Two young guys approached me on the street the other day. “We’re asking people to name women they think are really inspiring,” they told me. I was on my way to a doctor’s appointment and was frustrated that I didn’t have more time to consider their question.
“Christine Lagarde,” I said. But neither had heard of her. “French,” I said. “Was head of the International Monetary Fund. Super-smart. A formidable force on the world stage.” I apologized that I had to go and continued on my way, finding myself absorbed in my own exercise to come up with a list of all the women who inspired me. Here are a half-dozen:
– Elif Shafak: Turkish. Brilliant novelist and political activist. A walking intellectual stimulant.
– Jennifer Lopez: Started out as “Jenny from the block” and kept that pure and genuine part of herself intact as she advanced as a singer, dancer, actress, and businesswoman.
– Joni Mitchell: My first musical idol. Kept evolving as an artist all her life. Inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Her music provided the perfect ambiance for TV series like Thirty-something” in the 80s and is even more poignant in the soundtrack and story-lines of “This Is Us” today.
– Stacey Abrams: Forty-seven-year-old black woman politician who came within a hair of being elected Georgia’s governor in 2018. First African-American to deliver the State of the Union response. A name often bandied about as a possible VP or cabinet member.
– Katie Porter: Prominent member of the 2018 Freshman Class of Congressional Representatives. Spousal abuse survivor who’s now a single mother making a major contribution to changing the direction of the country.
– Kate McKinnon: Standout SNL comedian and actress. Her tribute to Ellen DeGeneres at this year’s Golden Globe Award exuded palpable gratitude for the role Ellen played in paving the way for lesbian girls desperately seeking the courage to come out.
I actually found this exercise fun and didn’t realize until this morning that it’s International Women’s Day. In fact, the whole of March is Women’s History Month, established in 1987 to commemorate women’s contributions to history, culture, and society. Shout-out to the two guys on the street who invited me to the celebration.