Past Events Gallery :: Gloria Steinem, Dorothy Pitman Hughes & Jennifer Baumgardner

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Rebecca WalkerCame to Eckerd March 5th, 2008

Gloria Steinem is a writer, lecturer, editor, and feminist activist. She travels in this and other countries as an organizer and lecturer and is a frequent media spokeswoman on issues of equality. She is particularly interested in the shared origins of sex and race caste systems, gender roles and child abuse as roots of violence, non-violent conflict resolution, the cultures of indigenous peoples, and organizing across boundaries for peace and justice.

In 1972, she co-founded Ms. magazine, and remained one of its editors for fifteen years. She continues to serve as a consulting editor for Ms., and was instrumental in the magazine's recent move to join and be published by the Feminist Majority Foundation. In 1968, she had helped to found New York magazine, where she was a political columnist and wrote feature articles. As a freelance writer, she was published in Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, and women's magazines as well as for publications in other countries. She has produced a documentary on child abuse for HBO, a feature film about the death penalty for Lifetime, and been the subject of profiles on Lifetime and Showtime.

Her books include the bestsellers Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, Moving Beyond Words, and Marilyn: Norma Jean, on the life of Marilyn Monroe. Her writing also appears in many anthologies and textbooks, and she was an editor of Houghton Mifflin's The Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History.

Ms. Steinem helped to found the Women's Action Alliance, a pioneering national information center that specialized in nonsexist, multiracial children's education, and the National Women's Political Caucus, a group that continues to work to advance the numbers of pro-equality women in elected and appointed office at a national and state level. She was president and co-founder of Voters for Choice, a pro-choice political action committee for twenty-five years, then with the Planned Parenthood Action Fund when it merged with VFC for the 2004 elections. She was also co-founder and serves on the board of Choice USA, a national organization that supports young pro-choice leadership and works to preserve comprehensive sex education in schools. She was the founding president of the Ms. Foundation for Women, a national multi-racial, multi-issue fund that supports grassroots projects to empower women and girls, and also a founder of its Take Our Daughters to Work Day, a first national day devoted to girls that has now become an institution here and in other countries. Now, she is working with the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College on a project to document the grassroots origins of the U.S. women's movement.

As a writer, Ms. Steinem has received the Penney-Missouri Journalism Award, the Front Page and Clarion awards, National Magazine awards, an Emmy Citation for excellence in television writing, the Women's Sports Journalism Award, the Lifetime Achievement in Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Writers Award from the United Nations, and most recently, the University of Missouri School of Journalism Award for Distinguished Service in Journalism.

She also received the first Doctorate of Human Justice awarded by Simmons College, the Bill of Rights Award from the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, the National Gay Rights Advocates Award, the Liberty award of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Ceres Medal from the United Nations, and a number of honorary degrees. Parenting magazine selected her for its Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995 for her work in promoting girls' self-esteem, and Biography magazine listed her as one of the 25 most influential women in America. In 1993, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York. She has been the subject of two biographical television documentaries, and The Education of a Woman, a biography written by Carolyn Heilbrun.

In 1993, her concern with child abuse led her to co-produce and narrate an Emmy Award winning TV documentary for HBO, "Multiple Personalities: The Search for Deadly Memories." With Rosilyn Heller, she also co-produced an original 1993 TV movie for Lifetime, "Better Off Dead," which examined the parallel forces that both oppose abortion and support the death penalty.

Ms. Steinem graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Smith College in 1956, and then spent two years in India on a Chester Bowles Fellowship. She wrote for Indian publications, and was influenced by Gandhian activism.

She has served on the board of trustees of Smith College, as well as the boards of other non-profit and educational foundations. She was a member of the Beyond Racism Initiative, a three-year effort on the part of activists and experts from South Africa, Brazil and the United States to compare the racial patterns of those three countries and to learn cross-nationally.

In the fall of 2000, she married in a Cherokee ceremony David Bale, a South African-born animal rights activist. They divided their time between his home in Southern California and her home in New York City until his death of primary brain lymphoma in December, 2003. She now lives in New York City, and is currently at work on Road to the Heart: America As if Everyone Mattered, a book about her more than thirty years on the road as a feminist organizer. She is also writing for other books and publications and recently co-founded the Women's Media Center.

For nearly 15 years, Fargo-native Jennifer Baumgardner has made her career in New York City as a prominent voice for women and girls, working as a writer, a speaker, and an activist. After a five-year stint as the youngest editor at Ms. (1993-1997), Jennifer began writing for a diverse array of publications, doing investigative pieces for Harper’s and The Nation, exploring stories such as why younger women appear to be less pro-choice and the fact that “rape kits” are routinely lost or rendered inadmissible in sexual assault cases. She has written several commentaries for NPR’s All Things Considered. She also writes for many of the major women’s magazines (including Jane, Glamour, Marie Claire, and Elle), for which she has written about abortion rights, the first female deemed a sexually violent predator, and the Miss America Pageant.

Her first book, Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future, co-authored with colleague Amy Richards, was published in October of 2000. Gloria Steinem, Eve Ensler, and Naomi Wolf (as well as thousands of young women and men who have read it and written to Jen and Amy) enthusiastically endorsed Manifesta. The book garnered dozens of reviews, including The New York Times Book Review, Jane magazine, Brill’s Content, Ms., The Village Voice, The Nation, and The New Republic. Their second book together, Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism was published in 2005 and is now available in bookstores nationwide (FSG). Jennifer’s latest book, Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics (FSG) will be published on February 14, 2007. In it, she tackles her own bisexuality as well as the feminist politics surrounding women who look both ways.

Since 2000, Jennifer and Amy have lectured at more than 200 colleges and high schools including Yale, Harvard, Colgate, the University of North Dakota, the University of Michigan, Mills College, Rutgers, Tulane, Vanderbilt, USC, Swarthmore, Appalachian State, and they were both fellows at Dartmouth in 2004. The near-constant touring inspired them to found Soapbox Inc: Speakers Who Speak Out, a feminist speakers’ bureau that represents two dozen prominent feminist writers and activists such as Katha Pollitt, Gloria Steinem, Irshad Manji, and Rosalind Wiseman.

Jennifer is the editor of a series of feminist classics for Farrar, Straus & Giroux, including Shulamith Firestone’s The Dialectic of Sex (2003) and Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch (2002). Jennifer has written introductions, chapters, and epilogues for several recent books about feminism, including the introduction to a new edition of Alix Kates Shulman's bestselling Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen and (with Amy Richards) to Courtney Love's forthcoming diaries entitled Dirty Blonde. She has also written liner notes for Papa, Don't Lay that S--t on Me, the 2004 Rounder Records reissue of The Women’s Liberation Rock Band’s historic 1972 recording.

Jennifer has worked as a writer and organizer with foundations such as Honor the Earth (an indigenous environmental group), Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the Third Wave Foundation (the only national organization for feminist activists between the ages of 15 and 30). She is a former board member and key fundraiser for the New York Abortion Access Fund (NYAAF) and, through an organization called Haven, hosts women who come to New York from other states in order to get a later-term abortion. Further, she created an “I Had an Abortion” campaign to encourage women (and men) to “come out” about their procedures, of which an element is a film documenting women’s stories of abortion.

Jennifer is a popular pundit and interview guest, including a stint as a regular panelist on the Oxygen Network for women, and appearances on shows from The Oprah Winfrey Show to NPR’s Talk of the Nation. In 2003, the Commonwealth Club of California hailed her in their centennial year as one of six “Visionaries for the 21st Century,” commenting that “in her role as author and activist, [Jennifer has] permanently changed the way people think about feminism…and will shape the next 100 years of politics and culture.” She lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with her toddler, Skuli.

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