The content of this blog occurred to me yesterday as I was reading a post on Mystic Medusa’s website on Paris Hilton. I abhor the shallowness and seediness of empty-headed, self-absorbed, so-called “celebrities” whose only function is to generate publicity and money about their vacuous doings.
It caused me to reflect on women who I honour, respect and think are pretty damned good. So here’s my list, I know I’ve probably missed a lot out because I’m writing this off the top of my head, and I’m sure others will add to this list:
- My mother who was warm, kind, loving, lovely-looking, smart, loved people, and who lived her life – a boulevarde of broken dreams – with guts, selflessness and immense courage
- My maternal grandmother and my aunt, my mum’s sister, who surrounded me with unconditional love and showered me with affection as a child and adult
- My mother-in-law who survived being an orphan and exploited servant in her ‘teens, strong-armed her husband into marriage, brought up a family, moved around without complaint as an army wife, ran a boarding house, and lived to 94 years with a steely determination and stoicism which I find admirable
- Boudicca – she drove a mean chariot and got right up the noses of the invading Romans and made their life hell
- Queen Elizabeth 1 – tough as old boots, wily, cunning, strong, determined, feisty, ruthless
- The Bronte Sisters – managed to be creative in a really difficult environment and create books which have enthralled many generations. I loved Jane Eyre as a young woman
- Mary Shelley – who created Frankenstein and inspired horror, gothic stories and movies.
- Lady Frieda Harries – who painted the beautiful images in the Thoth Tarot which I find inspirational after years of doing readings with this inspiration deck
- George Eliot – who lived life on her terms
- The Suffragettes – no individual one, but they were gutsy, courageous and determined, laying the basis for the emancipation of women
- Mary Woollstonecraft – wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women, a wayshower for women’s rights
- All the women who fought, unrecognised, in the First and Second World Wars
- Florence Nightingale – revolutionary approach to medical care, again determined, steadfast in the face of resistance and oppression
- Mo Mowlam – a minister in the UK Blair government who was Minister for Ireland, tried to be fair-minded but got nobbled by reactionaries and jealous men. Also continued to work after an operation for a brain tumour, never revealing that her weight gain (lampooned and ridiculed) was due to medication. Died with the grace and dignity which characterised her life
- Georgia O’Keeffe – US artist whose art delights and fascinates me, as well as her commitment to live life on her terms
- Frieda Kahlo, Mexican painter, who produced wonderful art despite a lifetime of pain and health challenges
- Black American women who fought for equality, freedom and the dignity of respect – too many to name.
- Aboriginal women who have also fought for rights, an end to discrimination, respect for Australia’s First Nation. Again, too many to name but active in an ever-widening range of activities, whether art, health, education and so on.
- Germaine Greer, Gloria Steinem, Betty Frieden, Anne Summers, Shulamith Firestone, Jean Shinoda Bolen and all the other feisty women’s liberationists and feminists who fought for women’s rights despite derision, obstruction and persecution
- Editorial staff of Spare Rib (UK) and Ms (US) for publishing ground-breaking feminist magazines
- Helen Mirrin, Glenda Jackson, Meryl Streep and Susan Sarandon who are great at their craft and show that you can grow old gracefully, with dignity, with humour and without plastic surgery
- Vanessa Redgrave, for her courage in living an unconventional life, staying true to her ideals, being great at her craft, and surviving the loss of her daughter and sister with enormous courage and dignity.
- Arundhati Roy, Naomi Wolf and Naomi Klein for their powerful, gutsy anti-establishment views and defence of ordinary folk when they could have remained in safer pastures
- The poet Mary Oliver whose writings I find inspirational and a gentle joy to read
- Creative women I’ve been lucky to make contact with through Facebook: Tammy Vitale, Cyndi Briggs, Chris Zydel, Deborah Weber, Jo Anne Parker, to name a few
- All the amazing women who’ve attended my workshops
- My step-daughter, step-granddaughters and step-greatgrandkids
I guess I could include all those unknown women in developing nations like India, Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere in Africa, Iran, Iraq, Syria, China and so on, who are fighting for women’s and democratic rights, and those who’ve been part of the Occupy Wall Street and We Are the 99% movements globally. But this list is endless. I could go on an on, so I’ll draw to a close. Doubtless later today or tomorrow I’ll smack my head as I remember other women I should have included.
You’ll probably notice that I haven’t listed women political leaders such as Indira Gandhi, Hilary Clinton, Condoleeza Rice, Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir or Julia Gillard in my list. That’s because they have lived or live within the system, behaved or behave just as men behave when they’re in office, playing the games, waging wars and not challenging the status quo. It might sound harsh but these women perpetuate the status quo.
I believe that, in their own ways, the women I have chosen have – in the main – opted to walk the road less travelled and have enriched my life and the lives of many, many women by doing so.