Writer, feminist, and activist Susan Brownmiller was born in Brooklyn, New York, on February 15, 1935, the only child of Mae and Samuel Warhaftig. She attended Cornell University (1952-1954), and after leaving school, studied acting in New York City. While training as an actor, she took the stage name Brownmiller, legally changing her name in 1961. Brownmiller's interest in journalism and editorial work began with a position at a confession magazine. Beginning in 1968, she worked as a freelance writer; her book reviews, essays, and articles appeared regularly in publications including the New York Times, Newsday, the New York Daily News, Vogue, and the Nation.
Brownmiller published her first book, Shirley Chisholm: A Biography, in 1970. During the late 1960s, Brownmiller became active in the women's liberation movement. Brownmiller became inspired to explore the topic of rape after helping to organize a 1971 conference on rape with the New York Radical Feminists (an organization of which she was a co-founder). In 1975, she published the feminist classic, Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape. The product of four years of research, the controversial Against Our Will argued that rape was a "conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear." . In 1975 she was named one of Time Magazine's twelve Women of the Year.
Her continuing interest in women's issues led her to help found Women Against Pornography in 1979. In 1992, Brownmiller visited Vietnam for Travel & Leisure magazine.
Brownmiller received numerous awards and fellowships. In writing Against Our Will, she was awarded both an Alicia Patterson grant for journalism and a Louis M. Rabinowitz Foundation grant in 1973. She received the Mademoiselle Achievement Award (1975), the Women In Communication Matrix Award (1984), and the Travel Story Grand Award from the Pacific American Travel Association (1994). Foundation for the Arts (1991). As of 2005, she is an Adjunct Professor of Women's & Gender Studies at Pace University in New York City,