My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem, narrated by Debra Winger, is not only about the feminist movement, but also literally about her life as an activist and a woman on the road, who practiced the art of active listening. Learning in India of a decentralized way of making decisions and interacting, Steinem learned that discussing different points of view on an even plane, without hierarchy, can be much more productive and diplomatic. Debra Winger is a great narrator because her cadence is very similar to Steinem’s narration of the introductory material.
I love how her parents left their mark on her early on – a mother who wanted a different life than the one she lived and a father who had a hard time staying still, traveling and selling as much as possible. Her early life and how she travels from one place to the next are captivating, but there are times that the narrative wanders pretty far afield, leaving readers at sea as to what time period they are in until she mentions another year or date. Steinem, co-founder of Ms. Magazine, has a deep fear of public speaking on her own, though she would speak before groups with others.
Among the most memorable events are the large convention she organizes for the women’s movement, her talk at Harvard University that was mostly male, and her interactions with taxi drivers and others on the streets because she does not drive. As someone who gets that question a lot about why I don’t drive, this part of the story resonated with me. I want to be and remain connected to my world, and separating myself in a car alone is not accomplishing that at all. Steinem says that her adventure begins the moment she walks out the door.
Her discussion of the election process is very similar to what I as a mere voter expected, even though she had more of an insider’s perspective. In particular, her struggle during the Democratic primary to choose between President Obama and Hillary Clinton was fascinating. While many people voted because they wanted a woman president and others voted for a black president, Steinem’s thought process was more detailed based upon their track records and their abilities, and more. For those interested in politics and the political process, these aspects of the book are wonderful, and for those who listen, they will see that they need to adopt Steinem’s ability to listen and examine the minute details of each candidate before voting.
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem, narrated by Debra Winger, is engrossing in that it provides a detailed account of the women’s movement, the civil rights movement, and the political process. How did women get the vote, how did they use and keep it, and are voices of women heard now? Steinem is optimistic in our ability to change and evolve into a more inclusive society through careful listening toward shared solutions.
***I read this as part of Emma Watson’s Book Club on GoodReads***
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