My family used to take a lot of road trips and we would stop at those markers by the side of the road that tell what important thing happened there. I remember realizing at some point that most of these markers – and most statues and monuments – were about men. I was shocked, for …
In honor of the end of Black History Month and the beginning of Women’s History Month, today’s Random Five spotlights five young women you’ve probably never read about in any history textbook. All of them stared down racial and gender discrimination to live their lives out loud – and changed American history in the process. …
What a difference a decade makes. It’s hard to wrap my head around the idea that ten years ago, I was an awkward thirteen year-old choir nerd in Lubbock, Texas who had a secret desire to be the first female president but knew that probably wasn’t possible, so I’d settle for being a choir director instead. I just knew in my heart of hearts that I’d never leave my hometown, that I was too fat to ever be loved by anyone, and that my classmates were right when they dismissed me as a strange crybaby with a penchant for the dramatic.
Last year when I returned to Texas for Thanksgiving, my grandmother pulled two drawers of jewelry out of her closet and dumped them in the middle of the living room floor. As she picked up each piece, she put it on, modeled it in the mirror and passed it to me to do the same. While we played dress-up, she told me the stories and memories associated with each piece.
The necklace with the enigmatic Asian woman dancing across the silver was a gift from my grandfather when his company stopped in Shanghai. The delicate pearl bracelets were from the streets of Paris when she was a sixteen year-old new mom living on a base. I didn’t know she’d ever lived in Jamaica until she pulled out bright strings of beads and showed me, as local women had taught her, how to wear them as both necklaces and belts.
I don’t listen to much popular music anymore because, as a New Yorker, my iPod has permanently replaced my car radio. I’m not forced to listen to the mostly repetitive Top 40 list I did in high school anymore – I’ll live happily in my world of feminist spoken word poets and classical opera, thank you very much!
But on a recent trip back home to Texas I spent a lot of time in my brother’s Camaro listening to the tunes he and his friends and probably most Americans my age are hearing every day. I’ll say this, in my humble opinion: if the music we listen to is seen as a representation of the social worth our generation, as are the Beatles and Joan Jett and Bob Dylan of previous generations, we might just be the sex obsessed, materialistic, shallow people that cranky adults are always telling me we are.
A few weekends ago, an international group of (mostly) women gathered at the Omega Institute in upstate New York for the annual Women and Power conference to discuss and practice the year’s theme of “Connecting Across the Generations.”
And as luck would have it, GLI was well represented by an intergenerational delegation consisting of Rachel Simmons, Lilly, a seventeen year-old high school senior who attended camp the summer before her freshman year, and me.
Meeting Lilly and hanging out with her family of fun, powerful women was one of the highlights of the conference. A close second was hearing her fascinating excuse for not taking part in the Sophomore Summer program: she attended the Young Women’s Political Retreat in DC, put on by Running Start, an organization dedicated to inspiring young women to run for office. She enjoyed it so much that she’s interning at the organization this semester.