Inspiring Black HERStories

February is Black History Month and March is Women’s History Month. This post by Catherine Engh ties the two together in historical context with links to some amazing but little-known women’s stories. Wow. Feel free to add stories of other such women in the comment section.

And be sure to check back here often as I continue my annual Women’s History Month tradition of highlighting many amazing women—some well known and others not—who have shaped our history. And as you know, No Excuses Power Tool #1 is “Know your history and you can shape the future of your choice.”

Janell Hobson, blogger, social critic and professor of women’s studies, spotlights the lives of various fierce black women throughout history this February on Ms. Magazine’s blog. Hobson’s fascinating posts take as subject black female vocalists, vanguards of the second-wave feminist movement, jazz-age expatriates in Paris, fugitive slaves, civil rights organizers and contemporary environmental justice advocates.

Who knew about Sookie, a slave woman who resisted rape by pushing her master into a soapbox filled with boiling water?

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She’s Doing It: Keli Goff Sizes up Politics and the Power of Women (Plus Big No Excuses News!)

I’m leaping with joy: the paperback edition of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power is coming.


On Leap Day February 29, 2012!

Could there be a more perfect day for a book urging women to embrace their power?

Thank you for making No Excuses “the little book that could.” It had a 9-month stint on amazon.com’s leadership and feminist theory bestseller lists. It has inspired many, even changed a few lives, and moved me to create a new No Excuses Leadership Workshop in addition to keynotes and panels.

I interviewed amazing women for the book, and I was curious what they’ve learned about power and leadership since then. Today, the “She’s Doing It” weekly series will start answering that question.

The first is a woman I admire greatly for her astute political analysis and smart writing. Keli Goff is the author most recently of The GQ Candidate and you can catch her regularly on The Dylan Ratigan Show. She’s a contributing editor at Loop21.com and blogs at www.TheHuffingtonPost.com. Follow @KeliGoff on twitter. Now, read more from her here:

Gloria: Was there a moment when you felt very powerful recently?

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Fierce and Female: A Self-Defense Expert Challenges Women To Define What is Non-Negotiable

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.

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She’s doing It: Catherine Engh Wants More Female Characters Like Leslie Knopes

Catherine Engh is a feminist and an aspiring writer particularly interested in the ways that girls and women are represented in fiction and television. She wrote this piece for 9 Ways–it’s a great example of No Excuses Power Tool # 8: Employ Every Medium. Plus there are some useful tips on how to be a media activist.

Catherine also likes to do as much yoga as is possible–perhaps she’ll write about that next.

Why Television Needs more Leslie Knopes

Recently, I couldn’t help but notice that many of my favorite television shows are about men. Don Draper, Nucky Thompson, Walter White, Hank Moody and Vincent Chase are just a few male lead roles that come to mind.

It is not news that stories about the identity struggles of white men sell. Thus, they are more commonly aired than shows that explore women’s lives and choices. Though women are more likely to watch entertainment programming than men, the majority of those involved with television creation are male. Women’s Media Center reported that in the 2010-2011 year,

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She’s Doing It: Merle Hoffman – “It Takes Bad Girls to Get Good Things Done”

Often when I speak about No Excuses, I ask “When did you know you had the power to __(fill in the blank)___?”

Merle and I celebrating her book releaseThis question intrigues people, but rarely does anyone have as clear and direct answer as Merle Hoffman, this week’s “She’s Doing It.” She seems to have been born knowing, and born quite willing to buck the norm of being the archetypical nice and compliant “good girl” in favor of getting done the things she believes are important.

Merle, the President and CEO of Choices Women’s Medical Center, has recently published a memoir I highly recommend, Intimate Wars: The Life and Times of the Woman Who Brought Abortion Out of the Back Alley and Into the Boardroom.

Merle was kind enough to answer some questions about her life and times for 9 Ways:

Tell me your personal story…why and how did you come to be doing what you a doing?

I really fell into it serendipitously. My early years and adolescence were spent preparing to become a concert pianist. After I graduated from Music and Art, I also dabbled in painting and drama. When I finally decided to go to college at the age of 22, I need three part time jobs to pay for tuition—and one was with an internist , Dr. Martin Gold, for whom I worked as a medical assistant. At just this time (1970), abortion was decriminalized in New York which was three years before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion nationally. Dr. Gold, one of the architects of HIP, wanted to start a service for women subscribers. I got involved in the beginning of this project and it has become my life’s work.

What motivates you? What’s your passion?

I am motivated by very deep feelings of responsibility which began with the first patient who came to Choices.

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Friday Round Up on Monday: Women See Red and Get Over the Pink

UPDATE 2/7 : Karen Handel resigned her position at Komen this morning, angrily claiming she was right, everyone else was wrong, and that she would be telling her side of the story. Oh sister, this plot just keeps thickening!

It’s been quite a week for the women of America, as two women’s health care icons, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation and Planned Parenthood squared off. I’m not sure why Planned Parenthood waited so long to tell people the Komen Foundation had decided last December to discontinue funding them, but I do know if the women’s movement seizes this moment, which has obviously cracked open something much larger than any particular organization, it can create an amazing resurgence that will last another generation.

I wrote this in the Daily Beast today cheering you on: Women’s Tahir Square Moment…
(Your comments, shares, and links will be appreciated!)

At last, women saw enough red to get over the pink, the fear, the preference to play victim rather than embrace our own power. And that’s exactly how to stand down ideologues terrified of women getting a fair shake and the small but powerful fringe obsessed with other people’s sex lives. (read the rest here).


Here’s a round up of some of media that caught my attention during the past week. I’d love to capture other stories you particularly resonated with—so please post them in the comments section below.

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Settling the Score: Dorothy Seymour Mills Finally Tells Her Story

“Everyone assumed that he had done all that work by himself — that’s what he wanted them to assume, but we were equal partners” –Dorothy Seymour Mills

Photo source: Dorothy Jane Mills

Dorothy Seymour Mills is one of the great baseball historians of all time. But you probably never heard of her.

Instead, she worked alongside her late husband, Harold Seymour. From 1960-1990; he received all the credit and did become famous in his field. Together they completed three of the earliest and most widely read books on baseball history.

First in the Field is Dorothy’s belated claim to her own life’s work. In it, she reveals her approach to baseball history, pervasive attitudes about woman interested in baseball, her reasons for finally demanding the credit she deserves so late in life and her struggle for recognition after her husband’s death.

The short eBook reads more like a research paper than a memoir. But then, the author is after all first and foremost a historical researcher. First in the Field moves through her personal and professional history much as an encyclopedia entry might, chronologically from fact to fact, event to event. Readers will not find much in the way of literary language: Dorothy’s narrative is told without literary flourish or thematic subtlety.

Yet despite the stylistic simplicity, or perhaps because of its straightforwardness and lack of pretense, the story will tug at the heartstrings of anyone who has experienced discrimination. And in recognition that one’s personal story is also political, Dorothy ties the personal injustices she faced to the widespread marginalization of women

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Are You an Iron Lady?

The Golden Globe Awards this week featured the most gorgeous dresses I’ve ever seen (yes, I confess to being a fashion watcher) and Meryl Streep winning her 9th Golden Globe, for her extraordinary portrayal of the British rock-ribbed Conservative former …

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Workshop Invitation for You – No Excuses: 9 Ways to Boost Your Power in 2012

Digitistas

I’m excited to invite you to a No Excuses: 9 Ways to Boost Your Power in 2012 workshop I’ll be offering in collaboration with Digitistas in New York on 1/31. The deets- are below–please click here to register. (Oh, and as a Friend of Gloria, if you use the code NoExcuses when you sign up, you’ll get a $10 discount in addition to a copy of the book and many practical tools to boost your power in your career and relationships.)

No Excuses: 9 Ways to Boost Your Power in 2012
Tuesday, January 31, 2012 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM (ET)
Fenton Studios
630 9th Avenue
Suite 910
New York, NY

Workshop description:

Have you ever offered an idea in a meeting and no one acknowledged you, then ten minutes later a man said the same thing and people thought it was a great idea? Do you wonder why women are stuck at 18% of the top leadership positions across all sectors, earning $1million less than men over a career, despite being half the workplace and 54% of the voters?

Do you have big ambitions but aren’t sure how to achieve them? Learn practical tools from the woman People Magazine called “the voice of experience” for how you can embrace your power, enhance your leadership skills, and lead your dreams forward.

It’s a new year and a great time to get inspired while learning 9 Power Tools—practical bite-sized tips you’ll use to clarify your intentions and make an action plan that will enable you to reach your goals for work, civic life, or personal relationships. During the workshop, you will have a chance to give and get feedback on your application of the Power Tools to a goal or goals you will define, and you’ll leave energized for the year ahead.

Please note the ticket price for this class includes a copy of Gloria’s book No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power.

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She’s Doing It: Shoshana Weinberg Finds Spa Everywhere

Shoshana Weinberg

How in the world did Shoshana Weinberg get from the “tiny country town” of Clarksville MD to Hong Kong? How in the world did this director of the Four Seasons Spa Hong Kong happen upon my 9 Ways Blog? And what in the world does she mean when she says, “Spa is everywhere?”

I asked those and other questions when Shoshana e-mailed me out of the blue saying she’d found my blog to be inspirational and wanted to be profiled as a “She’s Doing It” woman. I think you’ll find her answers fascinating as she tells her story (that’s No Excuses Power Tool #9 of course!) here…

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