Of course, women can lead

So, some guy on a recurring podcast is telling us women should not lead and it is a sign of weakness when they do? Really? I heard a Republican legislator say something similar about not being able to be masculine in this country. Really?

If that was not ironic enough, we were watching a movie just last night made in the early 1970s, where the two male leads were chatting about it not being a man’s world anymore and we should take our country back. Does that sound familiar? It should be noted this was still at the start of the women’s movement who were protesting they are tired of not getting opportunity and equal pay.

What I find of interest is an article which appeared this week about this legislator. Its point is if this bothers you so much Mr. Legislator, then why is the most masculine acting person in the Republican party a woman? Her name is Liz Cheney and she has far more courage than the men in her party, with the exception maybe of Adam Kinzinger who was an Air Force pilot and can rival her courage. Speaking of courage, Cassidy Hutchinson and Dr. Fiona Hill also have an abundance of courage, telling the truth with threats against them.

And, the guy his MAGA fans think is so tough, who called his VP a wimp for not breaking the law, cannot bring himself to admit he lost an election. Not very manly or very adult-like is it? Plus, he is the same guy who refused to do a debate if Meghan Kelly was on the next panel as she asked him hard questions last time. We later learned that it was not the questioner, it was the fact Trump was being fed the questions by someone at Fox News before the Republican candidate debates so he could prepare. Kelly just went off his preset script.

For the women-not-being-suited-to-lead-dude, Angela Merkel was the leader of the free world for years and Jacinda Ardern had the gumption to get better gun governance passed in New Zealand after a mass shooting. Golda Meir led Israel during a very tumultuous time. Last time I checked, Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House for the second time. That is leadership. And, while I was not a huge fan of her politics, Margaret Thatcher was so tough, she was referred to as the “Iron Lady.”

In an oft-quoted book called “Half the sky” by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn, the Chinese proverb on which the title is based is “women hold up half the sky.” Any community or country that does not bear that in mind is not only being unfair to women, they are being unfair to themselves as they are competing in a world with only half their assets.

Of course, women can lead. And, they can do no worse than many of the men who have been in such roles. Often, they do better.

Advertisement

Quiet resolve equals strength

The following poem is called “Strength in silence and sweetness: ROAR” by our blogging friend Cindy Georgakas. A link to her post is below. Following her poem, is an amended comment I made regarding my thoughts on its veracity.

“There is strength in silence, behind my sweetness;

Hear me Roar!

If you cross me, don’t be fooled
by my demure ensemble.

Cover your ears and run for the hills because I’ve hired my entourage to find you.

If you thought you could pull a fast one, think again.

Hear me Roar!

Life was made for making things right and putting an end to the injustices rendered.

Whipping cream is sweet it’s true, but if you’ve run amuck,
pucker up and deal with what life hands you, served on a silver platter.

Hear me Roar!

We gather in the name of God, where sweetness cuts to the chase.

That’s right…NEVER underestimate the silence and power of a woman,
wrapped in whipping cream clouds that smile.

We are woman;

Hear us roar!”

Copyright © 2022 Cindy Georgakas

Allow me to just focus on Cindy’s opening sentence – “There is strength in silence, behind my sweetness;” I have often quoted an old line “do not mistake kindness as weakness.” False bravado means fake bravery. Beating on one’s chest is usually reserved to someone who does not want to fight. The one to worry about most has always been the quiet, pensive one. Think Ukraine President Zelenskyy standing up to an untruthful bully in Putin.

To the point of Cindy’s poem, I am reminded of a true story from one of the most difficult books I have ever read, “Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn. It is about the maltreatment of women around the globe and the title is based on the Chinese proverb that women hold up half the sky.

The example is a tribe was left to defend itself with the women and children left in the village. They were housing some injured male warriors. When the enemy came to find them, the women who commanded a lot of respect told the enemy to go on about their business and let them be. And, the enemy did. They were so steadfast in their resolve it intimidated the enemy men.

We should never forget a huge example during the 2016 GOP presidential primary. When Meghan Kelly of Fox asked the future president some tough questions in one debate, he refused to do future debates if Ms. Kelly was one of the interviewers. He was scared of her. What we learned later, he was fed questions by someone at Fox and Ms. Kelly happened to ask him questions about his maltreatment of women that were not fed to him in advance and he did not like it one bit. And, this would not be the first or last time the former president quivered when faced with a female reporter armed with good questions.*

Finally, it should be noted the election in Australia last week where conservatives were swept out was said to be due to a large voting bloc of women who were concerned about climate change action, child care funding, Medicare strengthening and integrity, rather than contrived and overstated issues to cause fear. Women can make a difference and I hope they do. If we do not think this is so, remember what happened in the United States in 2018, when the Women’s March fueled many women winning elections and a changeover in the majority in the House.

*Per Robert Mackey of The Intercept om May 12, 2020: “WHEN AN ACTUAL press conference threatened to break out in the Rose Garden on Monday, as two White House correspondents refused to let Donald Trump silence them, and a third declined his request to change the subject by asking a new question, the president abruptly turned and walked away.” Note the first two reporters were female.

The deer must lead the way

I was watching one of those animal documentaries and it set a common belief on its head. Like me, many may have the belief the deer will follow where the stag leads. But, through observations, scientists have noted that is not always the case. The deer will feel threatened and move before the stag knows what happened. The stag will, in essence, follow the does and younger deer out of harm’s way.

That is the way it has to be now that elected officials are too scared to do anything. Of course, a change here and there occurs, but for the most part legislators are less inclined to make substantive changes that go against their funders’ wishes. As a result, collaboration is harder and even positive changes do not get passed, as one tribe cannot let the other take credit for political gain. Helping people is secondary to winning elections. It is that simple.

In the 2018 midterm US elections, the does rallied together in the Women’s March and ousted many stags from politics. It was an election that saw a large number of women get elected. Last week, in Australia, a change averse and industry helping government was swept out of office after nine years and three prime ministers. The does said we need to deal with climate change, child care and Medicare issues. And, by the way, integrity matters they said. It should be noted, not all the folks who got booted out were stags, as even does can be less than helpful as an elected official as we have seen here in the US.

It should be noted in 2019, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, helped push through more restrictive gun laws after the nation was mourning the mass shooting deaths that just occurred. A female leader said acting to address this issue was of major importance. How refreshing. Ardern will be speaking at Harvard on the subject of gun control and will likely visit with the US president. Think of the contrast between her and certain elected officials here that are attending a conference held by the NRA, ironically in Texas, or parroting the usual and stale tripe that goes for debate in our country to prevent what most Americans want from happening.

Leaders look like Ardern. They look like Zelenskyy. They looked like Merkel and Mandela. They are imperfect, but they represent the people, all people of their countries. I mention Mandela as he was being pressured to swing the pendulum even more the way of the native South Africans after Apartheid. He did make sure their rights were promoted, but he also recognized the country as a whole needed to come together.

We need to listen to leaders like this. They are refreshing in contrast to our elected officials here who will actually go against the majority of people’s wishes to garner votes from a vocal minority. It is truly sad to see that occur. And, it should be noted how I sparingly use the word leader here in the US.

Documentary on Sheryl Crow is worth the watch

Latifah Muhammed in “Billboard Magazine” wrote the following summary piece about the excellent new documentary from Showtime about the life and career of singer/ songwriter and producer Sheryl Crow.

  • Sheryl CrowSheryl CrowAmerican musician, singer, songwriter, and actress

“Directed by Amy Scott, Sheryl, features a mix of new interviews with Crow, behind-the-scenes footage on the road and in her studio and never before seen archival footage spanning 20 years of touring along with appearances from Keith Richards, Laura Dern, Joe Walsh, Emmylou Harris, Brandi Carlile and more.

From battling sexism to depression, perfectionism, cancer, and the price of fame, Sheryl pulls back the curtain on the Grammy-winner incredibly story. The documentary made its world premiere at SXSW in March.”

Her story is one of persistence and perseverance. She kept knocking on doors until someone finally gave her a chance. And, once she got there, she had to persevere to keep her records and performances at a high level, while battling the other life challenges many face as well as few of her own due to being in front of cameras and microphones.

Not to give too much away, Crow and others are quite candid about some of the mistakes and hardships she faced. She also is open about how her albums and songs got produced, tapping resources she met along the way. For example, I was unaware she was on tour with Michael Jackson as his co-singer during the infamous Pepsi tour. There she met her best friend and manager Scooter Weintraub, who would be by her side on her future journey.

She tells us of her bouts with sexual harassment, where she was advised to grin and bear it, she tells of how difficult it is and was for a woman to get produced, she tells of backlash by using a poor choice of words in an interview with David Letterman, she tells of how she battled depression and even suicidal thoughts, she tells of her bouts with cancer, and she tells of her mother’s encouragement to adopt two young boys (Levi and Wyatt) to start a family.

The most powerful part of the story is when she speaks of hitting rock bottom with her depression. She notes she DOES NOT remember penning or recording this song called “The Weather Channel,” which she included on an album. She performed it in the documentary with just her acoustic guitar. She notes she must have written it as she included Winston Churchill’s reference of “black dog” to his depression. Here are the first few lines.

“Sunny morning
You can hear it
Siren’s warning
There is weather on both sides
And I know it’s coming
Just like before
There’s a black dog
That scratches my door
He’s been growling my name saying
You better get to running”

Her songs are milestones for many women (and men), even young ones who were born after some of the songs were penned. She was stunned that young girls and boys knew her songs word for word at concerts. Her hits are many, but a quick list of the top ones includes:

“All I wanna do” – Her first hit based on a poem by Wyn Cooper

“Soak up the sun” – written on a plane by her friend Jeff Trott

“My favorite mistake”

“If it makes you happy” – an anthem which builds to a huge audience chorus

“Strong enough” – she sings a duet with Stevie Nicks in the documentary which is excellent

“Leaving Las Vegas” – in a nervous interview, she did not give credit to the primary author of this song and she got backlash for it

“A change would do you good”

Crow still inspires many today. The interviews with stars, producers, family and friends reveal how well she is thought of. Give it a watch, even if not a huge fan. It is worth the effort to see someone speak so candidly about her ups and downs.

You Don’t Own Me – an encore of Lesley Gore’s anthem for women

The following post was written in 2013, so it preceded the US Supreme Court ruling that same sex marriages were allowable and during a major revelation of the largely unchecked and unprosecuted rapes in the US military. During Women’s History month it is good to repeat this post.

Being the father of a teenage daughter, my wife and I try to raise our young lady to be self-sufficient and to not let anyone take advantage of her. Fortunately, she has a great sense of humor and can use it to diffuse people who are overbearing towards her or who may want to take advantage of a situation. With that context, recently we were watching one of those retro-look shows which focused on female singers from the 1960s. Lesley Gore had a couple of huge hits “It’s My Party” and “Judy’s Turn to Cry” which are more the standard fare for teenage girls. Yet, amid those songs, she sang “You Don’t Own Me” which is extremely powerful whose words resonate for all women.

Ironically, the song was written by two men – John Madara and David White – but when these terrific words are sung hauntingly by Gore, it becomes her song. Here are the lyrics which are very straightforward.

You don’t own me, I’m not just one of your many toys
You don’t own me, don’t say I can’t go with other boys

And don’t tell me what to do
And don’t tell me what to say
And please, when I go out with you
Don’t put me on display, ’cause

You don’t own me, don’t try to change me in any way
You don’t own me, don’t tie me down ’cause I’d never stay

Oh, I don’t tell you what to say
I don’t tell you what to do
So just let me be myself
That’s all I ask of you

I’m young and I love to be young
I’m free and I love to be free
To live my life the way I want
To say and do whatever I please

A-a-a-nd don’t tell me what to do
Oh-h-h-h don’t tell me what to say
And please, when I go out with you
Don’t put me on display

I don’t tell you what to say
Oh-h-h-h don’t tell you what to do
So just let me be myself
That’s all I ask of you

I’m young and I love to be young
I’m free and I love to be free
To live my life the way I want

Since her version needs to be heard, I have included a link to enable you to do that.

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=you+don+t+own+me+lyrics&mid=1A608AD222A0926A03DB1A608AD222A0926A03DB&view=detail&FORM=VIRE3

The song did resonate with many and was included in the movies “The Big Chill” and “Dirty Dancing.” Yet, it may have been heard by fewer people (than it should have) as Gore actually turned her back on stardom to go to college limiting her career and notoriety. She was born in 1946 as Lesley Sue Goldstein and sang “It’s My Party” in 1963 at the age of 16, the same age as my daughter is now. She turned down major contracts and eventually went on to Sarah Lawrence College in New York. To me, she may have been living the words to this anthem – “you don’t own me” and if I want to go to college, then that is my choice.

Having written earlier about Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s “Half the Sky” about the maltreatment of women around the world, this song had additional meaning. A link to this post is https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/half-the-sky-turning-oppression-into-opportunity-for-women-worldwide/.  I am not naive, so I know that women who are treated like chattel in some parts of the world would be killed or severely beaten if they uttered these words.That is the purpose of “Half the Sky” to tell these stories, highlight the bravery of the local champions who have rebelled against maltreatment and collectively give women a voice to say “you don’t own me.” Or, at a very minimum, I will not tolerate you treating me this way.

Yet, even in more gender egalitarian countries, the same words could be said. In the US, there seems to be a new onslaught to limit women’s reproductive rights, forty years after this issue was supposedly resolved. Here in the US, we have had over 26,000 women (and men) who have been sexually assaulted in our military ranks just last year, but only 3,400 of these sexual assaults came to trial. And, the solution presented yesterday is only a good first step, but will not solve the problem (listen to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand folks) https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/the-invisible-war-kirsten-gillibrand-has-it-right/. Here in the US, women still need the deserved opportunity to lead, be it in business or government. Here in the US, we still have insufficient protection for domestic violence victims, which is more about control and ownership. Here in the US, it should be OK to marry your Lesbian partner anywhere in the country. I could go on.

If you know this song, please relive it with me and share with others. If you don’t know it, give it a listen and, if you like it, share it as well. If you have not read “Half the Sky,” you should, but know this; it will be one of the hardest books you will ever read. If you don’t want to go down that path, at least click on the link above to my earlier post.

You don’t own me. Powerful words. Thanks Ms.Gore and Messrs. Madara and White.