Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Female Heroes
First off, how many times do we put those two words together? Just think about that for a moment.

Sad, isn't it?

I've been thinking about the women I admire - thinking yesterday of my friend who is moving away, and then about my wife who somehow manages to keep sane (mostly) while staying at home with our kids full time - but those are not my role models. Where were the role models growing up - the ones who showed me what being a strong, independent woman was about? There was my mom, and she was the best mom of all time, and taught me more about being a great mom than I will probably ever understand, but a "mom" was not what I wanted to be when I grew up. So, who did I admire? The astronauts, the actors, the writers, the singers - mostly all male. The women in those categories generally did not interest me - they were "frilly straight" women, acting in a subordinate roles or singing about men, and though I did not understand it then, those messages did not speak to me at all. There were female teachers that were wonderful. OK, but like Mom, very traditional female roles they were fulfilling and not particularly inspiring. The only women I can rember admiring as a child are Harriet Tubman and The Bionic Woman.

So, now, when I look to the women I admire, who are they, and why? Melissa Etheridge, Tret Fure, Cris Williamson, Ellen Degeneres, Ilene Chaiken, Rosie O'Donnell - what do these people have in common? Right - all performers, with the exception of Ilene Chaiken, but the connection to performers is obvious, once you realize she is the creator of The L Word. The people who I have access to - NO - who have access to influencing me - have been performers and those are the women who in my mind have made it and are successful. There are no lawyers or judges or politicians in my personal circle that I can look to and say, "Yes, I want to be like her." (Does Amy from Judging Amy count? I didn't think so.)

Maybe this isn't even as much a male/female issue as a mass media issue. My definition of success has been oddly swayed by Hollywood and the mainstream recording industry. (To be fair, Tret Fure and Cris Williamson cannot be accused of being part of the mainstream recording industry. They were pioneers for women in music, but I will save their tribute for another time.) If we throw in my all-time favorite author, Stephen King...and actually most of my favorite authors are men....mainstream publishing can be added so we cover most major entertainment outlets. THAT has been telling me how to be a successful person (man, really, but my brain has translated that message - I think). I can sit here as a fairly intelligent person, well-educated, in touch with my feelings, stable..blah, blah, blah...and realize that though I may become a successful lawyer, unless I somehow am featured on Rosie O'Donnell's next version of a talk show (or Ellen's), I may not ever think I am truly successful. Wow. That is a big confession. It is also very sick and sad and I could tell you a million reasons why that is wrong.

I think I'll not go into that now, but I will point out a positive - every one of those women is an out lesbian. I have found OUT role models that I admire, in great part, due to them being out lesbians. To them, I say, THANK YOU.


Kat said...

Great blog! I'm a straight gal but many of them are my heros as well, especially Melissa, and for me it's about strong women continuing to be in control...I love it. Thanks for a good read. :-)

PS Good luck in law school!

patti_cake said...

Good blog Dakota and Happy Pride.

Packof2 said...

What about Sheryl Swoopes? I love that girl:)