Book Review: Gloria Steinem’s “My Life on the Road”

Hallelujah! I finally finished “My Life on the Road” by Gloria Steinem, which I have had since my birthday last year. What makes this book so special to me – first and foremost- is that it is signed by THE Gloria Steinem, someone I have idolized growing up. Since the physical book is basically sacred to me, I think I was scared to open the book to actually read it but I did and….it did not disappoint!IMG_5082

The beginning of the book is Gloria’s tale of growing up with her father working as a traveling (and struggling) antiques salesman, in which she would travel with him in his car throughout the U.S. Meanwhile, her mother stayed at home and struggled with mental illness. As privileged as she was and still is, I was surprised at how humble her beginnings and how her time on the road with her father influenced her. Gloria would later chronicle her own many journeys throughout the U.S. as she gave speeches at universities and organized events.

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Gloria Steinem’s autograph. 

Many experiences (unsurprisingly) include her talking about how she was not taken seriously and disrespected. During the Lyndon Johnson administration, on the way to an event for Bobby Kennedy two famous writers in a cab in NYC with Gloria leaned across one another to say “You know how every year there’s a pretty girl who comes to New York and pretends to be a writer? Well, Gloria is this year’s pretty” (139). This is just one of many examples in which Gloria was mistreated due to her gender. We all know, of course, that she is no pretty face. Ironically, she went on to break barriers for women everywhere.

What I also liked is what Gloria spent the final pages of her book on – the plight of Native Americans and the successes of her best friend, Wilma Mankiller, who was the first woman to lead the Cherokee Nation in 1985. This was a touching tribute to her friend that was with until her last breath, heaving fought many years recovering from a car accident and then succumbing to pancreatic cancer.

Between just Gloria and Wilma alone, there seemed so many possibilities as to what they could do, especially when together. Gloria was a women’s rights crusader who made feminism mainstream. Wilma was a true warrior spent her live improving health care and education for Native Americans. Both Gloria and Wilma were recipients of the Presidential Medals of Freedom. By the end of the book, you are left with the hopefully message that yes, life is a journey, and you really are free to make it your own. This may mean hitting the road and organizing events like Gloria, or finding passion at home. Whatever it is though, you should follow the path you love.

What’s your passion?

 

Summer’s Eve: Not Giving Me the Cleanest Feeling

Watching TV one night, a Summer’s Eve commercial came on that stunned me. If you do not know what Summer’s Eve is, it is a brand that creates feminine hygiene products. In the commercial, you see a woman getting ready in a bathroom while her husband is showering. She quips that instead of bathing with a typical cleansing wash, he is actually showering with a product “perfectly formulated for a woman’s ‘v.'” This in turn causes the man to freak out because what is worse than showering with PH balanced soap that is meant for a woman’s vagina (hence the “v” because no one would ever dare say vagina on television)?

The freak out caused by using this gentle wash forces the man to take on macho pursuits, from chopping up wood with his bare hands to mowing the lawn, to even pulling a car rigged by a rope with his own teeth. Nothing is apparently more emasculating than using a vaginal wash. When he is done with these macho tasks, he crushes a beer can on his head and his partner tells him “that was close.” Yes, so close to crushing his manly self!

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The commercial’s slogan. There is supposed to be “girl power” vibe but it misses the mark.

What bothered me about this commercial was, firstly, that she mentions a vagina as a woman’s “v.” Reading other peoples comments on how they wish they could use the correct anatomical word instead, I think that what I did not like the most is that it sounded plain stupid. What woman calls their vagina their “v?” Not me, at least. Why not lady parts instead?

The other thing I did not like, and probably the most outrageous part of the ad, was that so much focus was placed on the man and not the woman! This is an advertisement that tries to appeal to women by…telling them that men are “sissies” if they use a vaginal wash? We already live in a culture that tells men that they are “pussies” AKA people with vaginas AKA women AKA weak people if they are feminine, and yet we have an advertisement for a product directed at women pointing this out.

I truly believe this advertisement was thought up by a group of men that thought it was funny. Playing it over for my dad to watch, he chuckled. The male actor in the commercial had some silly parts to be sure, but as a whole, I am not sure if Summer’s Eves’ marketing team understands their buyers. To watch the video, click here!