By: Paul Adams – Staff Writer
Gloria Steinem once said, “Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It’s about making life more fair for women everywhere. It’s not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It’s about baking a new pie.”
Recently, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize honored feminist icon Gloria Steinem with its biggest honor of the night, the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award. The prestigious award recognizes authors whose body of work uses the power of literature to foster peace, social justice and global understanding. Past honorees include Louise Erdrich, Wendell Berry, Tim O’Brien and Barbara Kingsolver.
“Gloria Steinem’s words have changed the world, not only opening horizons for the female half of the world’s population but also opening the hearts and minds of men to the issues women have faced from the beginning of time. Her work reflects the issues that have been the focus of winning Dayton Literary Peace Prize books over the last decade: issues of race, class, gender and their connections to violence,” said Sharon Rab, founder and co-chair of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation, in the Dayton Literary Peace Prize’s official press release.
The Dayton Literary Peace Prize began in 2006 and is currently the only U.S. literary award dedicated to raising awareness about the power of literature to bring about peace. In addition to the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, other prizes include the Lifetime Achievement Award, Fiction Winner and Runner-up, Non-Fiction Winner and Runner-up, as well as Finalists.
According to the Peace Prize website, “Nominated works should focus on peace: increasing understanding between and among people as individuals or within and between families, communities, nations, ethnic groups, cultures and religions. Works should have enduring literary value and should appeal to a variety of audiences.”
Steinem is a social activist, writer, editor, lecturer and Toledo, Ohio, native. Many feminist scholars cite Steinem as the founder of the second wave of feminism.
Whereas the first-wave of feminism took place in the 19th and 20th centuries and focused on women’s rights to vote and own property, the second-wave of feminism occurred from the 1960s to the ’‘80s and tackled inequalities such as sexual and social norms, reproductive rights, racial discrimination, workplace discrimination, domestic violence and pornography.
Steinem rose to public prominence in 1963 with her legendary expose on New York City’s Playboy Club, for which she worked undercover as a Playboy “bunny.” In 1969, Steinem published an article, “After Black Power, Women’s Liberation” for New York Magazine, which solidified Steinem as a national feminist leader. In 1972, Steinem spearheaded the launch of the groundbreaking feminist magazine Ms. Steinem is also a founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus and Women’s Media Center.
The feminist icon has published many works. Her first collection of articles and essays, “Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions,” has become a staple in the feminist world, selling nearly half a million copies since its publication in 1983. Other influential works include “Marilyn: Norma Jean” (1986), “Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem” (1992), “Moving Beyond Words: Age, Rage, Sex, Power, Money, Muscles – Breaking the Boundaries of Genders” (1993) and “Doing Sixty & Seventy” (2006).
University of Dayton assistant professor of philosophy and Director of Women’s and Gender Studies Program Rebecca Whisnant, Ph.D., was pleased to hear Steinem was being recognized in the Dayton area.
“Gloria Steinem is a fearless feminist leader who has inspired millions of people to defend their own rights and the rights of others,” Whisnant said. “That she is being honored with this award underlines the fact that women’s rights are essential not only in and of themselves, but for peace, security and a livable human future.”
Since the 1960s, Steinem has been working to bake that new pie, and with the release of her first book in over a decade, “My Life on the Road,” it’s clear she’s not close to being done.
Photo of Gloria Steinem at the Women’s Action Alliance, January 12, 1972 courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.