feminist texts (Simone de Beauvoir, etc.) and modern feminist writings (Jessica Valenti). I started this in December and periodically got in and out of reading it, sometimes because the essays were way over my head and sometimes because I didn't want to reach the end just yet. Steinam is brilliant in a way that I hope to be some day, insightful and open and witty and so amazingly right about things that I wonder how long it took her to gather her most brilliant writings and out them into a comprehensive and very well-organized book. A breakdown of the contents:
"I Was a Playboy Bunny"- this is a must-read for anyone buying into the edia crap about how the Playboy bunnies were glamorous and well-off. Steinam's account wasn't thrilling or exciting, there were no horrifying events, but it was honest and it exposed a world that was tiring, irritating, cheap, sleazy, and completely patriarchal. I read this whole essay in one breath, I loved her details and how she didn't seem to have a bias. She just told us the facts and let us decide for ourselves.
"Ruth's Song (Because She Could Not Sing It)"- I was nearly brought to tears by the end of this essay. It says so much about how women's mental illness was viewed in post-Freudian times and how Steinam's mother, once smart and capable, had descended into something that no one at the time understood. This must have been very emotional to write.
"In Praise of Women's Bodies"- Girls, this is SO important to read. It brought a smile to my face and it made me start loving myself, flaws and all.
"Men and Women Talking"- Very insightful. I learned about a lot of these little differences and nuances in psychology, but they always seemed to be from the man's point of view. This also serves as a self-help section, letting women know that being assertive and loud is just fine and we should in fact do it more often. Very helpful.
"Erotica vs. Pornography"- This one was hard to read but it really resonated with me. Modern feminists are very sex-positive and I love that, but it has always been hard for me to ignore the damaging misogynistic effects of pornography of all kinds. It may seem dated to some feminists but I definitely agree with Steinam's ideas.
The whole "Five Women" section- I don't know how this didn't win some sort of writing prize. This section was so well-written and I will never forget reading it. Five important women in our culture- Marilyn Monroe, Pat Nixon, Linda Lovelace, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and Alice Walker- are examined and revered, because their stories are so widely told but not in the right way or from the right perspective. I love these women, I feel so much closer to them now. I don't know if anyone but Steinam could instill that much emotion in me.
"The International Crime of Genital Mutilation"- This one is also a tough pill to swallow, but it is very important. We don't think about these things enough. This will get you thinking.
"If Men Could Menstruate"- Hilarious, but also the one that fully proved to me that Steinam is a genius.
Every woman and girl (and man, I think) needs to read at least a few of these essays. Feminism is still relevant and still needed. These essays were written decades ago but many of the issues persist today. I'm not saying some of the ideas (especially about trans* issues) are not dated, but they are still worth the time to read. I really enjoyed this collection.
on December 7, 2012
gloria is an engaging writer who presents anthropological, psychological, social, and gender arguments and observations only the ignorant/arrogant could argue with. i liked some of her accounts more than others, but never boring! -a really decent read!