The American writer and journalist Gloria Steinem has been awarded the Princess of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities, awarded this Wednesday in Oviedo. At 87, she is one of the mothers modern feminism, a key piece in the second wave of the movement in the United States, which fought for the approval of the ERA – the Equal Rights Amendment – in all 50 states of the country. The jury, meeting online, has highlighted that, over six decades, their activism, “marked by independence and rigor, has been the driving force behind one of the great revolutions of contemporary society.” After hearing the news, the author thanked the award “for praising the scientific, cultural, social and humanitarian work that makes our world a better place,” she assured the Princess of Asturias Foundation. “I am humbled and honored. After a difficult year for all of us, I am looking forward to meeting again in celebration and community ”.
Born in 1934 in Toledo, Ohio, every fall when she was a child, her father would put the entire family in the car and drive around the United States in search of work. Hence, says Steinem, do not conceive of your life without movement. He has never conceived it. In those trips, in which everything was possible, and in which freedom was everywhere, the seed of his insubordination to a system, the patriarchal, was planted, which claimed the opposite. And he could not with her.
The Princess of Asturias winner has written tirelessly. Founder, along with Dorothy Pitman Hughes, of her own magazine, La Revulsiva Ms., is responsible for a fight from the word in all kinds of headers, Esquire a New York Magazine, where he served as a political columnist, going through Cosmopolitan, publication in which he made a brilliant and scandalous interview with John Lennon. He spoke openly about abortion, making his testimony one of the first to make visible how painful it is to interrupt a pregnancy and, at the same time, what is necessary to be able to “direct” his life the way he wanted to do it.
Author of the memoirs My life on the road (Alpha Decay, 2016), the only one of his works translated into Spanish, and of at least seven more titles, including Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions (Scandalous acts and daily rebellions), Gloria Steinem has always remained faithful to the principles of a movement for equality that grew with her, from her first experience in feminist activism in India to her work as a journalist in the aforementioned Ms., which sold out its first 300,000 copies in eight days, proving that the world was waiting for it. The only thing she has wanted, from the beginning, as recounted in My life on the road it is “to open (the) way, literally”.
In an interview with this newspaper in 2016, Steinem declared: “I was always aware that there was an imbalance and an injustice. But I thought I could overcome it individually. There was always a group of female writers in New York helping each other and advising each other on which editor might be more reasonable. But I didn’t realize that this could be changed until the women of the anti-Vietnam War movement and the civil rights movement – movements that our generation loved, but in which women were still largely in a traditional role. They started to rebel against this and say, ‘Wait, we must have an autonomous movement for women.’
His figure gained relevance beyond his writings with Mrs America, the FX series, broadcast by HBO Spain, which narrates the gestation of the constitutional amendment that would guarantee equal rights between the sexes in the United States in the 1970s. The narrative axis is in Phyllis Schlafly, the furious anti-feminist played by Cate Blanchett, whose reactionary positions Steinem fights in the foreground. Portrayed by Rose Byrne, the journalist and founder of the magazine Ms. She is allergic to marriage – although she ended up marrying at the age of 66, to Christian Bale’s father – and of a nomadic spirit. The real Steinem called the series “ridiculous”, for approaching the plot as “a fight between women.”
The writer assured last September to The New York Times that “there is still work to be done” when it comes to the feminist struggle. “The advantage of being older,” he said, “is being able to say that in my time everything was much worse.” And what made her the kind of leader that movies are still being released about, like the one Julie Taymor directed last year, The Glories? “I guess I didn’t give up, but I could do it because that was my job. No one could fire me. And not everyone has that freedom. Although if I had to stay with only one thing, I would say that a sense of humor is key. When you know how to laugh at yourself, you can admit mistakes, and that is essential for any leader, ”he replied.
The award distinguished last year in this category the Guadalajara International Book Fair (Mexico), the most important in the Spanish-speaking world, and the Hay Festival, which began in the late 1980s at Hay-On- Wye, a small Welsh town, and in these decades it has become an encounter with headquarters in countries such as Mexico, Spain or Colombia. It rewards “the work of cultivating and improving the sciences and disciplines considered as humanistic activities and what is related to the media of social communication in all its expressions”. And he has recognized in previous editions the Prado Museum, the journalist Alma Guillermoprieto, the comedy group Les Luthiers, the photographers James Nachtwey and Annie Leibovitz, the thinker Emilio Lledó, the cartoonist Joaquín Salvador Lavado Quino, the videogame creator Shigeru Miyamoto, Google or EL PAÍS. The award is endowed with a sculpture by Joan Miró, a diploma, a badge and 50,000 euros. The jury that awarded the award was chaired by Víctor García de la Concha. Steinem’s candidacy was proposed by Socorro Suárez Lafuente, professor and coordinator of the TransLIT Research Group at the University of Oviedo.