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Archive for the ‘Women and Society’ Category

Mom, Dad and me at Camp Le Jeune, 1952

To some of us boomers, 1952 was a very big year. I was born at Camp LeJeune where my Dad was training young Marines to fight in Korea. This war in which 1.8 million Americans served came only 6 years after World War II ended with America’s first use of an atomic bomb at Hiroshima. In the early ’50s, our post-World War II world was still reeling from the loss of 78 million people, comprising 4% of the world’s population.
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According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans today are evenly divided between the “pro-life” and “pro-choice” camps. Last week’s rollercoaster fiasco involving the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood has reignited the abortion debate, at the same time that insurance covering contraception is being blasted by the Catholic Church as an infringement on “religious freedom.” (more…)

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Margaret and Denis Thatcher (photo credit: Martin Cleaver/AP)

There is a scene in the new movie “Iron Lady” which made me cry. When Sir Denis Thatcher asks Margaret Roberts, the daughter of a grocer to marry him, she tells him that she cannot be a typical wife who stays home washing tea cups. His immediate response was that her passion for a political life is exactly why he wanted to marry her. This unusual proposal took place in 1950 Britain, when few women were working, let alone in Parliament.

This historic partnership, which began when Margaret and Denis married in 1951, enabled Margaret to become a barrister and Britain’s first female Prime Minister. Throughout her political career, Denis remained fully supportive as both Lady Margaret’s husband and full-time father to their twins. The movie portrays Denis as a man well before his times, one who was comfortable being married to a strong, successful woman.
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Esraa Abdel Fattah (photo credit: Vital Voices)

I had the honor of introducing Esraa Abdel Fattah at the Middle East Institute’s 65th annual banquet dinner this week.  Esraa, 33, now famous as Egypt’s “Facebook Girl,” helped mobilize the January 25th demonstration in Cairo which sparked the Egyptian revolution that brought down President Mubarak.  In recognition of her efforts, Esraa was considered for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.
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I have always loved Halloween. When I was a kid, I would dress up as anything I wanted to be, no matter how unrealistic.  This included everything from ballerinas to President of the United States. When my kids were growing up, we continued to live vicariously by hosting parties to bob for apples followed by neighborhood trick-or-treating in bright colored costumes with outstretched arms holding UNICEF milk cartons.

This annual celebration of ghosts and scary creatures is not religious, and is enjoyed by all families with children. Halloween provides a benign outlet for horror fantasies.

Less benign is the horror creeping into American families by conservative politics. (more…)

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Christine Lagarde, the new Managing Director of the IMF, came to our nation’s capital last week for the annual meetings of the World Bank and IMF. Ms. Lagarde, France’s former Finance Minister who famously replaced the philandering Dominique Strauss-Khan, has taken on a leading role to address the global economic crisis. At 55, Ms. Lagarde is a commanding presence who exudes unshakeable confidence.

Ms. Lagarde’s experience and rise to the top inspire me. But the reason I am writing about her today, is her hair. (more…)

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Jacqueline Kennedy

When Jacqueline Kennedy made her recently publicized tapes in 1964, four months after Jack’s assassination, I was 11 years old. Jackie typified wives of her time by remaining loyal in glorifying Jack’s achievements while sublimating the pain inflicted by the flagrant affairs Jack publicly enjoyed. I was growing up in a Boston bedroom community where these marriages were the norm. Moms raised kids at home while dads worked (and had affairs). In my world, mothers simply did not have careers, as it reflected poorly on the husband’s ability to support his family.

Those single women who didn’t marry right after college worked to support themselves until they found a husband. I remember these working women as my teachers, nurses and airline stewardesses. This fall’s TV lineup with a return of “Mad Men” and the new “Playboy Club” and “Pan Am” amplifies for today’s youth how it was back then for these women. (more…)

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