Friday, September 15, 2006

You were Always Worth Listening To

We awoke to the sad news that Former Governor Ann Richards had died. And although they may not know it, it is indeed a serious loss for women around the nation. She was our voice in so many ways and on so many occasions. She was a perfect illustration of the need for humor on the political stage. It’s funny that she was hardly ever identified a left wing liberal radical feminist, which she was not. She was a hard core democrat, A defender of civil rights, gay rights, and women’s rights, and she was serious about her commitment to those issues. But she came to the national political stage because she was incredibly well versed, smart, flamboyant, and had a fabulous sense of humor about the most serious subjects. Her life always seemed full. I had the opportunity to meet and work with her on several occasions and not only did I always learn something but I was always amazed at the depth of her insight and impact on other people. She wrote books, served on National Corporate Boards, and best of all at age 60 she bought and rode a motorcycle. She was quite simply, irreplaceable. There is no one who can take her place in politics, as an activist, or as a role model.

A day or two ago I was watching the morning shows and listened to Jane Fonda talk about the new Women’s Radio Network, for which there is certainly a need. Jane said the network is not political, it is going to be entertainment, like Lifetime TV. Well, there certainly is a need for women’s radio programming that is not political. The Conservative papers describe this new effort a being an answer to Rush Limbaugh. How dreary is that. Based on all my research and experience, (I’ll share this info later), the last thing women want to hear is more caustic rhetoric about how their lives are lousy and some elected official or Party can make it better. We don’t care. We have so many issues to deal with in our real lives that what we want to listen to is something that will make us laugh, or a the very least smile. Something that, regardless of our ages, is interesting and to which we can all relate.

I have been involved in women’s issues forever. I’ve marched, pleaded, lobbied, and planned new ways to make sure women have a voice. In 1992 Sarah Kovner and I went to the powers that be at the Clinton White House and suggested that they create a White House Women’s Office. (In those days we were known as double trouble). It seemed to make some sense to the decision makers and they instituted that office. In addition, Sarah worked for Donna Shalala and we were deeply involved with the Women’s Conference in Beijing. The intergovernmental meetings we attended led to the creation of an interagency council for women. It was a place where the senior women in every agency and department could interact. For example, the senior women at the CIA, could work with the senior women at HHS to discuss the technologies available for discovering a lump in the breast. After I left government I co-founded a women’s small business loan fund. My new project involves my mother and your mother and anyone who has ever been or had a mother. There is no better preparation for \being an expert than having a mother or being a mother.

Neither of these two important Government entities exist under this Administration, and that’s a shame but that’s not my point. So do I have a point? Sure, otherwise you wouldn’t keep reading what I write. I am pretty much an overall expert on any issue having to do with women. It’s a big job but someone has to know everything. And here’s one of the things about which I am quite certain. Women would listen to talk radio if Ann Richards was the host. She was always worth listening to. There might be expectations of some banter about women and the political consequences we suffer at the hands of some legislators, but they would also expect fun and humor and an interesting discussion of timely issues. They would not even turn to the station if they thought Jane Fonda were going to do anything but give them fitness tips. And much as we all love them (Jane and Gloria and Rosie) I think women have too many depressing issues to deal with in their everyday lives, that if they thought there was any chance they were going to be harangued by Rosie O’Donnell or Gloria Steinem about political issues, (at a time when they want to relax or be entertained,) they would go running from the rooms hands over ears and screaming for mercy. We’re just sayin

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