Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions Analysis
by Gloria Steinem

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Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions Analysis

(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 because they are not perfect, these women gradually open up, at least in this all-woman environment, becoming willing to appear before one another despite scars, stretch marks, protruding stomachs, wrinkled skin, and other human physical characteristics that women have learned to think of as ugly. As in “Ruth’s Song,” Steinem offers a feminist analysis of an ordinary event. She asks why it is that men’s scars, signs of battle and violence, are emblems of pride, whereas the scars and stretch marks that women earn in the process of giving birth are signs of shame and embarrassment and ugliness. This point of view makes it possible for Steinem and her readers to look at women’s scars in a whole new light.

Marilyn Monroe has been analyzed and reanalyzed in the years since her death in 1962, but Gloria Steinem gives the reader a feminist analysis of this woman who epitomizes the very opposite of a feminist role model. Many of the essays in this book explore the subject that would be...

(The entire section is 704 words.)