A more unlikely pair you cannot find, I think. Yet Flannery O'Connor and Gloria Steinem share a birthday today. And each has been a heroine to me.
I suspect many people who know me well would say I am a feminist. Yes, I am. But I am not a strident one. I never burned my bra, for example. If pressed to define what kind of feminist I am, I may just offer my life--upon graduating from college, and getting married, and starting a family--I never stopped working. I worked the year my son was born--he was born at the end of January, I took February off and then resumed teaching. When my daughter was born, I worked the day before she was born, took three months off and then returned to working.
So I guess I would say that I am a feminist in terms of life choices--not marching, not philosophizing, just being.
Gloria Steinem was/is a feminist heroine for me. She is a very attractive woman--belying the old myth that all feminists must be ugly (take that, Rush!). In fact, early in her career she was a Playboy bunny. That particular detail always horrified and amused me. She was/is whip smart. As the founder of Ms Magazine, she may have had as much influence on current populist feminism as any one person.
On the other end of the spectrum of this shared birthday is Flannery O'Connor. As a lit major in college, I came upon her darkly grim and humorous stories. I knew little of her life then, but in graduate school I did a lengthy paper on her and learned a bit. Flannery was painfully unattractive. And she suffered from lupus that would eventually rob her of mobility, and cause her premature death. She lived a somewhat solitary life, staying on the family farm in Milledgeville, Georgia. After her father's death, it was just Flannery and her mother plus a menagerie that included peacocks.
With all of her writing done in the first half of the 20th century, her stories anticipated the kind of disassociation that characterizes literature of the 20th century. One of the most famous of her short stories "A Good Man is Hard to Find" has the kind of grim ending that we have almost come to expect with current movies--example No Country for Old Men.
Yet through all this dark view of humanity, Flannery was a fiercely devout Catholic, and you can find glimpses of the possibility of redemption everywhere in her fiction. Her body of writings is not extensive, since she died in 1964 at age 39. Yet she influenced many of today's writers.
Two of my heroines--born on the same day.