My Life on the Road is a traveler’s journey like no other, and Gloria Steinem, feminist icon, 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient (President Obama called her a “champion notice-er”), journalist, organizer and activist, is your unique guide.
As a child from Toledo, Ohio, Steinem accompanied her father across the country whenever the spirit—and the need to earn money—moved him. Her mother, suffering from depression and unable to continue her own career, taught Steinem the painful price a woman could pay for staying put and isolated. Leading us on her road trips as a child and later as an activist and organizer, Steinem attaches faces and stories to the many reasons she loves and learns from it all. At 81, she is still at it.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Smith College, Steinem began her global education with a two-year fellowship in India. Here she learned the value of community. Traveling on trains with women who had little but shared everything, Steinem became part of their “talking circles,” where “listeners can speak, speakers can listen, facts can be debated, and empathy can create trust and understanding.” In this age of Twitter, email and texting, she cautions us not to forget the irreplaceable value of face-to-face dialogue in a shared space.
What makes Steinem such a credible activist and organizer for human rights is her ability to listen to and learn from others. For example, she learns from Native Americans that Ben Franklin used the Iroquois Confederacy as a model for the U.S. Constitution (except the Founding Fathers left out women). She asks, what else didn’t we learn in school?
If at the end of this inspiring trip, you aren’t inclined to share her wanderlust, you may at least see your own world—and opportunities for improving it—differently. As Steinem says, “We have to behave as if everything we do matters—because sometimes it does.”