Barbra Streisand: Politics & Philanthropy Are Her Twin Passions

What presidential candidates received support from Barbra Streisand? What charitable causes does she give toward?

According to Barbra Streisand, politics and philanthropy are her twin passions. Despite her extraordinary career, Barbra Streisand—who’s now in her 80s—doesn’t discuss her work when talking about her legacy. Instead, she emphasizes her desire to leave a kinder and fairer world for future generations.

Read more to learn about the causes that Streisand holds close to her heart.

Barbra Streisand’s Politics

For Barbra Streisand, politics is not a private matter. She describes herself as a feminist and a liberal; she holds up her life and career as testaments to those words.

Professionally, she shattered numerous glass ceilings in the entertainment industry, proving that women can be just as creative and successful as men. To people who respond negatively to her desire for creative control by calling her overbearing or a “control freak,” she asks why it’s a bad thing for a woman to manage her own projects when it’s expected for a man to do so.

(Shortform note: Though Streisand made great strides for women in the entertainment industry, it’s unfortunately still common for them to be mistreated and taken advantage of. For example, in The Woman in Me, pop star Britney Spears goes into detail about how her father—who also acted as her manager—forced her into a legal conservatorship so that he could remain in control of her life and her career. She suffered his control and his abuse for more than a decade before a court finally freed her from the conservatorship in 2021.) 

Streisand openly supports liberal politicians. She performed at a fundraiser for Bill Clinton when he was running for president; she also supported Hilary Clinton’s 2008 campaign, then shifted her support to Barack Obama when he won the nomination. She adds that she was horrified by Donald Trump’s presidency and wrote the song “Don’t Lie to Me” in protest against him. 

(Shortform note: To give an example of her political views, Streisand’s official website has rehosted an article from the New York Times—written shortly before the 2016 election—discussing the impact of liberal feminism and Obama’s presidency on white men in the US. In brief, the article says that many white men, who are generally used to having power, respect, and money, have failed (or refused) to change with the times. Therefore, Trump’s popularity was the result of men’s fury at a world that they believe is leaving them behind. While the facts and details of that article are open for debate, the fact that Streisand’s website is hosting it implies that Streisand believes what it says.)  

Barbra Streisand’s Philanthropy

Streisand says that she’s used her money to support many causes she believes in, mostly related to feminism or environmentalism. 

(Shortform note: Streisand’s net worth is an estimated $430 million as of 2023, and she prides herself on using that wealth to make the world a better place.) 

Perhaps her greatest philanthropic achievement was founding the Barbra Streisand Foundation in 1986. It provides grants to a wide range of organizations, and it will be able to carry on Streisand’s philanthropic work after she passes away. 

(Shortform note: The Streisand Foundation supports causes ranging from US voting reform to fighting climate change. The Foundation’s grants are so sought-after that it had to update its guidelines to make grant requests invitation-only.)

Streisand says that she’s also appalled by gender inequality in medicine. She lobbied politicians and provided research funding from her own wealth, thereby helping to drastically reduce the number of American women who die of heart disease. This was necessary because, until very recently, practically all medical research and treatments were focused on male bodies. As a result, the standard of care for women is substantially lower than it is for men.

(Shortform note: In Invisible Women, journalist Caroline Criado Perez explains that many pharmaceutical companies don’t test their products on women, and they simply assume that drugs will be equally effective on women and men. This is because hormones change drastically throughout the menstrual cycle, and researchers are concerned that those fluctuations will muddle the test results. However, because there are biological differences between male and female bodies, in many cases, treatments that were tested on men aren’t as effective on women—or, worse, may be actively harmful. Streisand’s lobbying and funding helped to draw attention to this problem and was one step toward closing the gap in the standard of care.) 

Furthermore, Streisand endowed the Barbra Streisand Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). This is a center where people research topics that Streisand believes are the most pressing issues of today, including climate change, gender studies, and truthfulness in public discourse.

(Shortform note: The Barbra Streisand Center for Truth in the Public Sphere—the first of four planned centers of the Barbra Streisand Institute—had its inaugural lecture on September 12, 2023. Streisand gave the opening remarks, wherein she discussed the importance of truth in politics and the damage caused by lies, especially what she called the “Big Lie” that Biden had stolen the 2020 election.)

Barbra Streisand: Politics & Philanthropy Are Her Twin Passions

———End of Preview———

Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Barbra Streisand's "My Name Is Barbra" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full My Name Is Barbra summary:

  • The autobiography of Barbra Streisand, a rare EGOT winner
  • Streisand's childhood, romantic relationships, and extensive career
  • Why Streisand began singing despite having little to no formal training

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *