“A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt!
“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” ~ Margaret Thatcher!
“Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.” ~ Susan B. Anthony!
And, what do all of these have in common? Trailblazers, each one of them.
To shamelessly poach the title of a wonderfully inspiring book released this year by author Karen Karbo, today’s show is IN PRAISE OF DIFFICULT WOMEN. Her collection of rich and colorful essays document the “life lessons from 29 heroines who dared to break the rules.” She writes that all of these powerful women, from Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Angela Merkel to Gloria Steinem, “Give us permission to occupy space in our worlds, to say what we think, and to stand our ground. They give us permission to be ambitious, passionate, curmudgeonly, outspoken, persistent, sassy, and angry. They tell us, by their words and deeds, that it’s all right to occupy our humanity.”
Eleanor Roosevelt was a difficult woman. While she consistently tops polls today for our most-admired first lady, was considered a controversial figure in her own day… outspoken in support of civil rights, labor, dignity for all – and as a result, she made many enemies.
Margaret Thatcher, the first female British prime minister, and longest serving prime minister in the 20th century was considered a controversial figurehead… described as “vindictive and nasty”… a difficult woman. And Susan B Anthony who helped to pave the way for the 19th amendment which gave women the right to vote, was arrested in November 1872, when she had the audacity to register and vote in a national election… decades before she was given permission to do so. She was a very difficult woman.
The definition of Trailblazer is not merely one who blazes trails, but one who does so in order to guide others. Today, we honor the trailblazers, the difficult women, racing towards the finish line next week! Hundreds of women who are paving a path so that thousands can follow in their footsteps.
To put all of this in perspective, since the first congress in 1789, fewer than THREE PERCENT of America’s national leaders have been women. Today’s candidates benefit from the hurdles overcome by the women before them. And, tomorrow’s candidates will have benefited from the paths carved out today.
Though she never shattered the glass ceiling, two years ago, Hillary Clinton kicked down more than a few doors through which women will inevitably follow – And in order to do so, she navigated uncultivated paths in American politics.
The public narrative since she first ran for the Senate… Hillary is a difficult woman. But, fan or foe, it would be foolhardy to suggest that her trailblazing pursuit hasn’t helped to evolve the mindset of the country, making it that much more probable that sooner than later, a woman will be elected to the highest office in the land.
With two years out to the next presidential election, already three democratic women have all but committed to the ultimate race. Kamala Harris or California, Kirstin Gillibrand of New York and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. No female frontrunner on the Republican side, though there is robust evidence to suggest that an eventual presidential bid might be in the cards for UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.
When Elizabeth Warren first ran for senator in Massachusetts, she was told repeatedly that, “Massachusetts won’t elect a woman,” or worse as she said, “when you lose, it will set back the cause of women here in Massachusetts…” She said those foreboding words caused her to lean in harder in the decision to run. A trailblazer. A modern day suffragette, though in lieu of fighting for the right to vote, they are fighting for the right to lead.
Michigan Gubernatorial candidate, Gretchen Whitmer will weigh in on the trailblazers who inspired her, and meet JB Pritzker, an unapologetic feminist running for Governor of Illinois.
In our Candidate Spotlight, a woman whose life defines the concept of trailblazer, Christine Hallquist – the first transgender woman to win a Democratic primary for governor in the Green Mountain state of Vermont.
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