I just finished reading My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem. It’s a collection of stories and anecdotes about her time traveling around the USA as an organizer, fundraising and public speaking to raise awareness for feminism and different political causes and campaigns.
It was really interesting, there are stories about JFK, Bobby Kennedy and MLK, but some of my favourite parts of the book were just little tidbits from random people she had met during her journeys. The point of the book is to encourage people to travel, to meet each other in person, and to get involved with their communities. Basically, to live in the now, as she says The Road forces you to do.
I have been hearing and reading about Gloria Steinem all my life, but I’d never read one of her books before. After this one, I’m excited to go back and read the others.
Some of my favourite excerpts:
“I myself cried when I got angry, then became unable to explain why I was angry in the first place. Later I would discover this was endemic among female human beings. Anger is supposed to be “unfeminine” so we suppress it– until it overflows.”
“Now I know that both the palaces and the movies were fantasies created by Hollywood in the Depression, the only adventures most people could afford. I think of them again whenever I see subway riders lost in paperback mysteries, the kind that Stephen King’s waitress mother once called her “cheap sweet vacations” and so he writes them for her still. I think of them when I see children cramming all five senses into virtual images online, or when I pass a house topped by a satellite dish almost as big as it is, as if the most important thing were the ability to escape.
The travel writer Bruce Chatwin wrote that our nomadic past lives on in our ‘need for distraction, our mania for the new.’ In many languages, even the word for human being is ‘one who goes on migrations.’ Progress itself is a word rooted in a seasonal journey. Perhaps our need to escape into media is a misplaced desire for the journey.”
“She turns out to be a ninety-eight year old former Ziegfeld girl who is on her way to dance in an AIDS benefit on Braodway with her hundred-and-one-year-old friend from chorus girl days- something they’ve been doing since the tragedy of AIDS first appeared. Humbled by this response and looking for advice on my own future now that I’m past seventy, I ask her how she has remained herself all these years. She looks at me as if at a slow pupil. ‘You’re always the person you were when you were born,’ she says impatiently. ‘You just keep finding new ways to express it.'”
Also, loved the dedication:
“This book is dedicated to Dr. John Sharpe of London, who in 1957, a decade before physicians in England could legally perform a abortion for any reason other than the health of the woman, took the considerable risk of referring for an abortion a twenty-two-year old American on her way to India.
Knowing only that she had broken an engagement at home to seek an unknown fate, he said ” You must promise two things. First, you will not tell anyone my name. Second, you will do what you want do with your life.”
Dear Dr. Sharpe, I believe you, who knew the law was unjust, would not mind if I saw this so long after your death.
I’ve done the best I could with my life.
This book is for you.”