That’s why women today who create media by producing, writing, and directing are of the utmost importance to creating the future of our choice.
Some women in leading roles on and off screen—like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Lena Dunham, and Shonda Rhimes—use their writing to make women the protagonists of their stories. Their takes on what those roles mean to women and feminism, however, are quite diverse.
Today’s U.S. Congress is made up of less than 20% of female members—18% to be exact—a far cry from the parity we strive toward. Any conversation about Women’s History Month must include the rather dismal representation of women in American politics across the board.
The Congressional delegation from New Hampshire are the exception to that 20% barrier. Last November, two women won Congressional seats, joining the two women who already held New Hampshire’s two Senate seats. To top it all off, the state’s governor, speaker of the State House, and chief justice of the State Supreme Court are all women as well.
These women have made history by making New Hampshire the first state with an all-female Congressional delegation.
While this should be celebrated as a historic win for women and women’s rights, the beliefs of these women are diverse, to say the least. On one hand, there’s Carol Shea-Porter, who stands with EMILY’s List and the National Women’s Political Caucus, among other feminist organizations. And then there’s Kelly Ayotte,
Martha Burke has balls. And thanks to her leadership, now at least two women will have the privilege of chasing golf balls around the Augusta National Golf Club’s manicured course.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier and former banker Darla Moore have become the first female members in the club’s 80-year history.
Burk, who for the last nine years persisted in organizing to gain membership for women in the club that represents the pinnacle of power and influence, can finally, deservedly, celebrate success.
Burk explained the history in Women’s eNews last April when the august male-only golf club once again refused to let a woman wear its vaunted green members’ jacket at its annual Masters Tournament:
Well, the big day for the big boys at Augusta National Golf Club came and went without a woman showing up in the green jacket that denotes membership. The particular woman in question was Virginia Rometty, CEO of IBM, the leading corporate sponsor of Augusta’s Masters Golf Tournament.
For those who don’t follow news of puffed-up men chasing little balls around a green course, the club has always been male-only, and resisted extreme pressure nine years ago from women’s groups, led by the National Council of Women’s Organizations, to open up to female members.
The debate raged for nearly a year, complete with death threats to the NCWO chair, yours truly.
Crowley, 61, has won many awards for political reporting during stellar career. She graduated from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College—my friend Amy Litzenberger is sure that women find their voices in all-female college settings—and rose from a Washington DC radio newsroom assistant through the Associated Press and NBC ranks before joining CNN news in 1987. Along the way, she covered every presidential campaign and convention since Jimmy Carter.
On the same day Crowley’s selection was announced, Cosmopolitan Magazine’s iconic former editor-in-chief and the author of the 1962 game-changing best seller Sex and the Single Girl, Helen Gurley Brown, died in Manhattan at age 90.
After a week in which women debated Anne-Marie Slaughter’s contention about Why Women Still Can’t Have It All, a wave of powerful articles challenging Slaughter are finally appearing. Dana Theus says that women who are at or as near the top as Facebook COO (and its latest board member) Sheryl Sandberg and Slaughter need to woman up and “own this power they have to choose how to spend their energy, and talk about it in powerful ways that honor people’s choices, then we’ll begin to build a culture that honors, supports and encourages the ‘balance of powers‘ needed at the top.”
I’m a little biased about Jamia Wilson having had the pleasure of knowing her and working with her as we both went through several career transitions during the last decade.
She’s an inspiration to me because of her seamless commitment to social justice and her positive way of putting her ideas into action.
Her responses to my questions continue the series in which I ask people I interviewed for No Excuses what they’ve learned since then. You can connect with Jamia on Facebook and Twitter.
Gloria Feldt: In No Excuses, I asked, “When did you know you had the power to _____?” What have you learned about your power to _____ during the past year or so?
Jamia Wilson: In the past year or so, I have learned so much about faith and perseverance. I have faced many triumphs and challenges during a transitional time in my life and have learned so much.
The rough edges and moments where I stared fear in the face taught me about the importance of courage and authenticity above all else. I have learned that I have the power to choose to be who I am authentically without apology and let that guide me towards realizing my dreams and my highest power.
As Janis Joplin said, “Don’t compromise yourself, you’re all you’ve got”. 2010-2011’s greatest gift to me was an appreciation for my own resilience and that to me is one of my most sacred superpowers.
GF: Was there a moment when you felt very powerful recently?
Big thanks and kudos to Catherine Engh for contributing some terrific posts this Women’s History Month. As we end WHM for 2012, here’s one more from Catherine that I know you’ll enjoy, and I hope you’ll think about and take a moment to share your comments. I’ve written a different take on Slutwalk but Catherine has almost persuaded me…
This last year, women around the world made history, protesting victim-blaming online as well as on foot. The Slutwalk movement began after a Toronto police officer told a group of college women that if they hoped to escape sexual assault, they should avoid dressing like “sluts.”
Victim-blaming last year was by no means isolated to this public incident. A young woman who pressed rape charges against two New York City police officers could not be believed, in part, because she was drunk. When an 11-year-old Texas girl was allegedly gang-raped by 19 men, The New York Times ran a story quoting neighbors saying that she habitually wore makeup and dressed in clothes more appropriate for a 20-year-old. The maid who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of rape has been discredited for being a liar, and The New York Post claimed she was a prostitute.
The women and men who marched in Slutwalks in more than 70 cities around the world last year were fed up with this kind of symbolic violence. The Slutwalk movement was organized around one central message:
When I speak on college campuses, I score points with students when they find out I know Courtney Martin, author, among several books, of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters and Do It Anyway. Though she’s the youngest of the four of us on the WomenGirlsLadies intergenerational feminist panel, she is usually the most together. The one who knows where we’re supposed to be when, gets the power point together, and remains calm when things go awry.
Follow Courtney @courtwrites and find her commentaries on The American Prospect and many other publications. Courtney is the Founding Director of the Solutions Journalism Network, along with New York Times columnist David Bornstein. In addition, she is the leader of the Op-Ed Project’s Public Voices Fellowship Program at Princeton University–coaching women academics to become part of public debate. She is a partner in Valenti Martin Media, a communications consulting firm focused on making social justice organizations more effective in movement building and making change and is an Editor Emeritus at Feministing.com.
Here’s what Courtney says she learned since I interviewed her for No Excuses: