Rujizzle's World

"Live for yourself and not what the world wants you to be. You're beautiful in and out and you're worth it, and don't think otherwise"

Dear Diary...

Phenomenal Woman x 3

Posted by Rujizzle on May 16, 2012 at 2:05 AM

Over the past couple of months, I've been blessed and honored to be in the midst and acquainted myself with some fantastic women in society who are movers and shakers in various areas of life. These women include Dr. Sarah Weddington, Ms. Eleanor Clift, and Dr. Katrina Bell McDonald.

On March 28th, I had the opportunity of meeting Dr. Sarah Weddington. The program was called How to Keep Winning for Women and Reproductive Freedom, a free lecture done by Dr. Weddington, and was hosted by Womanspace (a feminist organization at my university) and the local Planned Parenthood organization. Dr. Weddington is popularly known for successfully arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 in the landmark decision Roe v. Wade. She is a nationally acclaimed lawyer, professor and women's rights advocate known for her work on issues affecting women. Having won Roe v. Wade at the age of 26 years, she is the youngest person ever to argue successfully a Supreme Court case. She has held numerous leadership roles at the state and federal level. Today, she practices law in Austin, Texas.

Dr. Weddington shared many stories about growing up as a girl in Texas in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as what it was like being a woman aspiring to be a lawyer but had no role models in law practice. She shared stories about the times that women were not allowed to have bank accounts, property, and certain titles in the public sphere that were not domestic work. During her talk, it made me realize how far women's issues such as women's reproductive rights and rights as a whole have come a long way. In addition, I realized my privilege of being a woman in today's society with many opportunities, in contrast to how difficult it was for many women in the past with regards to advancement in academia and sexual health.

In mid-April, I had the opportunity to have breakfast with Ms. Eleanor Clift. I was chosen among several students in the department of Women's and Gender Studies (WGS) in my university by our department's director; WGS is my Minor. It was a humbling opportunity, and I was very grateful to have met such a phenomenal woman and be in the midst of my peers who were terrific individuals in my university and society as a whole. Ms. Eleanor Clift is a political reporter, television pundit, and author. She is currently a contributing editor for Newsweek magazine. Her column, "Capitol Letter" is posted each week on the Newsweek and MSNBC websites. She is a regular panelist on the nationally syndicated show The McLaughlin Group. She is also a political contributor for the Fox News Channel. Ms. Clift is a Board Member at the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF).

At the breakfast session, Ms. Clift shared her lived experiences in academia, journalism, women's rights, politics, business, love relationships, motherhood, and many more topics. She also gave us the students opportunities to talk about our various endeavors in our communities. It was great hearing the students share their various majors, and she was very impressed with some of the women that had multiple majors and were crossing boundaries. Ms. Clift shared that she highly admired our works and love the fact that we were such versatile and driven young, feminist, women. She answered many of our questions, and shared personal experiences about her struggles trying to get to the top as a journalist and writer in a field that was predominantly filled with men. She talked about her connection to the role women play in the show Mad Men and its parallelism to her reality when she was finding her niche in journalism; she detailed stories of how she pushed through for jobs in the public spheres when some other women settled for the gendered jobs. The students and I had a great chat with Ms. Clift, the meal was delicious, and I was happy to have received a copy of her book, Votes for Women (which she is signing in the picture below).

To sum up my list of phenomenal women I recently crossed paths with is Dr. Katrina Bell McDonald. Dr. McDonald is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the Johns Hopkins University. Born in Texas and raised in Sacramento, California, she joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins in 1994 as she was completing her last year of doctoral study at the University of California, Davis. In 2006, she became the second woman of color to be awarded tenure at Hopkins. I got to meet Dr. McDonald because I was currently reading her book, Embracing Sisterhood: Class, Identity, and the Contemporary Black Woman; it was one of the assigned readings for my Black Woman in the U.S. course I took this past Spring semester. Embracing Sisterhood analyzes how contemporary black women’s ideas of black womanhood and sisterhood merge with social class status to shape certain attachments and detachments among them.  

Dr. McDonald's guest lecture in my class was very interesting and refreshing to have been part of, and I was very grateful for her to have come to my university to answer some questions about her book, her life, and her activism in academia with emphasis on the Black American community and Black women. She talked further about her research done in Baltimore when writing the book and also the relationships she built with the multiple women interviewed for her book. A topic that I particularly enjoyed that she discussed was interracial marriage between Black Americans and other races. I found her perspective and other researched experiences to be quite interesting. I plan to write further about this topic in an upcoming post. I especially took interest in her overall presentation because she had a wonderful sense of humor, and I consider her to be a "plain preacher" in how she addressed multiple issues and conversations made.

I highly recommend sitting through a lecture or program with these phenomenal women. They have so much knowledge and wise words to share, and I think are great role models to all people. The recurring theme in the conversations with these three women is women's status in society, whether it is in journalism, academia, reproductive rights, race, and many more. The gray hairs on the heads of these women tell stories of struggle, resilience, success, and drive. They have paved the way for girls and women like me and others in fields that in past times we had no chance of entering or even having the thought of gaining success.

I salute these women, and I am proud to call myself Woman!

Categories: Phenomenal Woman

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