Sally Jewell is a one-woman powerhouse. The REI CEO has just been approved by a bipartisan United States Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by a vote of 19-3, according to the New York Times. Her next stop—a full review by the U.S. Senate.
“She is going to give each member of this committee her ear and her expertise that comes from having managed to pack a host of professional careers – petroleum engineer, C.E.O. and banker, to name just a few – into just one lifetime,” Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, told the committee.
Jewell’s diverse experience has made her a unique contender for the job. In comparison to her possible predecessor, former Senator Ken Salazar, Jewell has no government experience. However, just as Salazar made a historic impact by becoming one of the first Hispanics to earn a spot in the Senate, Jewell’s confirmation would make her the second woman to hold the Interior Secretary position.
An avid environmentalist these days, Jewell, 56, is not afraid to say that she started off as a petroleum engineer for Mobil Oil. Her range of experience provides her with a widened perspective. She has worked as a foreman for drill crews, an investment banker, and is now the CEO of a highly successful outdoor sports corporation. She’s a Jane of all trades—a banker, a boardroom member, and a mountain climber. She takes heed to both economic fronts and conservation efforts.
“She knows the link between conservation and good jobs,” President Obama said during Jewell’s nomination earlier this month. “She knows that there is no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress.”
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.
“As an activist for women through almost four decades, I know that no movement for social justice moves forward without struggle, nor does forward movement necessarily go in a straight line.”
Today, March 8, is celebrated around the globe as International Women’s Day. Some decry its commercialization, as corporate sponsors have realized it’s in their best interests to appeal to women who make over 85 percent of consumer purchases around the globe.
But it’s a day whose meaning inspires me to think back to a very special moment on September, 1995.
I was attending the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, where hugely ambitious and thrilling goals were set for improving the lives of women, and by extension their families and the world.
The official conference was in Beijing, but the much larger convocation of activists from nongovernmental organizations—40,000 enthusiastic women and a few good men like my husband—was literally stuck in the mud in Huairu, a suburb an hour’s drive from the city.
Thousands of sleepy people had arrived at dawn on the morning of Sept. 6, to stand packed together under a roof of brightly colored umbrellas, jockeying for the few hundred seats inside the auditorium where then first lady of the United States Hillary Clinton was slated to give a speech.
Thanks to my training in clinic defense, which had taught me how to form a wedge and move expeditiously through even the most aggressive crowd, I was fortunate not only to get inside but to get a seat. The program was running late; Hillary was running even later and the crowd was getting restless.
Just as it seemed a revolt might be brewing, Shirley May Springer Stanton, the cultural coordinator of the conference, sauntered onto the stage and began to sing a capella, ever so softly: “Gonna keep on moving forward. Never turning back, never turning back.”
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,
Remember studying Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in high school? Did you go around warning your friends to “Beware the Ides of March!” like I did?
Fortunately, I have lots of good news this March 15. There are at least 9 Ways I might get to see you at a book reading or other event soon. I extend a warm invitation to you to attend events in your area. And will you help me out by sharing this information with your contacts and on social media? Thank you!
This Week in the Midwest:
I just love Women and Children First bookstore in Chicago. One of the great independent, feminist bookstores. Join me there this Wednesday, March 16, at 7:30pm, at 5233 N. Clark Street. Click here or call 773-769-9299 for more info.
Cleveland is next up: Friday, March 18. I’m excited to keynote and conduct a 9 Ways Power Tools workshop for Rita Singh’s Elite Women Around the World conference, “Scaling Up…Can I Dream Big?” The answer is “Yes!” 8:30am – 2pm at the Crown Plaza Cleveland South. Register here.
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 women of the future might or should become.
Who do you think will be the woman of tomorrow? How would you define her character and characteristics? What external forces will influence her? How will she define herself? What are your aspirations for women’s lives five, ten, 25 years hence? Please post your comments here and let’s discuss these questions. Here’s one to start you off:
Will she be a “Powered Woman”? When I asked this question via Twitter (I’m Heartfeldt there), @MadamaAmbi replied with her ideas about the “powered woman“. I love that we both chose the same adjective–“powered” rather than “empowered” or “powerful”–to describe where we think women are and/or will be. It’s a subtle but significant language shift that to me implies women are at a historic point of choice.
I wanted to write a long and erudite post today about the history of women in the media and the media on women. But the hour is late and the task far larger than I can do with full justice. For the bigger picture, let me refer you to:
the Women’s Media Center for stats that will knock your socks off and so will their programs to fix the imbalances,
WIMN for Jenn Pozner’s smart and specific media criticism and a lively group blog
There has been a marked change in the estimate of [women’s] position as wealth producers. We have never been “supported” by men; for if all men labored hard every hour of the twenty-four, they could not do all the work of the world. A few worthless women there are, but even they are not so much supported by the men of their family as by the overwork of the “sweated” women at the other end of the social ladder. From creation’s dawn. our sex has done its full share of the world’s work; sometimes we have been paid for it, but oftener not.
Blatch went on to raise issues much like what Ai-Jen Poo said at the “Unfinished Business” program 111 years later, what Moms Rising has organized itself to organize the troops about now, and what dozens if not hundreds of bloggers will be talking about this weekend over at Fem 2.0:
Unpaid work never commands respect; it is the paid worker who has brought to the public mind conviction of woman’s worth…If we would recognize the democratic side of our cause, and make an organized appeal to industrial women on the ground of their need of citizenship, and to the nation on the ground of its need that all wealth producers should form part of its body politic, the close of the century might witness the building up of a true republic in the United States.
Yep, don’t agonize: organize. Band together to make the workplace and worklife such that people of both genders can both earn a living and have a life. This is the necessary next wave of the feminist movement, one in which both men and women must participate. Because these days, men want to participate in their children’s lives as women have always done.
I’m finding Women’s History Month this year greeted with yawns. That could mean women and women’s contributions are becoming everywhere recognized as integral to political and social history. If so, it’s not yet a publicly acknowledged fact.
No surprise there.
History has been defined through male lenses and written by male hands. Almost nobody, male or female, ever thought of Women’s History Anything before the 1970’s. Officially, it’s been in existence since 1978 and started on the left coast (as Women’s History Week) in Sonoma County CA. Now it sounds just nice and ordinary. You can even buy Women’s History Month greeting cards.
So it’s hard for many to fathom that the inception of Women’s History Month marked a revolutionary shift in thinking about whose actions are worth recording. An interesting overview is here, and Louise Bernikow’s “Our Story” articles tell me interesting snippets I don’t find elsewhere; your children probably won’t find them in their textbooks either because few history courses even today have caught up with the stunning progress women have made into leadership and influential roles during the past decade.