A few days ago, I went to the best funeral I’ve ever attended.
It’s unusual to say that about an occasion normally considered sad and somber. But the memorial service for Muriel “Mickie” Siebert, a well-known finance executive in the U.S. and the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, goes down in my book as a perfectly delightful send off.
Mickie founded her brokerage firm, Muriel Siebert & Co, Inc. which became part of Siebert Financial and went public in 1996. She also served as New York State’s Superintendent of Banking (referring to herself in her 2008 autobiography Changing the Rules as the S.O.B.). Mickie’s career has lessons for all women, no matter their occupation:
Have a dream and go for it.
Start your own game if those in power won’t let you into theirs — or even if they will but you prefer your vision of how things should be.
No matter how high you climb, help other women rise and keep them close to support you.
So here’s the lesson for July 4, Independence Day 2012:
On July 1st, Mississippi legislation that mandates that all abortion providers be registered OBGY-Ns with hospital visiting privileges was to go into effect, because two of the three doctors at the only clinic providing abortion services in Mississippi do not have visiting privileges (undoubtedly yet another consequence of the war on women with abortion as it’s frontline).
Therefore, the only solution to these assaults on women’s freedom and equal rights is participation in the political process. This to me is what Independence Day celebrations are all about—or should be. And as we enjoy those barbecues and fireworks, remember what Madonna says about voting being as important as sex.
Because as usual, the Material Girl tells it like it is. As do my great colleagues Molly Dedham and Christine Eads [link to each of them]. I’m fortunate to be a “Regular Broad” on their terrific Sirius XM radio show called “Broadminded.” The interview excerpted below is from my first “Broadminded” interview. We talked about a range of political issues, including the imperative to harness our sister courage—joining with our sisters–as we use our cherished American liberties to influence the policies we want.
I raise this question because today I experienced the disorienting juxtaposition of Equal Pay Day with the retro notion that women’s growing economic power makes us want to be dominated during sex.
Equal Pay Day marks the day in April when women wear red to signify we’re in the red, earning (by 2011 calculations) but 77.4 cents to men’s $1. And for African-American and Hispanic women the differential is significantly more extreme.
“It is intriguing that huge numbers of women are eagerly consuming myriad and disparate fantasies of submission at a moment when women are ascendant in the workplace…when—in hard economic terms—women are less dependent or subjugated than before.
It is probably no coincidence that, as more books like The Richer Sex by Liza Mundy and Hanna Rosin’s forthcoming The End of Men appear, there is a renewed popular interest in the stylized theater of female powerlessness…We may then be especially drawn to this particular romanticized, erotically charged, semi-pornographic idea of female submission at a moment in history when male dominance is shakier than it has ever been.”
Really? And whose preferred narrative do we think this zero-sum “power-over” social model is?
Talk show bloviator Rush Limbaugh calls 30-year-old Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a slut for advocating insurance coverage of contraceptives. Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus compares women to caterpillars. And the Augusta National Golf Club’s perfectly manicured greens remain firmly planted among those last bastions protecting male hegemony over society’s most powerful economic and political institutions.
The all-male golf club, based in Augusta, Georgia, has failed once again to award its coveted green jacket to a woman who clearly deserves club membership—IBM’s president and CEO Virginia “Ginni” Rometti. IBM is one of three major corporate sponsors of the club’s vaunted Masters golf tournament, and Rometty is Big Blue’s first female CEO.
But as much as I’ve excoriated Augusta’s male leaders for perpetuating this exclusionary practice, and as much as I believe IBM’s board is culpable for not standing up for their own CEO, I’m even more distressed over Rometty’s failure to take this unprecedented opportunity to lift up not only herself but all women aspiring to the upper echelons of corporate leadership.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus caused a small uproar among Democrats yesterday after he compared the Republican Party’s female gender gap issue to a caterpillar problem.
“..If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars, and mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we have problems with caterpillars,” Priebus said on Bloomberg TV. Democrats quickly seized on the comments, accusing Priebus of comparing issues of women’s health to an insect infestation.
Are the chairman’s comments a sign that the GOP is truly not concerned about the gender gap it has with women? Or was it simply a poor choice of words that Democrats have blown out of proportion?
Caterpillars? How much deeper can the Republicans crawl into the muck?
Priebus’s remarks are just one more example of how the last bastions of sexism—and male hegemony over society’s powerful institutions—think. Or fail to think. Their disrespect for women is profound. Priebus’s unrepentant disregard for women’s intelligence and humanity will cost his party dearly in November.
In decades of experience as a women’s advocate, I’ve learned people can be inspired to action by one of two things: anger or aspiration.
A roiling, boiling anger is propelling women — even many who’ve never been activists before — to embrace their “power to” to take leadership and make change. They’re making their voices heard over the din of political rhetoric they might shun under other circumstances.
There was no one trigger, rather a succession of insults. I talked with Richard Lui about them this week on MSNBC’s Jansing & Co. Here’s a smattering:
After the stunning optics of an all-male “expert” panel pontificating on women’s reproductive health before a Senate committee (also all-male because the women on the committee were so incensed they walked out)…
After shock jock Rush Limbaughdenigrated Fluke, calling her a slut and a prostitute (can one be both—don’t sluts give it away?) and demanding to see videos of her having sex…
After bills like those in Texas and Virginia forcing women seeking abortions to submit to 10″ ultrasound “shaming wands” (as Doonesbury dubbed them), an AZ bill requiring women to bring notes to their employers verifying they take birth control for health reasons not pregnancy prevention or risk being fired, and a Tennessee bill that mandates public reporting of the doctors by name and the demographics of each patient…
I often wear a t-shirt bearing historian Ulrich’s advice because people react with a chuckle and it starts conversations. Conversations we need because women’s history is rarely given its due.
March is Women’s History Month, so designated because history has largely been framed through the male lens, recorded by male pens, and thus not surprisingly showcases men as the protagonists and the leaders; women, if noticed at all, play supporting roles (unless of course they take “male” personas, such as generals).
Yet women were everywhere, giving birth to everyone, among many other accomplishments. I’ve often wondered whether, if women had been documenting history for the last millennium, keeping peace and making things rather than making war and destroying things would be the central organizing narrative.
Then, once history is made, it seems so normal that it can easily be taken for granted. When I asked my grandson if he would vote for a woman for president, he responded “Yeaaah” in that drawn out way that made it sound as though I had three heads to ask such a dumb question.
And Sunday’s New York Times front page boasted a photo of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde—with little comment about what a power shift those two symbolize. Yet, as Lagarde said at the recent Women in the World conference, the global financial meltdown might not have occurred if Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Sisters—or at least Lehman Brothers and Sisters. History has consequences for the future.
It’s Women’ History Month. Let’s make Rush Limbaugh history. Here’s one action you can take. Stay tuned, and scroll down to the bottom of the post for more every day.
Politico Arena asks:
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh has been heavily criticized by the Georgetown University law student who he called a “slut” after she testified on Capitol Hill about women’s access to contraception.
“I’m not the first woman to be treated this way by numerous conservative media outlets, and hopefully I’ll be the last,” Sandra Fluke said on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show.” “This is really inappropriate. This is outside the bounds of civil discourse.”
Although Limbaugh infuriated Democrats by calling Fluke both a “prostitute” and a “slut,” he has shown no signs that he’ll issue an apology.
Should Limbaugh issue an apology? Or will the media firestorm blow over?
My Response: No apology is good enough. Rush must go. Period.
Women have had to put up with his “feminazi” epithets for far too long,
I believe in making common cause with people of all persuasions, but here’s what I learned about the quest for common ground on issues where people have diametrically opposing worldviews. Originally published at On The Issues Magazine.
The day before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was expected to rule, rumors circulated that the agency would approve Plan B One Step emergency contraception as a non-prescription item and allow it to be sold without age restrictions. Freelance writer Robin Marty predicted via e-mail, “Conservative reaction will be a total shitstorm.”
Silly question today but I decided to answer it anyway. More to the point, what in your opinion should be the next steps? Who should take leadership?
Arena Asks: Congress is bracing today for the failure of the supercommittee, which will most likely fail to submit paperwork to the Congressional Budget Office by its Monday deadline.
Is this a big hit for Congress, which had a nine percent approval rating in a recent poll? And why was the supercommittee unable to make ends meet?
My Answer: The supercommittee was doomed from the start because the Republicans have less to lose politically by being intractable on revenue. The supercommittee process played right into their hands and the Democrats took the bait…