Covering two decades—from the early sixties to the early eighties—the pieces in Gloria Steinem’s diverse, stimulating, and often-prescient first collection dare to ask how our world might change for the better if we each behaved “as if everyone mattered.”
An early assignment as a “girl reporter,” going undercover as a Bunny in Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Club, becomes an eye-opening exposé of appalling work conditions and sexual harassment. As Steinem observed, “I think Hefner himself wants to go down in history as a person of sophistication and glamour. But the last person I would want to go down in history as is Hugh Hefner.”
In addition to “I Was a Playboy Bunny,” the pieces in this collection challenge the practices and preconceptions that marginalize, exclude, exploit, and victimize women. Steinem understands that the political is always personal, and vice versa, and so her writings range from the polemical—“Erotica vs. Pornography” and “The Politics of Food”—to the deeply personal—“Ruth’s Song,” a moving tribute to her mentally ill mother—to sharp satire like “If Men Could Menstruate.” One of the first to address topics such as female genital mutilation and transgenderism, Steinem has truly earned the right to be called a feminist pioneer, and this volume is both a testament to her legacy in the fight for equality and an entertaining, thought-provoking journey through the lives of modern women.