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Travel

Gloria Steinem’s Life on the Road

Iconic activist and writer GLORIA STEINEM’s latest book, My Life on the Road, offers an illuminating account of a lifetime in pursuit of social change. Here, she shares typically brilliant observations about what travel taught her

Lifestyle
FEMALE FIGUREHEAD
Steinem gained recognition as a spokeswoman for the American feminist movement during the late ’60s and early ’70s
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THE ROAD TRIP

I wasn’t on a Kerouac road trip, or rebelling before settling down, or even traveling for one cause. At first, I was a journalist following stories, then a sometime worker in political campaigns and movements, and most consistently an itinerant feminist organizer. I became a person whose friends and hopes were as spread out as my life. It just felt natural that the one common element in that life was the road.
WHO RUN THE WORLD
Steinem was the co-founder of Ms. magazine, alongside activist Dorothy Pitman-Hughes

THE LIFE LESSON

Fortunately, traveling and speaking took me to audiences full of down-home common sense. When a reporter raised the question of my looks as more important than anything I could possibly have to say, for example, an older woman rose in the audience. ‘Don’t worry, honey,’ she said to me comfortingly. ‘It’s important for someone who could play the game – and win – to say: The game isn’t worth s**t.’
BETTER TOGETHER
Maya Angelou and Steinem on their way to the March on Washington, August 27, 1983

THE TAKE-AWAY

More reliably than anything else on earth, the road will force you to live in the present.
POWER OF SPEECH
Steinem addresses the crowd at a fundraiser and rally for California State Senate candidate Catherine O’Neill

THE MUST-SEES

There are natural gifts of an on-the-road life. For instance, witnessing the Northern Lights in Colorado, or walking under a New Mexico moon, bright enough to reveal the lines in my palm, or hearing the story of a solitary elephant in a Los Angeles zoo reunited with an elephant friend of many years before, or finding myself snowed into Chicago with a fireplace, a friend, and a reason to cancel everything.
SIGN OF THE TIMES
The celebrated feminist protesting against pornography through Times Square in 1979

A JOURNEY SHARED

Perhaps because women are seen as good listeners, I find that a traveling woman – perhaps especially a traveling feminist – becomes a kind of celestial bartender. People say things they wouldn’t share with a therapist. As I became more recognizable as part of a movement that gives birth to hope in many people’s lives, I became the recipient of even more stories from women and men.

The people featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown.