Won­der women

Baltimore Sun - - NATION - Judy Ber­man, Halethorpe

The Sun­day be­fore Elec­tion Day, I bought a book “Won­der Women: 25 In­no­va­tors, In­ven­tors and Trail­blaz­ers Who Changed His­tory” for a very spe­cial, in­tel­li­gent, and cu­ri­ous 9-year-old girl. I planned to give it to her for Christ­mas so she could see that Hil­lary Clin­ton was part of a long line of achiev­ing women and that she could do any­thing she wanted. My heart sank in the early hours of Wed­nes­day, Nov. 9, as I wit­nessed the un­rav­el­ing of a dream that I had since I was a lit­tle girl to see our first fe­male pres­i­dent, and the elec­tion of a man who has the po­ten­tial to un­wind progress that pre­dated my birth.

I thought about mak­ing a list of 25 women who changed my per­sonal his­tory. I be­gin here with five. I plan to share this, and the book, with my 9-year-old friend on Thanks­giv­ing. I want to thank her for car­ry­ing for­ward the work of these five amaz­ing women.

1. Alice Paul. A key player in the move­ment to ob­tain women the right to vote, I had a strong con­nec­tion to her as she went to the same school I went to and lived in my town. Thanks to her and the work of her fel­low suf­fragettes, I could vote for Hil­lary. I had the priv­i­lege of in­ter­view­ing her in 1977 from her nurs­ing home for my school news­pa­per. She fa­mously asked, “How long must women wait for lib­erty?”

2. Joan Rivers. On our black and white TV in the early ’60s, my mother and I used to watch her on “The Mike Dou­glas Show.” Her ir­rev­er­ent style made it OK for women to buck the tra­di­tional house­wife role and to make fun of their hus­bands. I had the priv­i­lege of meet­ing Joan at the now his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant White House Correspondent’s din­ner in 2011 at which Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Seth Mey­ers made fun of Don­ald Trump. She was so warm and wel­com­ing when I told her how my mother and I bonded over her com­edy.

3. Glo­ria Steinem. In what was my first act of be­ing a “Nasty Woman,” I told my sev­enth-grade teacher that he was be­ing a male chau­vin­ist pig. And I had a sign in my room that said “A woman with­out a man is like a fish with­out a bi­cy­cle.” Thank you, Glo­ria, for help­ing me find my voice and giv­ing me some good words to use with it.

4. Kather­ine Gra­ham. I spent the sum­mer of 1974 watch­ing the Water­gate hear­ings (on a color TV), and I count “All the Pres­i­dent’s Men” as one of my fa­vorite movies. But it wasn’t un­til I read her au­to­bi­og­ra­phy that I un­der­stood the risks that she and The Wash­ing­ton Post took to ex­pose cor­rup­tion. I was at the be­gin­ning of my ca­reer in the news­pa­per in­dus­try when I read her story, and she was an in­spi­ra­tion to me.

5. Hil­lary Clin­ton. I am also a proud Seven Sis­ters col­lege grad­u­ate (Bryn Mawr, not Welles­ley) and have faced the nasty com­ments from the Steve Ban­nons of the world. Her per­se­ver­ance de­spite con­stant crit­i­cism, her un­wa­ver­ing ded­i­ca­tion to the causes she is pas­sion­ate about, and her im­pec­ca­ble prepa­ra­tion are at­tributes I as­pire to. Thank you for liv­ing through many of the same dis­ap­point­ments I have felt, with grace, gen­eros­ity and hu­mor. I can’t wait to see what your next chap­ter brings to the world.

One more thing: Be­fore I give the book to my 9-year-old friend, I will read it my­self. And I will con­tinue to thank those women who came be­fore, those here now, and those whose work is yet to come.

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