Feminist Gloria Steinem has opened up about her life choices and revealed that being childless does not mean she’s ‘unfulfilled.’
The 86-year-old, who was a defining figure of female liberation in the late 1960s and 1970s, reflected on her life, fears and success during the How To Fail podcast, by Elizabeth Day, which is released this week.
The activist, who was recently portrayed by Rose Byrne on Mrs America, told how she realised not having children was an option when she joined the Female Liberation Movement, after being raised in the 1950s where marrying and having kids was considered the norm for women.
She added there is a bias against women in the language use in fertility medicine, where females more often than not are the ones who bear the blame when it comes to difficulty conceiving.
Speaking of the fact she does not have children, Steinem says it was not a conscious choice she’d made as a young woman.
‘There were a lot of years that I just kept putting it off into the future, “Oh yes I’m going to do that, just not at this moment”,’ she said.
‘It wasn’t a decision in the beginning: remember I was growing up in the 1950s, not even the 60s, so I assumed women had to marry and have children, that there wasn’t an option.’
But Gloria went on to explain that the women’s movement opened her eyes to the fact that being childless was a choice she could make.
She continued: ‘Fortunately, the women’s movement came along and said “wait a minute not all women have to live the same way: you have a choice.’
Steinem says that she realised she was happy as she was – without children – adding that she never felt ‘unfulfilled’ and was ‘OK’ with the way she was living.
‘I think so, in a way that people assume I must be unhappy or unfulfilled. Not everyone but some people I think assume that… in a way that they wouldn’t assume about a man,’ she commented.
She went on to explain that she had never regretted her decision to not become a mother.
Elizabeth Day and Gloria then went on to discuss fertility treatment and the ‘insidious’ way in which medical language is used to put the blame on women when a couple can not conceive.
They agreed that fertility language often refers to women’s reproductive organ as defective when a couple encounter issues procreating.
‘Are men told their sperm are “incompetent”,’ Steinem asked, adding she felt society was ‘assigning blame’ onto women when it came to discussion on infertility.