Can a Tampon Ad Really Empower You?

Consumer products ads have jumped on the girls and women’s empowerment bandwagon. Is this commercialization of women’s equality a good thing? On the positive side, when a company like Pantene bases an entire shampoo ad campaign on exposing sexism and starts a hashtag telling women to #ShineStrong, you know something big has shifted in the…

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I met Juliet Asante through a most remarkable friend, Eva Haller. Eva can always be counted on to be surrounded by people who are doing amazing, significant things for others in this world, and Juliet is no exception. So I was thrilled when this media entrepreneur and activist, the founder of Eagle Productions Ltd, (an events and communications company; developing and aggregating content for multiple platforms; with operations in a number of African countries), agreed to answer a few questions.

I think you’ll be inspired and agree that Juliet is definitely a woman who is Doing It!

 

Gloria Feldt: When did you know you had the power to_____?

Juliet Asante: I knew I had the power to change my world and make a difference when I, (as an African girl, at a time when not many people dared) was able to raise money to start my first television show; having started out with only a cell phone and absolutely no money or guidance.

GF: Describe the moment or series of events that let you know you had the power to:

JA: My first major event on my path was getting the part in an HBO movie that starred Omar Epps. “Deadly Voyage,” a true story based in Africa, was auditioned for by the ‘best’ in the industry… and I got the role I auditioned for. This gave me the confirmation and credibility I needed at the time to explore my talents.

The second event I remember, was winning the writing competition to produce a road show for a product to Unilever, and producing this while in my final year of University in another city. I commuted for 8 hours between two cities in every 24 hours for my entire final year at school.

I felt powerful. I felt my mental limitations drop away. I remember feeling like I could do it and I could see the world opening up to me. I also felt that my path was going to be a one of resistance, as I had already begun to see that in many ways, but I knew I’d find the strength to move on. I just knew….

GF: Tell a little about your background, your family and how you grew up, and what led you to your current work.

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Martha Burke has balls. And thanks to her leadership, now at least two women will have the privilege of chasing golf balls around the Augusta National Golf Club’s manicured course.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier and former banker Darla Moore have become the first female members in the club’s 80-year history.

Burk, who for the last nine years persisted in organizing to gain membership for women in the club that represents the pinnacle of power and influence, can finally, deservedly, celebrate success.

Burk explained the history in Women’s eNews last April when the august male-only golf club once again refused to let a woman wear its vaunted green members’ jacket at its annual Masters Tournament:

Well, the big day for the big boys at Augusta National Golf Club came and went without a woman showing up in the green jacket that denotes membership. The particular woman in question was Virginia Rometty, CEO of IBM, the leading corporate sponsor of Augusta’s Masters Golf Tournament.

For those who don’t follow news of puffed-up men chasing little balls around a green course, the club has always been male-only, and resisted extreme pressure nine years ago from women’s groups, led by the National Council of Women’s Organizations, to open up to female members.

The debate raged for nearly a year, complete with death threats to the NCWO chair, yours truly.

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Mitt Romney recently described contraception coverage and abortion rights as “shiny objects” used by Democrats to distract voters from “more important” issues. At a moment in which women’s reproductive rights are being dismissed by America’s Republican presidential hopeful, it is important for us to know our history! For me, the advent of the birth control pill accompanied a defining moment in which I realized my “power to.”

I discuss my life journey—from Texas to working with Kathleen Turner on a memoir to why 2012 may finally again be the year of the woman—with writer Susan Tolles for this interview. The article originally appeared on Susan’s website Flourish Over 50.

SUSAN TOLLES: Welcome to Flourish Over 50. I’m just so excited that you’re here, and I want to talk about your lifelong passion for really empowering women.

GLORIA FELDT: I first had to empower myself. I didn’t start out knowing much about this power stuff. I grew up in small towns in Texas in the 1940-50s, where girls were not encouraged to get an education, have a career, or have real aspirations for themselves. I mean, my family actually did expect me to get educated, but only in order to be a better mother, a better mate, etc. So I really didn’t start out thinking that I had power and agency myself; I grew thinking that the agency was outside of myself. I had to learn by trial-and-error along the way, and I am still learning it.

SUSAN TOLLES: Right, we all are. It’s always a work in progress.

GLORIA FELDT: It is a work in progress. So I’ll give you the real quick rundown of what happened: I was a teen mom; I got pregnant, married my high school sweetheart when I was 15. I had three children, bing-bing-bing, and then I was 20 years old. I think it was the combination of maturity and the advent of the birth control pill where I just woke up. That was one defining moment.

I realized two things: Firstly, I had three children, and although I had a husband who was earning a salary, I kept thinking, “What if I have to support these children?” I had no employable skills whatsoever. Secondly, I was starting to get a little bored and I realized that this life was not as much fun as I thought it was going to be. I, in fact, had a brain and I was eager to go to school.

And so, I finished high school by correspondence, and then the birth control pill came along. It was that defining moment that allowed me to see that I could create a life for myself. I could plan. If I wanted to have more children, I could have them by my own choice at whatever time I wanted to. But if I didn’t want to have more, then I had that option, and it meant I could go to college. I would say that was the first big defining moment for me. There were a series of other moments.

So I often ask people when I speak, “When did you know you had the power to _______?”

SUSAN TOLLES: Hmm, great question.

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When did you first see Ms. Magazine?

I can’t recall exactly the first time I saw it, but I do remember subscribing to it soon after it launched in 1972. I lived in Odessa TX, not exactly the bastion of feminism. But within the pages of Ms., I found women from all over the country saying what I’d been thinking. And I realized I wasn’t alone in feeling that something was terribly unfair about the way women were treated in society.

I also learned about the National Organization for Women from Ms. I joined as an at-large member and located the other five or six at-large members within a 100-mile radius.

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“Making women visible and powerful in the media,” the mission of the nonprofit New york and D.C. based Women’s Media Center http://www.womensmediacenter.com/, was on full display Monday night June 4. The evening’s centerpiece was the premiere of “Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding,” starring the incomparable Jane Fonda as a marijuana-growing and selling, tie-dye-wearing, sexuality-embracing, moon-howling grandmother who never left the 1960’s.

[caption id="attachment_8298" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="The incomparable gossip columnist Liz Smith"]

Jane Fonda, Amy Litzenberger, Christy Smith
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Ever work so hard that you forget to take time to celebrate what you’ve accomplished? I do it all the time.

So today, here’s a shout out to the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the National Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) who on May 31 will take time to celebrate six outstanding women.

Women who are clearly doing it for themselves and other women.

These women are innovators in media, advocacy, politics, and business, and they will be honored at the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL).

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Not long ago I sat down with freelance writer Corine Garcia for this interview. The article originally appeared as a blog post at Womenetics.

Years ago, as a teenage mother without a college education, one could only imagine that Gloria Feldt felt somewhat limited in career options. But with the right amount of optimism, the proper use of power and her penchant for saying “Yes” to every opportunity, Feldt paved her way to leadership success as the former president and CEO of Planned Parenthood.

Now, after recently being listed as one of “America’s Top 200 Women Leaders, Legends, and Trailblazers” by Vanity Fair magazine, Feldt’s latest bestselling book “No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power” offers well-founded advice to other women.

Womenetics: Vanity Fair named you one of “America’s Top 200 Women Leaders.” To what do you attribute your success as a leader?

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You met Lily Womble in last week’s She’s Doing It and learned that she attended the AWID (Association for Women’s Rights in Development) international forum in Istanbul.

There, she recorded video interviews with a number of women from around the globe. Besides the two in this post (watch them to learn what the post title means), you can see more on Lily’s YouTube channel.

Now back in college in Mississippi, 19-year-old Lily reflected on her experience:

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