Gloria Steinem is an American writer, a lecturer, and co-founder of MS magazine. She's one of the leading figures of the women's movement and helped bring feminism into the mainstream consciousness thanks to her good looks and popular writing. In 1968, she was called "a chick with the good vibrations."

On September 29th, Steinem was in Toronto to speak at a fundraiser for the Canadian Women's Foundation. At the event, participants told W5 that Steinem is a "rock-star " and they called her "an icon and an inspiration for women and the battle for women's rights."

Gloria Steinem hates being referred to as an icon. Even though she has been the face of the women's movement for decades she's relatively unknown among a younger demographic. But it doesn't trouble Steinem.

"I don't care if they know who I am. I just want them to know who they are. That's the whole point. I mean it's good that we know our history, yes. I wish I'd known mine. It would have saved me a lot of trouble. But I'm much more concerned about the future, than I am about the past.'

W5 spoke with some young women on the streets of Toronto and most of them didn't consider themselves feminists. But, Steinem isn't fazed. She said that women become more political as they age. "You have to experience what's wrong to get mad, and [young women] haven't been in the paid labour force that long usually, or maybe they haven't had children yet and discovered who cares for them and who doesn't." she said.

Steinem insists there's a still a need for the feminist movement because she says that women own one percent of the property and do seventy percent of the paid and unpaid work and get only 10 per cent of the monetary rewards.

But she admits we have been progressing, in particular, our attitudes towards successful and ambitious women. In 1971, Steinem said that a woman who aspires to do something is called a bitch. Forty years later, she says women are now more free to aspire and use their talents. These days, women are reclaiming words "bitch" and "slut." Steinem is doing the same.

"A man called me the slut from East Toledo. [and], I thought â€ĶI'm putting it on my tombstone – here lies a slut from East Toledo. You can take the sting out of the words."

Gender relations are still at the forefront of many political debates. For example, while an overwhelming majority of Canadians support banning the burqa, Steinem surprisingly brings it all back to what feminists were originally fighting for – choice.

"I mean wearing a burka may be the only way that a woman is allowed out of the house at all. It may be the only way she can get an education. She has to be allowed to decide that."

And while spouses everywhere wonder how the wives of men like Bill Clinton, Elliot Spitzer, and Dominque Strauss-Kahn can still remain loyal while their sex scandals are widely publicized. Steinem believes we need to focus on the nature of the sexual encounter and not on infidelity.

"No one has ever said, as far as I know, that Bill Clinton forced himself on anybody. Sexual expression is only a problem if it's harassment."

Steinem argues that the Strauss-Kahn case should not be compared to the Clinton scandal."[That] is a different kind of problem because he (Strauss-Kahn) clearly did, according to the testimony of women, force himself. It wasn't free will at all."

Steinem does have a message for young women: "We're born with that voice and it wants to come out," she said of women who want to make a difference.

And Steinem's words of wisdom?

"Stay true to yourself and surround yourself with people who believe in you. So we also need to hang out with people who respect us, who make us feel smart."