5 reasons why we love Gloria Steinem

Story highlights

  • Feminist, activist and editor Gloria Steinem turns 80 years old today
  • A leading figure of the women's movement in the 1960s, she has help rewrite rules for women
  • She's gone from undercover journalist to starting the first U.S. female-led magazine

The name "Gloria Steinem" has long been synonymous with feminism.

As a leading figure of the women's liberation movement, since the 1960s Steinem has fought tirelessly for female emancipation through her writing and activism.

As she celebrates her 80th birthday, CNN takes a closer look at how Steinem became a true symbol of gender equality.

1. Undercover agent

In 1960, a young Steinem relocated to the Big Apple to start her journalism career. Three years later, she was making a name for herself as a journalist when she showed just how far she was willing to go for a story.

Dressed as a scantily clad "bunny," she went undercover at Hugh Hefner's Playboy Club in New York. She then used the experience to shed light on the poor pay and working conditions women faced at the venue in her 1963 expose "I was a Playboy Bunny."

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2. Actions over words

A decade later, Steinem had become one of the most outspoken female voices in America and was often seen as a spokesperson for gender equality.

Joining forces with other notable female leaders of the day, including Betty Friedan and Bella Abzug, Steinem pushed for the Equal Rights Amendment after testifying before U.S. congress in 1970. Just two years later, the amendment was passed.

In 1971, Steinem not only co-founded Ms., the first female-led magazine, but she also started up the National Women's Political Caucus -- with the mission of increasing the number of women in politics.

3. It's in her blood

Today she's seen as a feminist icon, but she's not the first woman in her family to stand up for gender equality. In 1908, Steinem's paternal grandmother spent four years as president of the Ohio Women's Suffrage Association.

4. Activist

Giving women a platform to speak and be heard wasn't Steinem's only mission. She also lent her voice to a number of other political causes. Most notably, in 1968, she took a public stance against the Vietnam War when she vowed to stop paying tax.

Later in 1984, she was arrested alongside several other civil rights activists for disorderly conduct outside the South African embassy in Washington while protesting against apartheid.

5. The 'f' word

Though Steinem is credited as helping women find a voice in a traditionally male dominated society, she also redefined what it meant to be a "feminist."

She taught us that feminism isn't just for women when she said: "A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men."

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