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Changing of the Guard

Editor’s Note:  On this Memorial Day, TMM thanks all Veterans and active-duty members of America’s Armed Forces – and honors those who made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives to protect all of us and our democracy. We dedicate this post on women’s contributions to our country (and the world), by Staff Writer Laurentine Nicoletto, to our female patriots, especially.

I walked into the living room and President Biden‘s 100-day progress report to Congress (in a House Chamber mostly empty, due to remaining pandemic precautions) was on TV. Instantaneously, I was struck by the jarring image of two women (masked, for the same reason), Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi, sitting behind the President on the podium. Not just two women, in fact, but one of them multi-racial. Biden proclaimed, “It’s about time.” REALLY?! 245 years after our Declaration of Independence, the Vice President and the Speaker of the House are, finally, both women. From where I sit, it’s long overdue.

Representative Pelosi (D-CA) became the first female Speaker of the House in 2007. We waited a mere 231 years for that milestone. Four decades earlier, two women became their nation’s first (and only) female Prime Ministers: India’s Indira Gandhi in 1966 and Israel’s Golda Meir in 1969. A decade later, Margaret Thatcher ascended to the same power position in the United Kingdom. Yep, it’s long overdue.

In a recent PBS Newshour interview with author Susan Page about her recently-released Pelosi biography, Madam Speaker, anchor Judy Woodruff said “I interviewed former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) last week… and he says that she’s not only the greatest Speaker in his lifetime; she may be the greatest House Speaker ever.” That’s high praise, coming from the other side of the aisle!

As much as I’d like to blame the good ole’ boys for keeping women out of positions of power, there have been plenty of anti-feminism, “pro-family” women who believe it is not fitting for women to hold such positions. Among them, Phyllis Schlafly, who famously led the successful 1972 campaign to stop ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). To this day, passage of the ERA remains tangled up in the courts.

A 2020 Harper’s Bazaar story quoted recently-deceased Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an ERA supporter, saying this in February, 2020: “Every constitution in the world written since the year 1950… has the equivalent of an Equal Rights Amendment, and we don’t.”

During the 2020 Black Girls Lead conference, then-candidate Harris said, “There will be people who say to you, ‘You are out of your lane.’ They are burdened by only having the capacity to see what has always been, instead of what can be. But don’t you let that burden you.”

My skin isn’t thick enough to endure criticism trailblazers like Harris, Pelosi, Gandhi, Meir, and Thatcher have had to suffer; but I have been inspired to follow in their footsteps, in my own ways. As Harris told Marie Claire magazine, “I want [young] women to know, you are powerful and your voice matters.”

Amen, Sisters. Amen.

 

Laurentine Nicoletto, TMM Staff Writer

Images: Google Images

Biden, Harris and Pelosi: Los Angeles Times

Pelosi: The Nation

Gandhi: inhermajesty.blogspot.com

Meir: Facebook

Thatcher: Quote Master

Pelosi and Boehner: NBC News

Schlafly: History.com

Ginsburg: goodmorningamerica.com

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