The Way Of The Turtle & More Life Lessons From Gloria Steinem

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/ Getty Images.
Gloria Steinem addresses the crowd at a fundraiser and rally for California State Senate candidate Catherine O'Neill at actor Lorne Greene's house on October 15, 1972 in Los Angeles.
Gloria Steinem is the world's most famous feminist — and she's probably held that title since before you were born. Though some try to peg her to a particular "wave" of feminism (usually the second), really, she's been on the cusp of all of it. Wherever women are in need, Steinem acts. Now, at 81 years old, she's as involved as ever.

She even has a book coming out — a memoir entitled My Life on the Road. The hotly anticipated title will be released October 27. Ahead of the date, New Yorker staff writer Jane Kramer (who, in her own right, is a badass feminist) profiled Steinem. The feature is called "Road Warrior," and is a thrilling recap of Steinem's life and work. Reading it, we learned about Steinem's upbringing, her love life, and most importantly, about the countless women whose lives she has changed and who have, in turn, changed hers.

Here are 10 things we didn't know about Steinem until now.

1. Though she had her license in high school, Steinem doesn't drive. Her experiences as a passenger sustain her, she explains in the video below.

2. When Steinem was in college at Smith, she attempted to rescue a turtle by placing it back in the water. Her professor informed her that in doing so, she'd disrupted the turtle's egg-laying process. Now, Steinem operates on an "Ask the turtle," philosophy, meaning that the people in need of help are also the ones who best know what kind of help they need.

3. Steinem's mother was a journalist who suffered what was then considered a "mental break." Now, Steinem has an alternate explanation: Her mother's "spirit had been broken" by unjust conditions for women.

4. The Steinem family was nomadic. Based in Toledo, OH, they traveled south or west every winter, dealing antiques via trailer.

5. Steinem got married once, to David Bale, a British businessman, environmentalist, and the father of actor Christian Bale. Bale died three years after they wed.

6. She spent a lifetime fighting to make marriage an equal union between people. "If I had married when I was supposed to get married, I would have lost my name, my legal residence, my credit rating, many of my civil rights. That’s not true anymore. It’s possible to make an equal marriage," she told Kramer of her first engagement, which she and her fiancé ended.

7. As a young journalist, Steinem embedded herself in the Playboy mansion, posing as a Bunny (she applied and got the job). Afterwards, she battled fierce criticism that her success was predicated on her good looks.

8. Though Steinem does not officially work on political campaigns, she has advocated for Hillary Clinton and volunteered for many others in the past. In 2008, she made the argument that if Barack Obama had been a woman, he wouldn't have won.

9. Steinem ends all of her speeches with the credo: “Lead with love. Low ego, high impact. Move at the speed of trust." She began this tradition after she learned that Black Lives Matter used those principles.

10. In 1957, a doctor in London performed an abortion on Steinem, though it was illegal at the time. Steinem dedicates My Life on the Road to that doctor. "I’ve done the best I could with my life. This book is for you," she writes.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated incorrectly that Gloria Steinem does not join political campaigns. Steinem has in fact volunteered on many political campaigns, but does not work for them in official capacities.
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