I don’t know exactly what I was expecting from this. But finally getting my hands on a copy has meant not wanting to put it down.
It has also been an inspiration and push to find my way back into the feminist movement. I’ve learned a lot – about Steinem herself, history that I seemed to have been missed from other readings, and who else to go read up on.
Steinem’s childhood is something I would never have imagined. While I had the childhood she dreamed of as a child, her experience was so far from my dreams of moving to other cities, and being the new kid in school. She wasn’t actually in school much. This roving childhood shaped her in ways she didn’t realize for decades.
The book is stories grouped by topic – her childhood, talking circles, politics, so it hops around some. But regardless the stories are interesting, and many cover history — her’s or otherwise — that I was unfamiliar with. This isn’t just for a feminist to read — it’s about what her decades of traveling have taught her about life, herself, her career, the country, and people.
I think the most important lessons she found are what most people hope for when traveling – meet new people, gain new experiences, and learn about cultures you knew nothing about. She found that just by crisscrossing the US — but the most interesting comparison she had was to the circles she experienced in India just after college, and learning later the exact same thing was happening across the South in the early days of the Civil Rights movement.
Expecting to find differences, and instead finding similarity is probably the more exciting part of travel. We are all much more alike than we think. Her travels, the people she met, all show that.
I was unprepared for this book to make me want to find a way back into the movement. After a few years of essentially sitting on the sidelines while I did other things, it feels like it’s time to jump back in. As Steinem says in the book, if your gut it telling you to go, you better go. I tend to listen to my gut — it’s always right.
Yes, the book gets political, but then again it’s an election year, so read it anyways — even if it isn’t your thing.