In this conversation, Gloria Steinem — the 79-year-old activist, author and 2013 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom — reflects on her personal life growing up in Toledo, Ohio, and her political awakening during the most radical decade of the 20th century, while discussing the obstacles and opportunities that continue to shape the lives of American families today.
Steinem has spent her life working for racial justice and women’s rights. In this interview, she speaks humorously and insightfully on everything from politics to pop culture. She reveals that the backlash she received for supporting Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid was “one of the worst experiences of my life,” and criticizes a history of feminism that forgets the deep alliances between early civil rights and women’s rights activists. Whether she’s defending Kim Kardashian from public vitriol or calling out the antiquated sexual assault policies of the U.S. military, Gloria Steinem is always engaged, always fighting for what she believes in. The interview was conducted by Salamishah Tillet, an Associate Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. Tillet blogs for The Nation, and is the author of Sites of Slavery: Citizenship and Racial Democracy in the Post-Civil Rights Imagination. She is also the co-founder of A Long Walk Home, a non-profit organization that uses art therapy and the visual and performing arts to end violence against girls and women. Cover design by Adil Dara Kim.