Here we are! The first review and discussion in the BIRL Book Club! YAY! I have to say, My Life On the Road was perfectly timed and it had absolutely nothing to do with current events. Whoops. The reason I chose it first was because I already had it from seeing Gloria Steinem speak, and in order to get this review out on time I couldn’t wait for the rest of the book list to get to me. Happy accident, though, because it was exactly what I needed to be reading at this exact time.
I started reading it the week before the March on Washington and this book filled me with incredible purpose and incredible drive to keep going on and on and on.
The books speaks on many levels, lest you think this is killjoy feminist drivel. It’s a memoir of Gloria Steinem’s life and career through all of her time traveling the world and the United States. The book is one of those that demands to be read from cover to cover. Don’t skip the dedication, don’t skip the appendage. It’s all good. Every last drop.
The paragraphs that I keep coming back to in my mind are some that I’m going to share here. (And for anyone who has read this book, please tell me what you keep chewing on. There are so many moments that Gloria has lived and thought about and bared witness to and I’m sure you are all chewing on something.)
[When speaking about her mother]
If I pressed and said, “But why didn’t you leave? Why didnt you take my sister and go to New York?” she would say it didn’t matter, that she was lucky to have my sister and me. If I pressed hard enough she would add, “If I’d left, you never would have been born.”
I never had the courage to say: But you would have been born instead.
As a mother I have to work to still have a self. I have to work to not be swallowed up by my children while still doing my best by them. This part breaks me. It is too common that women are trapped by children because they have no choices. Because they have too many. Because they didn’t know there were any other options.
But where this book was its biggest educational win for me, was in explaining the history of intersectional feminism, and how second wave feminism was largely intersectional. BUT that getting the media, at the time largely run by men, to GET IT and run with it, was incredibly difficult. Second wave feminists have been pushing for intersectionality for decades, and our love of boxes has been making that message muddy. Betty Friedan didn’t help either.
I finished this book on the plane home from DC. I read the majority of it in flight, as I think it is best digested. It frustrated me just how much I did not know because women’s issues don’t make the news. It frustrated me how much what we’ve been pushing for we are still pushing for. It made me love Gloria Steinem even more for her ability to talk about her regrets, her mistakes, her personal shortcomings while also paying homage to the many women who helped her along the way. It made me want to listen more. Listen and learn and offer assistance.
If you haven’t read this book, you should read this book. If you have read this book, talk to me about it in comments!