This post was inspired in part by Sue’s post on a similar topic. I’m going to follow her lead and note that I too shy away from the controversial topics of politics and religion, but some topics are too important to ignore.
Firstly, I have to say that Sue and all the feminists who came before us are my heroes. That word feminist is slightly uncomfortable on my tongue, but sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. You see, I was raised by a Marine who both pampered me and empowered me to take on the establishment. I was surrounded by strong, opinionated women who spoke up, stood out, and made a difference in their communities. I’ve never found it odd that as a petite, young female firefighter, I fought for a skirt and heels with my dress uniform. As a child of Baby Boomers, I was taught I could – and should – have it all.
I am feminine and a feminist, and I thank Sue and my other heroes for making that possible. There are two organizations very dear to my heart that share my values:
If you’ve been here more than once, you probably already know that I live and breathe Junior League. But I fail to speak of my early leadership (and girl power!) training through the Girl Scouts, and that’s a shame. As I’ve pleaded with you to get to know MY Junior League (we’re not white gloves and pearls), I’m going to ask you to click over and get to know the “new” Girl Scouts. They took the long, hard road a few years ago and realized they were no longer relevant and they recalibrated.
I had the distinct privilege of hearing the CEO-emeritus Kathy Cloninger speak last Saturday. I also had my eyes opened as she began her address; nearly every single Junior League president-elect and other rising leaders in the room was a Girl Scout, Blue Bird, Campfire Girl, etc. So… if you haven’t ordered some diet-busting cookies, when you see your local troop outside a grocery store, stop and buy a box or give them a donation. It’s an investment in our collective futures.
Kathy has written a book advocating women in leadership. I’m not saying – nor is she! – that we need to boot the men out of the board rooms, but she has hard facts about how much more effective co-ed, balanced boards are… or could be. Check out Tough Cookies for yourself. I have a feeling I’m going to use it as a required reading assignment before our (League) board retreat this summer. (Disclaimer: I have a free copy of the book on its way to me… we missed the distribution of said book at the conference because of our flight schedule.)
As I told Sue, while the complacency about women’s rights sometimes upsets me too, I also feel it’s a sign of the progress we have made. It’s not yet time to rest on our laurels though. As women, we need to vote, write our politicians when they aren’t representing us to our satisfaction, and to my way of thinking, most of all we need to mentor the girls growing up around us.
This isn’t a call to arms, but it is a cry for open eyes and hearts. I don’t believe one has to choose between a career and family, but I’m glad that there are options, and some of the smartest, most successful women I know are devoted full-time to raising well-adjusted children. Likewise, I know a few men I’ve heard joke about being “Mr. Mom”, and I think that’s beyond awesome and can’t wait for it to no longer be a novelty.
This is my passion. When I chose to leave the fire service to support my inlaws’ family business, I hadn’t really recognized that I was leaving one male-dominated career for another. And honestly, it’s not the same… I am “staff” here, which isn’t as revolutionary as a petite little gal driving a big ol’ fire truck. And I refuse to apologize for being a lifetime Leaguer. Any preconceived notions you have about me based on that statement…
Well, I’d be happy to talk with you about them. I’m proud to claim a League legacy via women in my own family, but who wouldn’t be proud to stand with women like Mary Harriman, Sandra Day O’Connor, Eleanor Roosevelt and other inspiring women? I am “committed to developing the potential of women and improving our community through effective action and leadership…” and the Junior League gives me a very effective vehicle to affect such change.
Do you have a passion or two? Are you mission-driven?