Gloria Steinem, Gone With The Wind, inspirational women, International Women's Day, Malala Yousafzai, Manal al-Sharif, Marie Curie, Meg Whitman, Melissa McCarthy, Oprah Winfrey, postaday, Women's History Month
… which are not mutually exclusive anymore.
But … Once Upon A Time … in a not too distant past … there was a young curly-haired girl named Holly.
And Holly had dreams.
She wanted to be a meteorologist … or a cryptographer … or a cartographer … or a geologist … or maybe even a politician … but none of that was allowed.
Good little girls didn’t do things like that.
Girls were allowed to be Nurses, Secretaries and Teachers. Period.
Oh, and Mommies. They were definitely allowed to be Mommies.
And the proof was everywhere. After all, you didn’t see women Doctors or Lawyers or Scientists.
Well, there was Marie Curie … but, it was explained, that was because her husband was a scientist. So it was okay.
So there were no women professionals. But there were lots of Mommies. And Teachers. And at the Doctors office, the Doctors were men and the Nurses were women. The Bosses were men and the Secretaries were women.
That’s just the way it was. The way it was supposed to be.
And then … she went to see a movie. With her Mommy, of course.
Gone With The Wind.
Now you have probably figured out that the girl named Holly is me. That’s no big stretch.
But you probably don’t know that Gone With The Wind affected me in ways that few would have expected.
Scarlett O’Hara. This was the first time I had ever seen a woman in a strong role in my life.
She spoke her mind.
She stood up for herself.
She owned a business.
She dared to incur others disapproval.
She flirted with boys. (Gasp)
And she succeeded.
She became my hero.
Back then the pronoun of choice was still “he”. And everything was described as though a male was doing it. There were no politically correct alterations between “he” and “she” … or the more general “they”.
I still went through my own awkward years. I think they finally went away a few months ago. I went to college after the High School Guidance Counselor sat my parents down and told them why they should let me go. Even though I was a girl.
I majored in Mathematics … to become a teacher of course … and ended up working for a large multi-national corporation. In a non-traditional job. The two women hired the same day as the two men … for the same job with the same qualifications … were hired for $50 less a month than the men. We weren’t supposed to talk about how much we made, but the others did. And I listened.
It was the early seventies and women were starting to fight the good fight. As I did. I have always had a “non-traditional” job. They don’t say “she is taking a good job away from a man” like they used to. There is still a pay gap.
But now, there are women role models.
There were always women role models … Moms, Sisters, Grandmothers, Aunts and Friends. And there have been role models who are no longer alive.
In my case I think of several. Outspoken American writer Dorothy Parker is probably best know for her pithy one-liners. Katherine Hepburn was not only a great actress, but a woman who lived as she wanted … strong-willed and strong-minded. At different times Erma Bombeck, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa and Indira Gandhi have all inspired me.
I have a friend who changes her Facebook picture each day in the month of March to reflect an inspirational woman. She has done this for a few years. Some women living, some dead, some fictional … all inspirational.
And it made me realize that I could indeed come up with a list of living women … women who can serve as role models for their accomplishments … who can inspire young women to know that they, too, can achieve greatness.
We need women like this.
So without further ado … here is my list … my list of famous women … ones I feel are inspirational.
- Malala Yousafzai – who is technically not a woman. But her strength of character in the face of the Taliban is worthy of a Nobel Prize, in my humble opinion.
- Elizabeth Warren – who is rapidly becoming my favorite politician … by speaking up for those of us who cannot.
- Melissa McCarthy – and you are saying … who? … yes, the actress who shows that weight need not stop you from your dreams.
- JK Rowling – who showed us that even if you start on welfare, you can accomplish great things.
- Ellen DeGeneres – who uses humor and courage to break down social barriers.
- Sarah Palin – I debated putting her on the list … because I do not agree with her politics for the most part. But in some circles, she has inspired young women to get involved in politics. Everyone needs role models.
- Rachel Maddow – I have just started watching this amazing intelligent woman this past year. I am in awe of her outspoken, intelligent, precise way of conveying … well … what I wish I could say … half that well.
- Michelle Obama – I really like our First Lady. She has taken on a role that many were viewing as doomed to failure. The first Black First Lady. The stereotypes alone could have dissuaded even the strongest among us. But she handles it with grace, humor and kindness.
- Sonia Sotomayor – who showed us that even coming from a humble beginning, you can rise to the highest level in your chosen profession.
- Gabby Gifford – who inspires us with her ability to say in a few words what others fail to say in many. She continues to speak for those who cannot … despite her physical challenges.
- Gabby Douglas – who won the Gold Medal based on ability, regardless of color.
- Betty White – the lady who makes us laugh … and who laughs at age as a limiting factor.
- Maya Angelou – creative, inspiring, and solid. These are the three words that come to mind.
- Oprah Winfrey – who not only attained great wealth, but also maintains the true nature of noblesse oblige.
- Barbara Mikulski – the longest-serving woman Senator from MD. Who encourages the newer women Senators to achieve what can be achieved … even though women only are 17 of the 100 Senators.
- Gloria Steinem – although not much is heard from her now, she was a voice in the wilderness back in the day that we all began fighting the good fight.
- Indra Nooyi – During the past decade at PepsiCo, first as president and CFO and today as chairman and CEO, she has successfully restructured the company, directed its global strategy, and increased annual revenues and net profits exponentially.
- Manal al-Sharif – Growing up in Saudi Arabia, Manal al-Sharif was taught in school that listening to music — just like driving, showing her face in public or making a decision without consulting her male guardian — was forbidden and sinful. http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/10/world/meast/sharif-saudi-women-drive
- Kate Middleton – Yes, Kate. She brings a youthful vigor and grace far beyond her years to a job which few could handle.
- Hillary Clinton – The woman I think just might be our next President. One of my personal favorites. For a variety of reasons.
- Valentina Tereshkova – the first woman astronaut. Back when women were not allowed here in the states, she did it in Russia.
- Meg Whitman – who ran eBay, ran for office and ran her life as though being a woman was not an issue.
- Lt. Col. Eileen Collins: First woman to pilot a spacecraft and the first woman astronaut to command a space shuttle mission.
- Condoleezza Rice – who broke through the race barrier as Secretary of State.
- Maggie Thatcher – who in her day was quite an accomplished politician … back when we had few women to look up to.
You can add your own “z”. I am sure I have missed some terribly obvious women. I am just happy that there are women who have risen through the ranks … who serve as role models for our daughters and ourselves.
I had always said that women and men will have achieved true equality when an average woman can fail just like an average man can fail.
We are getting there.