Gloria Steinem: How She Started The First Magazine In America To Be Owned, Run, And Written By Women

Gloria Steinem: How She Started The First Magazine In America To Be Owned, Run, And Written By Women

Gloria Steinem is a name that is synonymous with women’s rights. She is a writer, editor, and feminist activist who has been at the forefront of the women’s rights movement for decades.

In 1972, she co-founded Ms. magazine, the first magazine in America to be owned, run, and written by women.

Ms. magazine was groundbreaking in its approach to covering women’s issues. It was one of the first publications to take a feminist perspective on topics like abortion, domestic violence, and reproductive rights. The magazine also featured stories about ordinary women living extraordinary lives, which empowered readers to see themselves as agents of change.

Despite its success, Ms. magazine was not immune to criticism from within the feminist movement. Some feminists felt that the magazine was too focused on white, middle-class women’s issues and did not adequately represent the experiences of women of color or working-class women.

Nevertheless, Gloria Steinem and her colleagues persevered in their mission to give voice to all women’s experiences. Today, Ms. is still published and remains an important platform for feminist thought and action.

To know how Ms came into existence let’s take a look at Gloria Steinem’s life, her vision and how she eventually turned things around.

Early Life and Education

Gloria Steinem was born on March 25, 1934, in Toledo, Ohio. Her mother, Ruth Nuneviller Steinem, was a successful journalist, and her father, Leo Steinem, was a traveling salesman. Gloria was the second of two daughters. When she was ten years old, her parents divorced, which had a profound effect on her.

Her mother gave up journalism to raise her two daughters and subsequently suffered a mental breakdown. Ruth Steinem was often confined to bed, and dependent on tranquillisers that slurred her speech and slowed her movements. After Gloria’s father left and her older sister Susan went away to college, Gloria became a full-time carer to her mother. 

As a teenager, Gloria developed a passion for writing and took every opportunity to express herself through the written word. After graduating from high school, she attended Smith College on a scholarship.

She received the Chester Bowles Fellowship in 1956, which allowed her to spend two years studying and conducting research in India. During her stay overseas, she developed a passion for grassroots activity, which eventually showed in her involvement with the Equal Rights Amendment and the women’s liberation movement.

Gloria Steinem: How She Started The First Magazine In America To Be Owned, Run, And Written By Women
“I can go on the road — because I can come home. I come home — because I’m free to leave. Each way of being is more valued in the presence of the other. This balance between making camp and following the seasons is both very ancient and very new. We all need both.”           
– Gloria Steinem

Establishing Herself In The Media At A Young Age

Gloria Steinem was always interested in the media and its ability to shape public opinion. She started by writing for her high school newspaper and then went on to become a regular contributor to a local magazine. It was clear that she had a talent for writing and a keen understanding of the power of the media.

In 1963, Steinem moved to New York City and steadily established herself as a leading voice in the feminist movement. Initially, she worked as a freelance writer for various magazines, including Vogue and New York magazine. Once, she wrote an article for Esquire magazine about working as a Playboy Bunny at the Playboy Club. The article caused controversy, but it also made her name as a writer.

When I suggested political stories to The New York Times Sunday Magazine, my editor just said something like, ‘I don’t think of you that way.’Steinem

The idea for Ms. magazine came about in 1971, when Steinem was working as a freelance journalist. She was asked to write an article for New York magazine about a new women’s liberation group called Women’s Liberation Union (WLU). Steinem agreed to write the article, but she was not interested in simply reporting on the WLU; she wanted to start her own publication that would be entirely devoted to women’s issues.

With the help of her friend, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Steinem pitched the idea of a new women’s magazine to several publishing companies. Initially, most publishers were not interested in the idea, but finally one company, Fawcett Publications, took a chance on the project. The first issue of Ms. was published in December, 1971.

Gloria Steinem: How She Started The First Magazine In America To Be Owned, Run, And Written By Women
Gloria Steinem and Pat Crabine in Pat’s office at Ms Magazine. Photo by Marry Ellen Mark/Huffpost

Ms. was the first magazine in America to be owned, run, and written by women.

Ms. magazine was more than just a magazine; it was a vehicle for change. Through its pages, Steinem and her fellow editors tackled issues like abortion rights, equal pay, domestic violence, and sexual harassment long before they became mainstream topics of conversation. The magazine gave voice to a generation of women who were determined to fight for their rights and create a more just and equal society.

Over the years, Steinem has remained an active and vocal advocate for women’s rights. She is still involved with Ms. magazine and continues to use her platform to fight for equality and justice for all women.

First Issue of Ms. Magazine

The first issue of Ms. featured an interview with First Lady Betty Ford, who spoke candidly about her struggle with addiction. The issue also included a groundbreaking article about abortion rights, which was something that had never been openly discussed in the media before.

Gloria Steinem: How She Started The First Magazine In America To Be Owned, Run, And Written By Women
Cover of first Ms Issue via Ms

Ms. Magazine was an instant success, and it continues to be a leading voice for women’s rights today. Thanks to Gloria Steinem and the other brave women who started this magazine, women all over the world have a place to turn to for information and inspiration.

However, in the early days of Ms., Steinem and her team had to fight for every inch of ground. They were constantly up against resistance from advertisers, distributors, and even some of their own staff. But they persevered, and eventually they won over the doubters. Today, Ms. is still going strong, and it continues to be a powerful voice for feminism.

Passion for Activism

Gloria’s commitment to feminism began early in her life. She was active in the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement as a young woman. In the 1960s, she worked as a journalist, covering stories about discrimination against women. It was during this time that she began to speak out publicly about the need for women’s liberation.

Steinem speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach, Fla. on July 13, 1972. (AP Photo)

In 1971, Gloria helped to organize the historic Women’s Strike for Equality. This nationwide protest marked the 50th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. The strike was a powerful demonstration of the growing strength of the feminist movement.

Continuation Of Activism

Gloria Steinem often talks about how the fight for gender equality is far from over. She urges women to continue to be active in the movement, and to use their voices to demand change. She also discusses the necessity of intersectionality in the feminist movement, and how all women must stand together to achieve true equality.


Gloria Steinem is a living legend, and her experience in starting the first magazine in America to be owned, run, and written by women is an inspiration to all. She has shown that it is possible to create something beautiful and impactful even in the face of adversity. We hope her story encourages you to follow your dreams and fight for what you believe in.

Thank you, Gloria, for everything.

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