The Women have waited long enough; it’s a suitable time to share the thoughts. There’s a long list of women who inspire me, but for the sake of your time and inches on this site, I’ve cut it down to five.
Relevant to current events, the first formidable female on the list is, Millicent Fawcett. In 1897, Fawcett formed the, National Union of Women’s Suffrage. She wanted to vote. She wanted to change the perception that women were too stupid to understand the workings of government and law-making. Hard to believe there was a time when that pompous and visionless nonsense was the accepted judgment on females. (Interesting that women have outnumbered men on college campuses since the 1970s, but that’s for another time.) Although the Suffragette movement ultimately turned to violence to get their message across, Fawcett prescribed peaceful protest. Hers was the long game; played out with logical arguments (big fan of that approach.) She understood that violence reduced the cause to the same base thinking they were fighting against. No discerning person would resort to violence to make their point. In words or deed. A respectful nod to you, Ms. Fawcett; yours was an example to be emulated.
Let’s bring it up to date; next on the hit parade, Joanna Coles, the Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine. She’s recently been promoted to the newly created position, Chief Content Officer, for all Hearst domestic and international titles. (A collection of heavy hitters.) This is an impressive woman. British born, Coles has a BA in English and American Literature, from the University of East Anglia. Her career includes a list of high-profile publications, including The Spectator, The Guardian, and The Times of London. When she landed at the Hearst Corporation, she started as editor-in-chief of Marie Claire before moving over to Cosmopolitan, with her hand in Seventeen as well. (That’s an eclipsed version of her career and accomplishments, but you get the idea.) My knowledge of Ms. Coles came through Instagram, started following Cosmo, which lead me to Ms. Coles’ feed. She makes the list for several reasons; first, and most obvious, as a writer, I admire her talent and track record. Next, the expansion she brought to Cosmo speaks volumes about her respect for, not only the whimsy of women, but their creativity, intelligence and power as well. When I take a break to escape the thunderous noise of a dreadfully divided world, Instagram is a salve; and Joanna Coles, an oracle. She offers the perfect prescription of frivolous fun, female fraternity, and practical politics. And finally, I admire her for her ability to poke fun at herself. The woman makes me laugh on a regular basis. She’s armed with Boomerang, and she knows how to use it. She has a treadmill desk, nuff said. Thanks for the comic relief, we all need it.
The next person on the list danced her way into my heart. Her story and talent are the stuff legends are made of. Misty Copeland didn’t start dancing until she was 13; emerging as a phenom, she glided into her professional career within one year. She joined the American Ballet Theater’s Studio Company at 18, after only five years of training. Unheard-of. The next part of her story I have a hard time even bringing up, because I don’t categorize people by color, but it is unavoidable in it’s poignancy, Ms. Copeland is the first African American Woman to rise to the coveted position of Principal Dancer in ABT’s 75 year history. In 2015 she was named one of the 100 Most Influential People, by Time Magazine. She is extraordinary. The best part of her story is her path. Where all her contemporaries were students of wealth and privilege, Misty lived in a hotel with her parents and five siblings. Hers was a life of poverty. A story of overcoming demoralizing obstacles to become a prima ballerina. (At the bottom there’s a link to a YouTube feature story, five minutes that’s worth the time.) Include Misty on the list not only for her unique story, it’s a wellspring of inspiration, but primarily for her unmatched talent. Watching her is transcendent. She was put on this earth to dance; perfection in motion. Such perfection should be noted.
The next woman is one I admire for many reasons, none more so than her selfless service. In the face of constant undermining, it is a wonder that Hillary Clinton has continued in a life of public service for so long. The fabrications about her career, brings her to the list. I’m okay with political gamesmanship, to a point, but the disgraceful way the Republican Party has dogged Mrs. Clinton borders on criminal. Got in a political discussion with a conservative recently and she made the comment, (with complete conviction,) that Hillary Clinton was responsible for murdering people. Yup, there it is, the line, crossed. As President-elect Trump has mentioned since the election, Hillary Clinton is a good person; a good person with a successful career that’s been turned into something nefarious by the GOP. Can only imagine, calling Mrs. Clinton a murderer was referring to Benghazi. A devastating event that joins the list of 13 prior deadly attacks on US diplomatic facilities since 1998; and seven US ambassadors who have been killed since 1950. Attacks that were not held over the heads of the Secretaries of State at the helm for those tragedies; oh, that’s right, because they weren’t Mrs. Clinton, and none of them had presidential aspirations. Benghazi was a perfect storm of misfortune, starting with the security lapse precipitated by proximity. The compound was a provisional base, set up for one week only. Ambassador Stevens was normally based at the embassy in Tripoli. Anger was high in the already incredibly unstable region not only because of the propagandized video, Innocence of Muslims, being promoted by the Koran-burning preacher, Terry Jones, but by the anniversary of 9/11. Just as the attacks for the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed weren’t carried out against the Danish embassies until months later, the anger surrounding the Benghazi attack flared like a flash in a pan. There was no warning. There didn’t need to be protests in the streets, they were happening in their homes, in front of YouTube. The information Hillary and her team came out with at the time was to the best of their knowledge. Americans want answers now, they tried to keep us informed. The attackers arrived in trucks that were marked with the name of the local Islamists who were working with the government to provide security. How we have allowed ourselves to be duped into thinking there should be any fault heaped on Hillary Clinton is shameful. She did the best she could do in the instantaneously explosive situation. Thank you for your dedication to our country, Mrs. Clinton, your service has been admirable; to say the least.
Okay, saved the best for last. The woman who gave me the idea for this column; my favorite female in the world, and the person I admire more than anyone, my daughter, Shay. She doesn’t make the list via nepotism, she‘s earned the top slot the hard way. Her kindness and consideration in the face of those who don’t deserve that respect is notable. She’s been a potent example of patience, tolerance and unconditional love. Although she’s had justifiable reasons, I’ve never seen her be angry with or mistreat anyone. And yet the mistreatment she has endured would have fried the patience of a saint. I’ve burned for her, (many times.) But she keeps her cool and her compassion in tact, no matter what; I’m always humbled by her restraint. A character trait that’s exercised regularly but nowhere more overtly than when she’s working. For years she was the GM for an exclusive nightclub in Miami, dealing with an interesting cross-section of people. From her regular clients, who became friends and dropped a grand every visit, to the most obnoxious, entitled snobs you can imagine, who wanted everything for nothing, she treated everyone with respect. I’ve been with her throughout the night, several times, arriving at 10:00 p.m. and staying until 6 a.m., (if I wanted to visit her it was clubin for me; the wee hours thinned, we snuck in our quality time.) Watching her with those crowds was like watching a maestro, she worked the place like a complicated instrument, turning out some beautiful music. So many times I watched her defuse anger and turn a tough situation into a workable solution, using her strongest tool, kindness; wrapped in amazing efficiency. Exhaustion never altered her charity, where most people would snap with an average of only three hours of sleep a night, (she ran the marketing and social media for the club, a restaurant and a start-up app during the day,) she could be like the walking-dead and still be affable. Her endless energy and brilliant creativity has taken her in a new direction and I have no doubt she will make her mark. She’s a natural born philanthropist, in every sense of the word. Thanks for always sharing your heart, Shay, it’s been a priceless lesson.
All these women have one thing in common, they make the world a better place; their talent, intelligence, extraordinary gifts, dedication, energy, selflessness, passion and strong character are what the world needs. Now, more than ever.
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