A Turning Point for All Women.
By Brad Szollose
As a single mother, my mom would take me everywhere, driving us around in her 1962 Volkswagen Beetle. Robin’s egg blue with a gray fabric interior, it could get noisy at high speeds, and even worse, smelled horrible when you turned the nob for heat. Anyone who rode in one knows what I’m talking about.
Despite it all, that car was our little private starship, whisking us away on one adventure after another. I sat in the passenger seat holding onto the handle above the glove box pretending to help out with the driving. Some of you are horrified that at 4-years of age I was sitting in the front seat, unable to see over the dash. Remember, this was a few years before child safety laws were put in place…heck seatbelts weren’t standard until 1958, and let’s not talk about air-conditioning. That was a luxury.
Although her first name was Eleanor, I understand now why she preferred to be called by her middle name, Diane. Goddess of childbirth. Hunter. Warrior. A provider that never lost her femininity.
To put it mildly, my mother was Diana. Fiercely independent, yet she embraced her girly side with wondrous outfits and big hair. She could be loud, and outspoken at a time when there was very little support for the women’s movement. She was a nurses aid by day and a professional singer on the weekends.
My mother was a strong woman.
Our conversations on those long trips were filled with an education I can never replace. She spoke of things beyond my little mind…she spoke of how men didn’t understand women’s issues. She spoke of compassion and understanding in the face of strength, of growing up to be a tender man and to embrace my feminine side without shame.
Of course, I would understand none of this until I was older.
Eventually, my step-father would marry my mom. He was from a different era, and never quite understood her. My father was intelligent, but not deep. He was 6’2” tall and good looking, and mom was 4’11” blond and curvy. She could sing as well as anyone on television but suffered debilitating stage fright.
The first movie my mother ever took me too was The Sound of Music in 1965. Although I was only 2 at the time, I still remember that theater. We sat on the left side of the main row of seats near the front. I remember the opening scene, the puppet show, Edelweiss and the rest?…well I fell asleep.
So, what’s the point of all this?
We are awakening to something powerful. The archetypes of womenkind are being rewritten and the results are spectacular.
Just look around these days. The U.S. Women’s Hockey Team won the gold medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics beating out Canada. Talk about an upset and television viewership was through the roof.
While the U.S. Women’s soccer team now ranks #1 internationally, female sports reporters in Brazil have banned together to speak out about sexual harassment in the world of Fútbol and other sports. Their slogan “Let her work” #DeixaElaTrabalhar is a battle cry to end sexism and harassment towards women in professions that have been dominated by men for so long.
Women business warriors like UFC champion Ronda Rousey was listed in Forbes as one of the highest-paid female athletes in the world and just signed a contract with the WWE. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, encourages women to lean into their careers and fights for equal pay. Although restauranteur Barbara Elaine Smith, founder of B. Smith American was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2013, she hasn’t given up. Her syndicated TV show and restaurants are gone, but you can still find B. Smith linens and dishes and other products at top retail stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond and Walmart.
These women are more than role models, they have become icons, pointing us towards an idea whose time has arrived; THIS is the age of women.
Our daughters have strong role models to live by now. Long gone is the voice of our father’s and grandparents generations saying in all seriousness “You’re a girl, you can’t do that.”
As a matter of fact, if you ask most adult Millennial women, they will tell you stories of how their fathers cheered them on from the sidelines; whether they took up dancing or American Football, lacrosse or ballet, Jujitsu or chemistry (or both), the voices of their father’s, shouted from the rooftops “you can do it!”
My mother’s generation had Katherine Hepburn and Bette Davis, my generation had Diana Rigg, Nichelle Nichols, and Linda Ronstadt. Women who didn’t need saving. They could stand strong, and still be feminine. And yes, I had a crush on all three.
The young adults of today have had solid role models in cinema, television, and literature since 1977. Princess Leia of Star Wars solidified the idea of a warrior princess. From Leia to Xena, Captain Kathryn Janeway of Star Trek’s Voyager to Zoe Washburne of Firefly.
Hermione Granger of Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen and Rue of the Hunger Games, Black Widow of The Avengers, Starbuck in the new Battlestar Galactica, Black Widow of The Avengers, General Okoye, Scientist Shuri and Warrior Nakia of the Black Panther, Supergirl, and A Wrinkle In Time, have proven that Science Fiction and Fantasy genres respect strong women.
I am honored to have been chosen as a contributing author to SmartFem. I know somewhere, my mom is proudly watching over me, and she is especially proud of the progress today’s women have made.
I look forward to meeting all of you at future events.