OWN
03/25/2016 09:44 am ET

Gloria Steinem: It's Our 'Collective Fate' To Be Like Our Mothers

Herself included, Steinem says.

Many women spend a lot of time saying, "I'm not going to be anything like my mother." Whether meant as an act of defiance or simple fact, this statement is actually untrue, according to feminist icon Gloria Steinem.

"It's not an individual fault," she says in the above clip from Oprah's "SuperSoul Sunday." "It's a collective fate."

Steinem's own experience may seem to contradict that idea, initially. After all, the 82-year-old has been an outspoken women's rights activist for decades, traveling the world and devoting most of her life to the cause. Her mother, conversely, gave up her career and personal goals to stay home and raise children.

"My mother was a pioneer journalist before I was born -- I didn't even know that until much later. She gave up everything, not because my father forced her to but because that was the way the world ran," Steinem says. "She had what was then called a 'nervous breakdown.' She was really institutionalized for a couple of years, and then, just to survive became her goal."

So, how did Steinem become anything like the woman she describes?

"I began to realize that, actually, I was living her unlived life," she explains. 

This is a situation that applies to a lot of modern women, Steinem adds. "Hopefully, that will pass because women will be able to live out their own lives," she says. "But it's still true, I think, for a lot of us."

Once Steinem began to realize how her path so closely related to her mother's, she gained a new perspective about what we all need from life in general.

"It made me understand that my mother had no journey of her own. My [traveling salesman] father had no home of his own," she says. "We all need both." 

"SuperSoul Sunday" airs Sundays at 11 a.m. ET on OWN.

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