Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions Critical Essays

Gloria Steinem


(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

The title Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions deserves analysis. Gloria Steinem means to tell the reader that outrageousness and rebelliousness are positive characteristics for women, who have been trained for many generations to be polite, quiet, and obedient. Although she is not as outrageous and rebellious as some feminist authors, such as Mary Daly, Steinem nevertheless claims the words as the title for her collection of essays.

Steinem grew up in a lower-middle-class home in Toledo, Ohio, during the Depression, and in “Ruth’s Song (Because She Could Not Sing It),” Steinem explores her experience living in a fragmented family with a mentally ill mother. The reader learns how it felt for the young girl, who from age ten to age seventeen lived alone with her mother and took on all the adult responsibilities. Steinem writes of her ambivalence about her mother at that time. Yet this essay is not merely a sharing of childhood pain; it takes the reader with Gloria Steinem as she begins to understand her mother’s life from her mother’s own perspective, to find the person within the woman with whom she had grown up. She finds out about the facts of her mother’s life before her illness, the pressures placed on her to conform to societal expectations of womanhood, and the self-limiting choices that eventually led to her mental breakdown. She shares Ruth with the reader so that the reader too can begin to know and appreciate this woman.

”In Praise of Women’s Bodies” takes the reader to a women’s health spa with the author, to watch with her as her fellow clients slowly come to accept their own bodies in their varieties of shapes, sizes, and types. At first embarrassed...

(The entire section is 704 words.)