The Continuing Power of Women's Voices
"George Clooney married Amal Alamuddin this year. Amal is a human-rights lawyer who worked on the Enron case, was an adviser to Kofi Annan regarding Syria and was selected for a three-person UN commission investigating rules of war violations in the Gaza Strip. So, of course, her husband is getting a lifetime achievement award."— (Tina Fey on the former longtime bachelor receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Awardfor lifetime achievement.)In an interview published today at The Writer's Life, I was asked where I came up for the idea for P.O.W.ER. Rather than repeat my answer, wander on over there to read it. Don't worry, I'll wait . . .
Maybe my answer doesn't go deep enough. This book comes from a belief that everyone's abilities (male, female, trans, white, black, asian, Christian, Muslim, Jewish . . . ) and voices can make a difference in this world. I've explored this topic many times before, particularly in the first blog post I called "The Power of Women's Voices" where I wrote in 2011:
" [This] is a list of women who, even in small and subtle ways, influence the world around them. That list moves forward, but it also extends back into history. I want to learn more of the story of these women. I want to write more of their story as well. But, perhaps more importantly, I want the voices of women to become louder in our story and not be silenced anymore."We live in an interesting time, where more and more women are making their voices heard and are making a difference. We live in a difficult time, where women are taken into slavery, where rights are stripped from us (even in countries like the U.S.), where rape culture stigmatises the victim, and where people are attacked on a daily basis for saying "I am a feminist."
"It would be dishonest to say that 2014 has been a good year for women. We looked in disbelief as a terrorist group in Syria and Iraq turned women into slaves, and another radical group in Nigeria captured hundreds of female students and disappeared with them.
But 2014 was also a year in which many women fought back and inspired the world with their bravery and savvy. They taught us that the stakes are high and the road to a better future is fraught with difficulties, but with strength and dignity, we can get there." (Frida Ghitis, "2014 Women of the Year (Opinion)" on CNN)
We live in a world where one person's voice can and does make a difference. Frida Ghitis' article lists several women who "in 2014 stared down the odds, helped change history, or changed our perceptions" but that list could include many more:
- Elizabeth Warren who fights daily as a progressive voice in congress.
- Hilary Clinton, whether you love her or hate her, she has shown that women can be powerful and make a difference in the world
- Michelle Obama, who carries herself with dignity while working for things she believes in and facing the challenges of having a husband under constant attack.
- Emma Watson, who asked the world to realize that men and women must stand together to make change in the #HeForShe campaign
- Madison Kimrey, who--at the age of 13--is one of the most kick ass feminists I know with one of most eloquent voices.
- Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who don't mince words and confront the issues in hilarious ways.
I have spent a good portion of my life surrounded by incredible women. Women who make their voices heard and change the world. Women who became judges, teachers, authors, scientists, homemakers, entrepreneurs, artists, activists, journalists, CEOs, professors, doctors, nurses, world travelers, movie directors, etc. Women who thrive on fighting for what they believe in.
[caption id="attachment_8508" align="aligncenter" width="300"] My first year at Smith College, surrounded by incredible young women.[/caption]
At the same time, I have witnessed women's voices cut down: in classrooms where only men had the chance to speak; in meetings where women's ideas were usurped; in awards ceremonies where women's awards seemed somehow lesser; in politics where women are criticized because they are women. I have had discussions with young women who don't see any problems in the world. Worst of all, I have seen (and experienced) women destroying each other.
P.O.W.ER is my response to all of that.
Who would you add to the list of powerful voices?