What I Learnt From Reading ‘My Life on the Road’ by Gloria Steinem

So a month or so ago, I wrote about my #100FemaleAuthors challenge which I started in correlation with Emma Watson’s feminist book club, Our Shared Shelf, as of now, I’ve currently completed two books in the one-a-month challenge, but I thought I’d write a bit about what I learnt from January’s book – My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem.

Gloria Steinem—writer, activist, organizer, and one of the most inspiring leaders in the world—now tells a story she has never told before, a candid account of how her early years led her to live an on-the-road kind of life, traveling, listening to people, learning, and creating change. She reveals the story of her own growth in tandem with the growth of an ongoing movement for equality. This is the story at the heart of My Life on the Road. – [x]

This is the first book of Steinem’s that I’ve read and tells fragments of her amazing life and what she has learnt, its interesting and enlightening and makes one feel lucky to just be able to hear her stories and learn from her experiences.

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One of the amazing things about this book is that Steinem has managed to collate so many stories from various sources and was able to use them to learn from and teach upon. From the women in India, to her own family, to the Native Americans to bikers, every trip, every journey, every visit, helped her to shape her own worldview and the doctrines that she swears upon.

Travelling was always something I want to do, from a young age. My natural curiosity about people and cultures a large part of my interest, and even as I’ve grown older that wanderlust has not disappeared. But the circumstances, I often found myself in, have left me in a sort of loop, without a chance for a weekend holiday, let alone an overseas trip. And while I wait for a chance in where I can finally see the places I’ve read about, Steinem’s book has inspired me that sometimes there are great stories and lessons to be heard at home.

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In a country as culturally-rich as South Africa, there are polarised people, with different life experiences as me, who have stories waiting to be told, and if anything this book has inspired me to listen more, judge less, and be willing to receive lessons.

I can accept that formal education will always be guided by Western styles, but informal education is rich with knowledge too. Every person has a story, every heart has a song, every person presents an opportunity for growth – in themselves and in others.

Another integral thing that I learnt from ‘My Life on the Road’ is the need for ‘talking circles’, over the past year, I’ve been meeting with teenage girls in closed communities, which provides them with a safe space to talk about they are struggling with and are able to discuss it with others. This book helped validate my trust in this system, and how it could do wonders in helping women of all ages find empowerment, strength and support from their compatriots.

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Other than her core beliefs and reading some of her speeches and articles, I did not much about Gloria Steinem, and in many ways this memoir is a vanity project – a tell all about her life – it’s more of a learning manual. A learning hub. A book to inspire, validate, and educate, and I recommend this to anyone who wishes to learn more about feminism, intersectionality and being able to listen to the struggles of those around you.
It is an experience.

More about Caryn

Journalist, Reader, Dreamer, Fangirl, Defender of the Weak (and that's just my formal titles). I hope to one day take over the world or marry Tom Hiddleston.

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