85 Life-Long Friends Celebrate Gloria Steinem’s 85th Birthday

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Women’s Media Center co-founder Gloria Steinem — journalist, author, activist, and feminist organizer — celebrates her 85th birthday today (March 25).

The Women’s Media Center gathered “life-long friends” of Steinem to share the “impact she has had” on them. The center has posted short birthday greetings from over 85 artists, journalists, activists, and many life-long friends from around the globe expressing what the women’s rights pioneer has meant to them and to the feminist movement. Many conjure up an experience or memory that exemplifies Steinem, or a personal insight about the impact she has had.


Julie Burton, Women’s Media Center president

“I will never forget standing together on the stage of Constitution Hall for our very first Voters For Choice concert. And the night we cheered the election of our first fully pro-choice U.S. president. And the day I joined the Women’s Media Center. For all these years you have always been where you are most needed — at the podium, on TV, on the plane, on the phone, at the computer — to build the movement for equality and social justice.”


Jane Fonda, Women’s Media Center co-founder, Actor, Activist, Author

“The first thing I feel whenever I’m in Gloria Steinem’s presence is safe. She makes me feel safe. That’s because she is deeply kind. Her slender body seems to curve towards you like a parenthesis, leaning in, protecting. Though she is barraged by demands on her time, she is always willing to stop and listen, wanting to help, to understand. I know there are literally millions of women (I have personally spoken to hundreds of them) whose lives have been changed by Gloria’s words.”


Pat Mitchell, media executive, producer, curator of TEDWomen, Women’s Media Center co-chair

“Happy Birthday, Gloria, and may the torch you lit and continue to carry burn brightly forever!”


Robin Morgan, WMC co-founder, nationally syndicated host, Women’s Media Center Live with Robin Morgan, best-selling author

“Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite anxiety: that she has not yet saved the world enough, lobbied picketed protested rallied organized put off her writing deadlines and fundraised fundraised fundraised enough.”


Joy Behar, co-host, The View

“Gloria famously said, “This is what 40 looks like.” That simple response is so much more than an anthem of strength for 40-year-olds, but an empowering declaration for every woman, at every age to unapologetically be themselves. Gloria has always unapologetically been herself. She has inspired countless women, including me, to challenge the status quo and fight for political, social, and economic power to women. She’s the woman we want our daughters to grow up to be. Hell, she’s the woman I want to grow up to be. To my friend Gloria, Happy Birthday!”


Donna Deitch, producer, director

“In 1980 I was raising money for my lesbian love story Desert Hearts, asking everyone if they knew Gloria. I wondered, would she understand my passion to tell this story? We met. I gave her my script. What would she say? She simply asked: “How can I help?” Wow! I knew Gloria meant it, I registered how I felt. The memory of Gloria’s question became my inspiration to ask that question myself.”

Abigail E. Disney, filmmaker, philanthropist, activist

“Dear Gloria: I know you are a big deal and everything, but I just want, on this big birthday, to make sure you know that it is in all the ways you are a small deal that you the most amazing.”


Lena Dunham, actor, writer, producer

“I love that in your private life you walk the walk, advocating for women globally and also close to home. I love that you write like you talk and talk like you write.”


Sally Field, actor, director

“Gloria is more than a feminist. More than an activist, a writer, an entrepreneur. Much more than an icon or a hero. She is indelible and irreplaceable.”


Mariska Hargitay, actor

“Thank you for being the superhero. We are all forever grateful.”

Ashley Judd, actor, activist, chair Women’s Media Center Speech Project

“Gloria has mentored my growth and development with keen intelligence and brilliant perspective forged by her decades of lived experience. For someone so fierce, she’s is so gentle. That’s perhaps what I love best about her. She wears her inimitable experience loosely.”


Christine Lahti, actor, filmmaker

“Playing her in Gloria: A Life, I came to understand that maybe because she grew up thinking her mother did not matter; that indeed her own needs didn’t really matter, she became determined to make sure all women on the planet mattered.”


Cyndi Lauper, singer, songwriter, actor

“At 15, I was first introduced to the woman’s movement and Gloria Steinem. I saw her on the local news speaking out on issues I had personally witnessed, in my home and my neighborhood. She spoke calmly and clearly about fairness and equality in Women’s Rights. Her words resonated and inspired me. And she was funny, too. Fifteen years later, involved in the women’s movement myself, I was given a song to sing called “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” I saw the possibility that it could be an anthem to empower ALL women of ALL ages. But without Gloria’s advocacy, I’m not sure I would have been inspired the same way.”

Lyn and Norman Lear, writer, producer

“We can’t think of anyone in our lifetime who has been more responsible for important, justified, and welcome change.”


Julianna Margulies, actor

“When you came to work on The Good Wife, I wanted to make a good impression, but found that I barely had the courage to speak, I was so star struck. You were kind, gracious, and so generous with your time.”


Michael Moore, filmmaker, author

“Gloria, I remember the first time I saw you when I was a kid, on the Phil Donahue Show. The things you said I had never heard before. I asked my mother about what you said. She said, “Women can do anything men can do, and often do it better.” I wish you could’ve seen the look on my face! Boom! Sometimes change occurs in a nanosecond! Thank you for all you’ve done to make this world a better place. I remain with you in this fight.”


Kathy Najimy, actor, activist

“We spent her 80th birthday in Africa. In fact, on the day of her birthday, rode elephants in a humane sanctuary. The sight of her, little pony tail swinging in the wind, the view landscape of possibilities in front of her — who she is, where she’s come, and what’s still awaiting her.”

Amy Schumer, comedian, actor

“I learned you can run up to her with compliments but she would rather sit with a cup of tea and talk about what’s happening and what we are going to do about it. I was honored to speak at her 80th birthday. To stand in front of hundreds of people and speak confidently in a way she didn’t even realize she taught me how. But I don’t think she really cares how it happened just as long as we are talking.”

Meryl Streep, actor

“Gloria, thank you for whatever made you give your life to us, for us, make it about all of our well-being — and by Us I mean ALL of us, men, boys, women, girls, all PEOPLE. You clarify the continuing inequities in our society in a calm but passionate, direct but compassionate way.”


Julie Taymor, director, playwright, and designer

“Happy birthday Ms. GLORIOUS! It has been an honor spending the last three years invested in bringing the inspiring moments of your life to the screen. We are currently in India for the last days of our shoot and all of us here working on the film never cease being moved by your journey. Many more to come!”


Marlo Thomas, actor, producer, author, activist

“The definition of Gloria Steinem: Giving, loyal, outrageous, resilient, indefatigable, authentic. You had me at, ‘Let’s be friends.’”

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal

“You understand that race and gender are deeply interwoven and you pushed to highlight the women of color who have undergirded feminism for so long.”


Congresswoman Maxine Waters; Women’s Media Center board member

“Gloria Steinem, you are absolutely the most significant leader who set the Women’s Movement on the right course in this country.”

Rebecca Adamson, WMC board member, activist

“Every month during the full moon many Native women hold ceremonies of thanks to Grandmother Moon. She is a powerful and sacred entity who brings balance, cycles, and direction to us. Grandmother Moon teaches us about our sacred role as the Life Givers and the heart of our nations — for without women Life and our nations cannot go on. Grandmother Moon must have sent us Gloria to give us direction and light our way out of the darkness of patriarchy.”


Christine Ahn, founder and international coordinator of Women Cross DMZ

“After we crossed the DMZ (border area) into South Korea from the North, some organizers suggested I stand in the back of the march to avoid being hit with acid. I will never forget Gloria’s response: “Christine is our leader. She will be in the front and walk arm-in-arm with me and Leymah. We will protect her.”

Alicia Garza, activist, founder, Black Lives Matter

“You teach us that we must always learn, convene, create circles in which we can be seen and heard.”


Leymah Gbowee, Liberian Nobel Peace Prize winner, social worker and women’s rights advocate

“In 2009 on Easter Sunday, I had the pleasure of sitting with Gloria Steinem in her home in New York. We talked about feminism, life, sisterhood, and friendship. I cherish that day because it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sit with such wise woman under the “Baobab Tree” of knowledge. Beyond the wisdom, the humility and authenticity … I learned that day that these are legacy traits.”

Ruchira Gupta, social justice activist, feminist campaigner

“Walking through the red-light areas of Kolkata or lobbying in Albany, with you I have experienced how immense our movement is. With utter gentleness and tenderness you have taught me that there are more than two choices and helped me find the courage to look for them. Such an adventure in experience happens only too rarely — where the sense of being an Indian or American is lifted off the mind and where the profoundly political is the simplest truth.”


Saru Jayaman, co-founder and co-director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and director of the Food Labor Research at UC Berkeley

“We meet so many millions of women struggling to deal with sexual harassment and gender discrimination every day in restaurants, and you have been such an inspiration and reminder to millions to keep going, keep fighting, keep our heads up in the midst of the daily, painful assaults.”

Carol Jenkins, president, ERA Coalition; former and founding president, Women’s Media Center

“I have seen you on the world stages and in the quiet rooms with people seeking solace. You never disappoint. You never reject. And your words, whether on the page, or in that inimitable voice, you embrace.”

AI-Jen Poo, executive director, National Domestic Workers Alliance

“One of the first memories I have with Gloria is when domestic workers held a 24-hour vigil in front of the governor’s office to demand movement on the passage of the New York State Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. I sent her a quick note letting her know we were there. She showed up, brought friends, and stood with domestic workers for hours, sharing stories about past campaigns that she had been a part of to recognize women’s work in the home, to help keep our energy up. She deeply inspired every last one of our members and energized us all for the work ahead.”


Christiane Amanpour, CNN chief international correspondent; host, Amanpour & Co. on PBS

“Gloria is a gorgeous, gritty, generous game-changer! I am motivated every time I see her, and inspired by her exhortations like “Feel the fear and do it anyway!” Or “Don’t agonize, organize.”’

Cristina Azocar, professor, San Francisco State University; former Women’s Media Center board member

“A few years ago I filed a sexual harassment grievance against my supervisor. It took four years for it to finally settle, and it protected many women from going through what I went through. Without the groundbreaking work that Gloria did for women, I would not have been empowered to file a grievance.”

Janet Dewart Bell, author, activist, Women’s Media Center board member     

“Mentor, friend, and guiding light, she will tap-dance to heaven on the wings of angels.”



Soraya Chemaly, author, director Women’s Media Center Speech Project

“No matter where I go, no matter what the ages of the people I talk to, they know her and the immense value of her commitment to women’s human rights and equality. For me personally, my earliest memory of being struck by her work was when I read her writing about her own mother. What she described resonated powerfully with me. Since first reading those words, I’ve come to realize how many of us, doing this work, share memories like hers.”

David Corn, Washington bureau chief, Mother Jones; author, MSNBC analyst

“For years, what I most relished about Gloria (and envied her for) was her remarkable ability to deftly and elegantly reveal and dissect the destructive power imbalances of American life.”


Katie Couric, founder, Katie Couric Media; journalist, author, producer, filmmaker

“Gloria — because of you, I became a card-carrying member of the feminist party. When anyone eschewed the label, I’d remind them what the word means: the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes, and who the hell can argue with that?”

Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher, The Nation

“As Gloria wrote me after my mother’s death, ‘ “It was a time when we were young and the nation was being re-born — before the murders of Jack Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy and Malcolm X. That seemed to us to be the death of our future — though of course, we survived and kept on.” ‘

But Gloria hasn’t just “survived and kept on” — she has persevered for decades, with verve and heart, fighting for our rights, using her talents, humor, and passion as a writer/journalist to explain why we struggle for equality and for the full humanity of men and women.”


Mellody Hobson, contributor, CNBC; president, Ariel Investments

“Gloria likes to say that “we are linked, not ranked.” And of course, she’s right. But if we were ranked, Gloria would be at the top of the list of fighters for equality and social justice. She has supported, inspired, educated and delighted generations of humanists. Happy birthday, Gloria. We all celebrate the day you were born.”

Nicholas D. Kristof, op-ed columnist, The New York Times, author, commentator

“While some people become less extraordinary when you get to know them, others gain stature and turn out to be larger not only than life but also larger than legends.”


Letty Cottin Pogrebin, founding editor, Ms. magazine, journalist, author

“I met Gloria 48 years ago at the founding conference of the National Women’s Political Caucus. For 17 years, my desk was ten feet from hers at Ms. magazine, but our friendship long ago outgrew our professional relationship. Knowing this, people often ask me, “What’s Gloria really like? She can’t be as kind/wise/funny/caring/patient/loving/warm as she appears.” The answer is, Yes she can. And she is. Unlike most cultural icons, what you see is who she is — genuinely.”


Anna Quindlen, novelist, journalist

“Every year I try to remember to send Gloria a message on her birthday, and it always says the same thing: Thank you for my life. Her persistent refusal to take no for an answer, her determination to force the world to welcome its women, her selflessness in going where the need is, has meant that the world in which I grew up and the world in which I now live might as well be different planets in many ways.”


Jennifer Buffet, co-president, NoVo Foundation


“How fortunate we are to have enjoyed your soft & strong guiding presence and support in the unfolding of NoVo’s work these past dozen years!”

The Women’s Media Center, founded by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem, is an inclusive and feminist organization that works to make women visible and powerful in the media.




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