33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 1999
This book was my introduction to Gloria Steinem and the beginning of some serious hero-worship. Several of the articles in the book were published before I was even born, and even the ones that weren't are over a decade old now. Amazing--disturbing, too--that so many of the problems and issues she writes about are still realities. However, Steinem has a way of analysing these things with such intelligence and articulating what seems inexpressible, that you finish each essay thinking, at the very least, "Well, thank god." This book is half-history and half-inspiration. She's a great journalist and an awesome activist.
48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2004
There was often grumbling in certain circles that Gloria Steinem had so much attention paid to her because she was pretty. If that was the only factor, Steinem's popularity would have waned, not because she lost her looks (she never did) but because of the fickleness of the media and the "next pretty face." Steinem is smart, brave, funny and a damn good writer. "Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions", her 1983 book of collected essays proves it in spades.
In early 1993, I had the privilege of seeing Gloria Steinem speak at Mount Holyoke College. I had to take the bus from UMASS to get there, and the place was packed. They closed the doors at one point saying it was too full, but they ended up letting most people in. When Ms. Steinem took the stage, she urged all those who were standing in the back to come up and join her onstage so that they could sit. This is the kindness and warmth that Steinem raidates. Many people in the audience were clutching copies of her books for her to sign. As this was the era of "Revolution from Within," that book was everywhere. But I also saw many copies of "Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions" as well. By then the book was 10 years old, but I can understand why people held onto it. This is a great book of essays written over the years. The book touches upon topics such as abortion rights, Jackie Onassis, Alice Walker, Steinem's college reunion, Steinem's own relationship with her mother and the famous expose of Steinem's undercover work at the Playboy Club in the early 60's. Having a journalism background, Steinem's prose is clear and concise. This is no rhetoric-filled theory-based polemic, but a balanced and fair look at the world from the perspective of an extraordinary woman. Also included in this collection is the wonderfully wry, "If Men Could Menstruate." The second edition of this book has some updated comments from Steinem that reflect on the essays more than a decade after the book was published.
For all those who condemn feminism yet really know nothing about it, read this book. For those who are looking for a book of unique, well-written and enlightening essays, read this book. For those of us who discovered this book long ago and have fond memories, read it again.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2006
This review is not a review of the whole book. For focus, it is a review of "Ruth's Song (Because She Could Not Sing It)," a memoir essay written by Gloria Steinem about her mother who suffered from serious mental illness throughout Gloria's entire life. But before I focus on that essay, I want to mention that this book also contains an essay "Alice Walker: Do You Know This Woman? She Knows You" written in 1982 before The Color Purple won the Pulitzer Prize the following year.
If you are trying to decide whether you want to buy this book, pick it up in the book store and read Gloria's essay on her mother's detailed history of mental illnesses. "Write what you know" is a common adage, and it rings true here. If you want to understand what energized Gloria to take on a life of advocacy promoting women's rights and equality, reading this essay will help you easily understand how her personal suffering has given her such robust motivation for so many years to combat the forces Gloria believes led her mother to become mentally disabled, to varying degrees, for all of Gloria's life. Gloria starts by inquiring into the mysteries of what led her uncle and mother to shut down and completely change from the outgoing and incredibly bright people they were in their young adulthood (her uncle a brilliant electrical engineer, and her mother a math teacher who once taught college calculus) to meeker and lower functioning older adults. She notes that the family was concerned about her uncle, but not as engaged in trying to remedy her mother's ailments.
Gloria lives with the hindsight that she did not know in her youth how to possibly help her mother better, "Assuming there to be no other alternative, I took her home and never tried again," and "Perhaps the worst thing about suffering is that it finally hardens the hearts of those around it," and "For many years, I was obsessed with the fear that I would end up in a house like that one in Toledo. Now, I'm obsessed instead with the things I could have done for my mother while she was alive, or the things I should have said to her. I still don't understand why so many, many years passed before I saw my mother as a person, and before I understood that many of the forces in her life were patterns women share." Gloria spent many years growing up with only herself and her mother in the home while her mother suffered from agoraphobia (primarily suffered by women), terrors, delusions and many other cognitive deficiencies. Her mother suffered from depression and other mental roadblocks, spent time in sanatoriums, was drug dependent, and could not work outside the home.
Please, please read it if you or any woman you care about has either suffered from mental illness, or if they "became a different person" at some point in their life. I have a female relative that all my uncles could not understand why she "changed so drastically" and fell into never ending depression, drug dependency and general dysfunction. But I understand many of the likely reasons for those declines, declines that our extended familial environment contributed to more than most of my family ever realized or were willing to acknowledge.
Gloria's mother, Ruth, sold her only home so Gloria could go to college. She encouraged both Gloria and her sister to leave home for "four years of independence she herself had never had." Before certain events happened to Ruth, Ruth was one of the first female journalists and went to dances when her religion and community told her the music was sinful. Why does Gloria share this private and painful family history? I believe she wants to help teach other women how to tell their own stories. Each woman is best at telling her own story. But when they cannot or do not sing their own song, sometimes others sing it for them, to share their beauty. Gloria concludes with, "At least we're now asking questions about all the Ruths in all our family mysteries. If her song inspires that, I think she would be the first to say: It was worth the singing."
A beautiful coincidence: my mother's mother was a musician named Ruth.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2000
This was one of the first "feminist" books I read, so for me, even though a lot of the material had appeared elsewhere previously, it was a topical collection. I liked just about every piece in the book and often use copies of "If Men Could Menstruate" in the men's groups I facilitate. I hope a day comes when the entire book is outdated, but that day seems far away.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2003
This was the first book I read by Gloria Steinem (but not the last!), and I loved it!! I took it on vacation and found it to be the perfect book for a trip. You can read one essay at a time or a few of them in one sitting. They range in tone and style from the more humorous to the dead serious. And reading about Steinem's experience as a playboy bunny, and then Hugh Hefner's response to her expose on Playboy was worth the price of the book. This book is for anyone and everyone, it's awesome!
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 1997
This book is a collection of essays written by Gloria Steinem. They give incredible insight into feminism and the women's movement from an insider's view. Ms. Steinem gives us much to think about in this superb piece of literature
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2000
Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions is an interesting book for both men and women. Many women will be able to relate to this book, espically older women who can remember what it was like before feminisim became a major political power. I,myself, am to young to remember that time but reading this book helps me understand why my mother pushes for me to be an indepedent women. I espically loved the essay called "If Men Could Menstrate." It was a funny look at how it would be if the roles were reversed. And sadly very true. This book shows the reality of what it is like to be a women in yesterday and todays worlds.
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 1998
Gloria Steinem presents a collection of beautifully written essays about womens' lives. Her writing is warm, sensitive, and empathic. Her stories give men and women alike a deeper understanding of what it means to be female in a man's world. This book made a powerful impression on me and I use it as a text in my college classes. It is easy to read, funny, and enlightening.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2013
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About two months ago, during a class simulation, I was in the hallway speaking with several male classmates. Despite that fact that I had done my research and was an active participant, 90% of the men I was with completely ignored me, despite my overt attempts to join the conversation. It was so bad, in fact, that all but one of them walked away while I was still talking. Infuriated, I clapped my hands loudly and demanded that they listen to me. Had I not just been treated in such a way by a group of faculty members a few weeks before, I may have let it slide for the sake of civility, but I was tired of men acting as if they were placating me by allowing me to speak. They may as well have patted me on the head and told me to be a good little girl and play nice.
I've always been very outspoken and assertive, so I'm not entirely sure how I made it to 30 without reading Gloria Steinem, but here I am, reading her for the first time. To be honest, I don't know that I would have fully appreciated her or her work ten years ago, so maybe it's for the best that I read her now! I've always thought of Ms. Steinem as an amazing, confident, trailblazing woman. I had no idea that she had a massive fear of public speaking, overanalyzed what she had said for days on end, and was constantly seeking approval. As someone who can identify with and is overcoming these same traits, it her ability to succeed and make such a long-lasting and positive change fills me with hope.
Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions is a book of essays, most of which were written decades ago, and include relevant updates to keep the reader up to date on what the current state of affairs are. As Ms. Steinem points out in her introduction, some of these updates are depressing in that not much progress has been made. The essays range from how the transexual movement has affected gender roles, her time as a a Playboy Bunny, an essay about her mother and what would happen if men menstruated.
While all of the essays covered very serious topics, they were made more interesting with a type of humor that was not haha funny, but instead amusing in a this-is-real-life way. It made the book much more approachable and less preachy. In fact, the book didn't seem preachy or "feministy" at all and yet I finished the book wanting to jump up and shout about how great it is to be a woman.
One of the things that Ms. Steinem emphasized in the book is that women tend to become more liberal as they get older, and thus are more likely to become "activists" later on in life. This is not because young women are failing to understand the importance of gender equality, but rather that until they are beginning (or even halfway through) their careers, it is not something they encounter in such a blatant way. Perhaps this is true, because while I've always believed in and supported gender equality, it wasn't until the last year or two that I started to realize that I was on the unequal end of things.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2000
I'm not crazy about essays, but the title got my attention, so I bought this book. I had the best time reading it; it's really clever, sometimes sad, definitely wry, and wonderfully written; with some of the essays I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. Most of them are touching, others are plain hilarious (everyone should read "If Men Could Menstruate", I laughed until the walls rattled).