As a journalist, social activist, and staunch feminist, Gloria Steinem has been affecting people with her words for decades. Among her many feminist initiatives, Steinem is well-known for helping change the conversation around abortion. She had one herself in London at the age of 22, but didn't talk about it until she covered a "speak-out" in Greenwich Village. After hearing other women share their experiences, Steinem was inspired to talk about her own, and eventually coined the phrase "reproductive freedom.:
As she told The Guardian in 2011, "I think the person who said: 'Honey, if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament' was right. Speaking for myself, I knew it was the first time I had taken responsibility for my own life. I wasn't going to let things happen to me. I was going to direct my life, and therefore it felt positive."
Though Steinem's thoughts on abortion are particularly prescient as the Supreme Court seems set to overturn Roe V. Wade, she's spoken on many more topics. Below are 20 more quotes from Gloria Steinem.
1. “I began to understand that self-esteem isn’t everything; it’s just that there’s nothing without it.”
2. “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”
3. “If girls were raised a little more like boys—if they had more right to say no, to declare boundaries, to develop a strong personal identity, to be angry, to rebel—they would be less likely to be revictimized as adults.”
4. “I think we each come out of the womb with some unique way of looking at the world and if we don't express it, we lose faith in ourselves.
5. “Revolutions that last don’t happen from the top down. They happen from the bottom up.”
6. "Whatever you’ve imagined your limits of strength and daring to be, the strongest woman in the world can inspire you to go beyond them. That’s what champions are for."
7. “Patriarchy in all its forms is still about controlling reproduction, and thus the bodies of women, which is why invading a female body is still less likely to be punished by law than invading private property.”
8. “Once we give up searching for approval we often find it easier to earn respect.”
9. “The first resistance to social change is to say it’s not necessary.”
10. “Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”
11. “Change seems recognizable only after it’s happened, like putting one’s foot down for a familiar stair—and it’s not there.”
12. “We need to remember across generations that there is as much to learn as there is to teach.”
13. “If you are not a feminist, male or female, you are looking at the world with one eye open.”
14. “I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine marriage and a career.”
15. “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn. We are filled with popular wisdom of several centuries just past, and we are terrified to give it up.”
16. “People now ask me if I'm passing the torch. I always explain that no, I'm keeping my torch, thank you very much. And I'm using it to light the torches of others.
Because the truth is that the old image of one person with a torch is part of the problem, not the solution. We each need a torch if we are to see where we're going.
And together, we create so much more light.”
17. “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”
18. “Women have two choices: Either she’s a feminist or a masochist.”
19. “I had this feeling of sudden unity. Something you think that has been only your experience, and maybe your fault, you suddenly realize is incredibly widespread.”
20. “Like art, revolutions come from combining what exists into what has never existed before.”