For many Americans in the 1970s and 1980s, Gloria Steinem was the public face of feminism. A journalist and political activist, she is best known as the founding editor of Ms. magazine—a position she held from 1972 until 1987. For over 40 years, she has lent her energies to innumerable initiatives on behalf of women's rights and social justice.

Born March 25, 1934, into a middle-class but downwardly mobile family in Toledo, Ohio, Steinem grew up under difficult circumstances. After her parents divorced when she was 11 years old, she found herself charged with caring for her mother, who suffered from bouts of mental illness. The experience of living alone with her mother in impoverished conditions—at times, their home was infested with rats—profoundly affected Steinem. ...

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