As the absurdity of right-wing political figures’ pathological obsession with women’s uteruses continues, many people ask why this is happening now and what to do about it. In this Woman of the Weekinterview with Anna Louie Sussman for the Women in the World Foundation, Gloria speaks about how women can act, using what we’ve got (that’s Power Tool #3) to embrace our power to insist on our right to our bodies, our right to financial stability.
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The article, excerpted here, was originally published January 24, 2012, and can be read in full on the Women in the World website.
Everything you need to know about Gloria Feldt can be gleaned from her email signature: “Warmest Regards and No Excuses, Gloria.” Her superlative compassion and conviction, combined with her intelligence and charisma, have carried her from teenage motherhood in West Texas to a thirty-year career with the reproductive health provider and advocacy group Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which she directed from 1996 until 2005, when she resigned.
Her most recent book, No Excuses, examines women’s relationship to power with an honesty and nuance often glossed over in media discussions. We talked with her about the current state of reproductive freedom in America and how women can transform their relationship with power.
Women in the World Foundation: What led you to this issue of women and power?
Gloria Feldt: In 2008, I was writing an article for Elle magazine about the many organizations that help women run for office. They are legion, and they raise millions of dollars, but women are still less than half as likely to even think about running for office as men. What I found was that the problem is no longer that women have a hard time running: the doors are open. Voters trust women more, women are now as capable of raising money, and when they do run, they are just as likely to win.
Not long ago I sat down with freelance writer Corine Garcia for this interview. The article originally appeared as a blog post at Womenetics.
Years ago, as a teenage mother without a college education, one could only imagine that Gloria Feldt felt somewhat limited in career options. But with the right amount of optimism, the proper use of power and her penchant for saying “Yes” to every opportunity, Feldt paved her way to leadership success as the former president and CEO of Planned Parenthood.
“I am a college woman living in the worst state for women: Mississippi (as determined by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research), and I am passionate about empowering our women and girls!”
So began the e-mail that made my day, March 29 to be exact. It was from Lily Womble, whom I’d never met but immediately knew was a force to be reckoned with. In a very good way.
Lily told me about her blog, Smart Girls Out Loud and her plans to attend the AWID (Association of Women’s Rights in Development) conference in Istanbul April 19—22.
There is no way I could tell you this whole story in one post. So this is part one of a two-part series. Here I’ll introduce you to this very out-loud and proudly feminist young woman whose declared intention
“What do you want to be?” we ask our daughters and sons when they are growing up.
It seems only right that as Women’s History Month draws to a close, we don’t just look backward but that we also focus forward to ask what we as women want to be and what women of the future might or should become.
This article on Canadian women’s economic power indicates economic parity is on the way. A new study published in the Harvard Business Review says women are better leaders than men on almost every measure of leadership. But does that translate to women moving from the current 18% to parity in top leadership positions?
Since the power to define the woman of tomorrow is to a large extent in our hands (See Power Tool #3) and based upon the history we make today (see power tool #1), I’m asking what you think:
Just in time to celebrate International Woman’s Day, Catherine Eng contributes this blog post that celebrates a medical solution to family planning that many take for granted and yet remains out of reach 52 years later to millions of women around the world.
Country music legend Loretta Lynn was known for lyrics that bluntly addressed issues in the lives of many women. She believed no topic was off limits, as long as it spoke to other women.
In 1975, Lynn released The Pill, a single considered to be the first song to discuss birth control. The song tells a story of a wife who is upset about her husband getting her pregnant year after year, but is now happy because she can control her own reproductive choices. The song’s frank discussion of birth control was unprecedented at a time when many would have considered contraception a risqué subject matter. Some radio stations refused to play her song on these grounds.
“There’s gonna be some changes made right here on nursery hill…‘cause now I’ve got the pill.”
Be sure to click on the video link below to listen and laugh.
In an interview later in life, Lynn recounted how she had been congratulated after the song’s success by a number of rural physicians, telling her how The Pill had done more to highlight the availability of birth control in isolated, rural areas, than all the literature they’d released.
Fifty-two years after the inception of the pill in America, conservative newscaster Rush Limbaugh felt free to call Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown university student who asked her university to cover hormonal birth-control, a prostitute and a whore. His ignorant comment reminds us that there still exist widespread misconceptions and stigmas surrounding contraception. Let’s take the opportunity on International Women’s day to clear up any misconceptions, to examine the many social benefits of contraception and family planning.
We often think of power as being a concept that is disembodied and theoretical. But it’s also very physical.
I previously posted here about Ellen Snortland, whose book, Beauty Bites Beast, about the psychological value as well as the physical importance of women becoming proficient at self-defense I always recommend to my students when I teach Women, Power, and Leadership.
Now comes Dr. Ruthless with yet more practical tools for what she refers to as the “Killer Instinct…to preserve and protect life.” And, she says, women need to forge their fear into fire. Read on…and share your experiences with physical fear and strength.
Q&A With Dr. Ruthless on her “Dharma of Defense” and Why we Must Venerate the Warrior Spirit
What happens when you combine primal self-defense methods with the insights of a psychotherapist and the heart of a warrior?
Meet Dr. Ruthless, also known as Melissa Soalt. An award-winning women’s self-defense expert and Black Belt Hall of Fame recipient, Dr. Ruthless emerged at the forefront of the women’s self defense movement in the mid 1980′s and has created her own “Dharma of Defense.” You can see her in action in her acclaimed DVD, Fierce & Female.
Her teachings encompass the physical and spiritual dimensions of self-defense. She unabashedly advocates for women to leverage their Killer Instinct —not for the sake of destruction, but to preserve and protect life. In this interview, Dr. Ruthless shares her perspective on the female warrior spirit and why we must learn to mobilize our survival instinct and forge fear into fire.
Brooke Axtell: What attracted you to training in self-defense and teaching other women how to defend themselves?
Dr. Ruthless: In my late teens, I lived in the Middle East and traveled around Asia. I was attacked multiple times and violently groped. I learned I was a scrappy bitch. I successfully fought off rape attempts in Israel and Pakistan and I suffered a lot of indignities. Women who have been violated know what it’s like to be reduced to anti-matter. It’s utterly dehumanizing. I also witnessed appalling inequities, the ways women are controlled by men. This birthed my undying reverence for female disobedience and the need for women’s self defense.
I can’t wait to read Joanne Tombrakos’s new and first novel, The Secrets They Kept and you are going to see why below. After reading Joanne’s story, I think you’ll join me in running out to buy her book. At least I hope so.
Joanne and I met at an 85 Broads breakfast a couple of years ago when we shared our stories of making purposeful life transitions. I’ve admired her writing on her blog ever since. And just look at how she’s applied the 9 Ways Power Tools!
When Gloria Feldt extended the invitation for me to be profiled in this column I quickly accepted. And who wouldn’t? After all this was Gloria Feldt. Best selling author and activist for whom I hold such high esteem.
I was honored. I was excited. Until the waves of nausea washed over me. What was I doing that was worthy of a profile in this column? Certainly not curing cancer or feeding the starving in Africa.
Not a particularly commanding statement when invited to write on a blog whose subject matter is about women and power.
But forced, as I have been to think about it, the truth is I am doing it. My way…
I had the honor to meet Sergeant Bernadette Smith at the YWCA Women’s Leadership Conference in Tucson. We had written back and forth, as she had contacted me via this website after discovering No Excuses in a local bookstore. Once I met her in person I knew she was someone you had to meet. She is the epitome of “Power-To” utilized gracefully in a very male-centric profession. As you’ll see she also has a keen sense of humor about it.
Here is her inspiring story for this week’s “She’s Doing It.”
Just two weeks ago, I was greeting the morning as I walked along the sparkling oceanfront in Santa Barbara. I’d spent the day before at the most remarkable Leadership Workshop put on by She Negotiates. Oh it was so beautiful, so restorative. I needed that hour of free flowing bliss before I strapping myself back into the plane for the seven hour trip back to New York. I spent most of the trip back thinking about the workshop.
Though I’d given the keynote and led part of the workshop, I was also there as a learner, wishing I’d had the negotiating skills She Negotiates partners Vickie Pynchon and Lisa Gates taught the group when I was starting out in my career. Do you know that failure to negotiate first salaries aggressively costs women on average $500,000 over our lifetime earnings? And that the more education you have and the higher on the career ladder you are, the more it costs you–as much as $1,000,000!
Well, here’s the good news: there’s a new surge of women determined to help us not just negotiate about money better but also to be a lot smarter about managing what we have. This week’s roundup is a collection of some of the best. Check them out, and learn.
Wednesday, Oct. 2-Nov. 13, 2013Gloria will teach a 6-week online course "9 Practical Leadership Power Tools to Advance Your Career".This is a Take The Lead event in partnership with Arizona State University Online. Participants will receive a certificate to enhance their resumes along with practical skills and understanding of power dynamics in the workplace. Don't miss this opportunity and register today!