Gloria Steinem: On her life on the road, Donald Trump, and how she got her feminist mojo

Katie Couric
Global Anchor

By Alex Bregman

Feminist, journalist, activist and icon Gloria Steinem is out with her first book in more than 20 years, My Life on the Road. In it, she writes about her 81 years traveling around the country and the world.

Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric recently sat down with Steinem in her New York City apartment, which is filled with items from her rich, colorful life. Her travels, as she told Couric, started at a very young age because her father. “For most of the year,“ she recalls, "we were on the road in a house trailer, an old house trailer, which means a small house trailer. And he was buying and selling antiques in order to make our way to Florida or California.”

Steinem tells Couric that her father had an enormous influence on her: “He always had a dream, an idea, a project.”

Steinem also describes the impact of her mother: “She was a journalist before I was born, although I didn’t even know that until — till much later. And you know, like a lot of us, I’m living out her unlived life.”

In addition to her childhood, Steinem also describes key moments in her life as a journalist and an activist including her trip to India after graduating from Smith College in 1956 and her experience at the March on Washington in 1963, which she writes about for the first time in My Life on the Road because she could not get an assignment to cover the event when it happened.

She was the only “girl reporter” at New York magazine when it was founded in 1968. Steinem told Couric about the treatment she received from her male colleagues: “They were OK until I wrote an article about the then just beginning women’s movement. “ It was called “After Black Power, Women’s Liberation.” After that article was published, she said her male colleagues had a change of heart: “They kind of took me aside … and said, ‘You know, you’ve worked so hard to be taken seriously. Don’t get involved with these crazy women.’”

That experience led Steinem to found Ms. magazine in the same New York apartment in which she lives today. If her walls could talk, she told Couric, “I think they would reverberate with excitement … and naiveté at the same time. We just wanted to work for a magazine we actually read.”

Couric asked Steinem what she thought about prominent women from Lady Gaga to Madonna not wanting to be called feminists. Her answer: “People don’t know what it means.  So I would first send them to the dictionary and then challenge them, male or female, to say if they are or are not a feminist.”

On the biggest advancements for women today, compared to when Steinem first began her career, she told Couric: “We know we’re not crazy. We know that we could be in a world in which men and women are allowed to be unique individuals, who are also equal to each other. We know it’s possible. “

Couric also asked Steinem about the recent controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood. “I would say that they then themselves should behave according to what they believe in, but they can’t tell anybody else what decision to make for their bodies.”

Finally, Steinem weighed in on the current race for the White House. On the chances of Americans electing the first female president in 2016, Steinem, who supports Clinton’s candidacy, told Couric: “I think it’s possible that we could, and I did not think it was possible in 2008. I thought it was too soon.”

On Fiorina, Steinem, who has publicly criticized the only female Republican candidate, told Couric: “There’s always somebody who looks like you and behaves like them.”

On Trump, Steinem said, “If I wrote about him, if he didn’t exist, and I wrote about him, or Hugh Hefner, either one, I would be hung from the tallest tree. They would say I was anti-male to make up such people. He was born on third base and thinks he hit a home run. He had a very rich father.”

She also criticized comments Trump made last summer about model Heidi Klum, when he said she was “no longer a 10.” Steinem’s take: “Why did nobody bother to say, "He hasn’t ever been a one.”

On her life and legacy, Steinem, 81, concluded by saying she hopes to be remembered for trying “to leave the world a little better place than it was when I arrived.”

As for the home she has lived in for over four decades, Couric asked if she would want it to become a museum. Her response: “I want people to be able to come here and live … for whatever period of time, in this great city, and feel welcome.”