Historically Women Are Silenced
Episode 9 describes how the lack of women in leadership is attributed to the existing system in the U.S. Women’s voices have been silenced in this country since its invasion by the British over 400 years ago. Women were considered weak and harborers of evil. The population of Salem literally burned women at the stake when falsely accused of being witches. Women remained “second class citizens” without rights for property ownership or personal income. By 1900, women would be imprisoned and beaten for demanding the right to vote. This country refuses to pass into law a mandate for equal pay and equal rights for women.
Men have made the rules of how women will be treated and used in this country. So, isn’t that the sign that we shouldn’t be trying to gain equity to this type of thinking but rather, create our own system, our own set of rules. After all, we are the majority in this country. Why are we trying to be recognized in a system that is set on keeping us silent by threat of abuse or inequity? Why are we financially supporting a system that keeps the power in the hands of those who oppress us?
Share Women’s Stories
Well, there are plenty of women who have refused to buy into the system and instead created one of their own that we as a society have all benefited from, even the men. These women are only now being recognized for their contributions to the world populace. Their stories are finally being shared globally so that other young women and girls can aspire to livelihoods with a female model.
Unless the stories were shared by the previous generation, many historical women have been lost in the silence of the past. It is up to us now to resurrect the women’s phenomenal life stories, in the context of their time, to illustrate just how powerful and determined they were to succeed in their aspirations. Even in their own time, women have been denied their rightful recognition for discoveries, inventions, works of art, etc.. and the income and accolades that men receive.
Women’s Stories Fuel Your Own
Personally, I had been surrounded by stories within my family dynamics from childhood. My mother, our matriarch, created wealth and life in our family and shared stories of her mother, a single mother of 3 girls upon the death of her husband. I wouldn’t say my father was quite the feminist but he was so proud of his birth state, Wyoming, be the first State to have a women governor, Nellie Ross. This stoked my curiosity to learn the stories of any woman who might have been involved in the areas that my journey took me through; dance, piano, art, math, engineering, sports.
But, the time I most needed the depth of women’s stories was as a single mom myself. I was the only girl in my family, the only woman at the engineering firm I worked at and the only woman in my friend group that was single with children. It was a period of isolation and unknown. I felt knocked off my career path and behind in my financial gain.
Thankfully, I turned to the stories of women I had learned about for guidance and hope. I had already known of Georgia O’Keeffe, the artist of the early 1900’s, who had reached her highest recognition late in her life, in her 80’s. This brought me comfort knowing that regardless of my immediate situation, I could always strive towards success at any age.
Still, I needed comfort from the isolation of my very male world, so I leaned on the story of Dolores Huerta, the women rights activist from the 60’s. Dolores had fought alongside Cesar Chaves for the rights of agriculture workers who were neglected by the industry and take advantage of. A fierce supporter for women and children, Dolores had continued on to advocate on a national platform so that by the 90’s, she was a powerful presence that gave me solace and partnered.
When developing the idea for this podcast, I reflected on all the women that had gotten me to this point, through all the highs and lows of a full life. I wanted to pay them homage because without them, I would not have learned of my unknown strengths, my deep courage and my overly active curiosity and self-learning skills. These traits were the leaders in getting me to this moment of life achievement and I wanted to thank the women in a personal way.
Create a W.O.W! ~ Wall of Women
So, I created a Wall of Women, my W,O.W.; a gallery wall of black and white photos in various sizes of some of these powerful women. I could possibly put all of them on one wall, or even within one house. Instead, I rotate pictures of women that I need to see on a daily basis, for whatever reason I feel.
Center to them all, is my mother, also a Consuelo, who was way ahead of her time in intelligence, creativity and independence. She reveled in learning new talents like Chinese Watercolor, painting fine porcelain and professional floral arrangement. These were mere hobbies to her brilliance in starting an engineering corporation in 1969, just 14 years after coming to America. She was competitive and silly; courageous and loving; generous, stoic and gorgeous.
Of course, I surrounded her with Hedy Lamarr, the gorgeous inventor of the system we use today for Bluetooth but that Hollywood only portrayed as a pinup girl. And Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a perfect companion for a matriarch who refused to be silenced by the domineering male psyche of the 1950’s. There’s also Malala, Serena, Alice Waters, Shirley Chisholm and more; ladies who I greet daily, eye to eye, and give gratitude for their intelligence and wild, daring persistence to live true to who they were born to be.
And, in the middle of all of them, at my eye level, is a round mirror. I stand in front of it and see myself as one of them, in hope that I, too, will persist to live true to myself. I think about the amazing fun and conversation that would happen with the actual women in the room. But for now, I give them a virtual hug and honor them by being the best version of myself, with joy and commitment to succeed for the greater good.