Gloria Steinem: Defender of Wonder Woman By Kevin Hofmann Director of the Office of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion Growing up my parents were close friends with the Delors: Cal and Joanne. Cal was my father’s best man at his wedding and Joanne was the first feminist I knew. A few times a year we would get together and have dinner and talk and laugh. They would either come to visit us in northwest Detroit or we would go see them at their home in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood. Those dinners were great because the Delors would bring a dish to pass and talk about equality and justice. Mrs. Delor saw everything through her feminist mind. No matter the conversation, she would always relate it to the importance of equality for women and I liked that. It just made common sense to me. She was bold about her beliefs and ready to challenge anyone who thought differently. I felt safe around her because she was all about making sure EVERYONE was seen and heard. Long before the word was popular, she was an ally, and I felt the safety that came with that. I first heard about Gloria Steinem and the Equal Rights Amendment over spaghetti and garlic bread, the kind that came in a loaf sealed in an aluminum foil wrapper that you put directly into the oven. I loved that bread, and I loved hearing my parents and the Delors talk about making the world a better place for people who were overlooked. It is often said that what we talk about around the dinner table affects the angle at which we view the world. Gloria Steinem was presented as a hero, so I saw her as a hero. In celebration of Women’s History month, I wanted to share and learn about this woman I was taught to admire. Gloria Steinem was born in Toledo, Ohio, in 1934. Her grandmother is credited for rescuing several of her family members from the horrors of the Holocaust and later became the first woman elected to the Toledo Board of Education and was a prominent member of the National Women Suffrage Association. The genes for social justice run deep in the Steinem family. It appears Ms. Steinem was heavily influenced by the talk around her dinner table, too. Gloria’s mother suffered from mental illness and often was in and out of the hospital as she struggled with her illness and finding someone to listen. Gloria witnessed how the doctors treated her mother and concluded that the doctors’ apathy toward her was because she was a woman. This would inspire Gloria to fight for equal treatment for women for the rest of her life. Gloria Steinem was a journalist and activist. One of her first jobs was writing for Esquire magazine. Her first official piece was on how women are often forced to choose between a career and marriage. The controversy around a woman speaking out would get her noticed. A year later she posed as a Playboy bunny and wrote about the conditions and treatment of women inside the Playboy mansion in an article called “Bunny Tales.” Her involvement in this piece, although groundbreaking and eye-opening, would make it hard for her to get further work. It is said, though, that her story caused Hugh Hefner to rethink and improve the working conditions for the women at the mansion. Eventually, she would land a job at New York Magazine . While working there, she was sent to a church basement to attend a meeting with community organizers. She would later comment that this meeting is where things “clicked” for her and she became a fierce defender of women’s rights. In 1969, Gloria wrote an article titled “After Black Power, Women’s Liberation.” This article brought her attention and she soon became known as one of the leaders of feminism. She testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment. Her pen and voice were tireless as she protested and wrote about things like apartheid, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the rights of stewardesses, the Clarence Thomas confirmation as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, and even the powers and uniform of Wonder Woman. DC Comics had decided to write into the comic’s storyline that Wonder Woman would lose her powers and uniform to become a special agent. This offended Ms. Steinem and prompted her to protest the removal of Wonder Woman’s powers. The protest led to the firing of writer Samuel “Chip” Delany. Ms. Steinem changed the landscape of this country by simply creating a space where a more valuable voice could be heard. I now see why Mrs. Delor was such a fan. Ms. Steinem has done more than I could possibly describe in this blog. Learn more about her here .