On our recent trip to Cabo San Lucas, I decided to bring along a couple of magazines. One of them was More Magazine. I noticed it on the newsstand section of our local supermarket about two years ago. Its tagline, “For Women of Style & Substance,” piqued my curiosity. Since then, I have purchased an issue here and there. Recently, I noticed their articles, short stories and even challenges have become more interesting and diverse. I thought maybe I can afford a little light reading while at the same time, fill myself in on what’s current— for women “in my age group.” Why not?
I poured through the magazine while sitting on the terrace of our suite. I especially enjoyed the article entitled, “The Fierce List.” It also stated it’s their 3rd annual list too. I guess I missed the first two.
The article salutes women “who have made headlines, strides and waves…” These are women who have stuck their necks out, risked their privacy, status, reputation, and even at times, their lives, to express what they are passionate about. And in their efforts at excellence in their craft, at looking at adversity in the eye and taking them on mano-a-mano, never mind what convention dictates or what the powers-that-be have insisted on all these years, — they have earned our respect, adulation, and affection.
Here are some notables in the list of 50, not necessarily in any order. Of the list, these are people I know about and have admired:
- Julia Gillard – Australia’s first woman prime minister for not tolerating women-haters, especially those in the Australian legislature.
- Sandra Fluke – after Rush Limbaugh’s failed attempts to denigrate her reputation, Ms. fluke is on the road to her best revenge: becoming a successful women’s rights legal advocate. We are rooting for her! I have posted about this here.
- Malala Yousafzai – the young fifteen year old girl gunned down by the Pakistan Taliban for advocating education for women in her country. Shame on these people. Pick on someone your size!
- Russian Punk Rockers Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, members of the band Pussy Riot – now swerving two-year jail sentences for publicly speaking out against Vladimir Putin’s policies.
- Soosan Firooz – Afghanistan’s first female rapper, who has been the target of fundamentalist extremists for her feminist and social justice themes.
- Lisa Brown – Michigan state representative who used the word, vagina, while speaking on the legislative floor against the bill that would have required doctors to hadn’t been coerced before they provided an abortion. She was barred from speaking on the floor the next day because the stuffy old windbags thought she “violated decorum.” Did they not know that vagina is a medical, biological, and technical and proper term for the female sexual organ? Well, Ms Brown and her female colleagues performed “The Vagina Monologues” on the steps of the Capitol building. Take that!
- Jasmeen Patheja – founder of Blank Noise, launched in Bangalore 10 years ago, the organization is dedicating its activities to changing the misogynistic culture so deeply ingrained in India. Watch her Vimeo post here.
- Olympia Snowe, former US senator from Maine, has joined the forces with PAC that will focus on encouraging a common ground in our Congress.
- Helen Hunt – She appears in the movie “The Sessions” as a sex therapist. In it she appeared onscreen with her middle-aged nude body. Reminds us of many European films that celebrate the female anatomy in all ages. This is refreshing for the US screen
- Edith Windsor – She inherited her wife, Thea Spyer’s estate after Spyer passed away in 2009. This has left Ms. Windsor with federal estate taxes ($365K) because their union is not recognized.
- Marissa Mayer – Yahoo president and CEO, former Google Executive. Way to go, Marissa! Can you make Yahoo hip again?
- Kerry Walsh Jennings and Misty-May Treanor – Best beach volleyball team ever! They’re great emulatable people too! Watching them play is pure pleasure.
I found the others mentioned on the list admirable and inspiring. But here’s my list:
- AIDS researchers Hannah Gay, Katherine Luzuriaga, Deborah Persaud – for working in concert up to their desired endpoint: curing a child born with AIDS from an affected mother. What a breakthrough!
- Sheryl Sandberg – founder of Lean In, a book and a foundation that fosters equality. “By inspiring and “enraging” members of both sexes, she is cultivating gender communication so that change and improvement will come about.”
- Gabby Giffords – Former U.S. Representative from Arizona. We all know what happened in Tucson, Arizona in 2011. Early this year, she and her husband, Mark Kelly, started a PAC (Americans for Responsible Solutions). She has been a vocal spokesperson after the Newtown tragedy and has tirelessly advocated for addressing gun violence.
- Aung San Suu Kyi – Burmese political leader, having been released from house arrest for almost two decades. We are all rooting for her success in facilitating Burma’s turnaround.
- Cecile Richards – president of Planned Parenthood. In spite of having been the target of many a right-wing extremist or even the Susan Komen Foundation fiasco, Cecile Richards continues to shine. You go, girl!
- Sally Jewell – Former REI CEO, now the 51st U.S. Secretary of the Interior, and accomplished mountaineer.
- Melinda Gates – I have been a long-time fan. But recently, my hats off to Melinda for her new program to put contraception back into the conversation and make it universally available. For me, it’s her way of “if the river cannot go through the mountain, the river will go around the mountain!”
- Angelina Jolie – I think I’ve said enough about her here.
- My Mother, Milagros L. Yee. She co-founded a successful food company in spite of pooh-poohing from other family members. As far back as the sixties, she banned smoking in all her retail locations. She also banned it from the workplace. Workers had to smoke outside the building. She also insisted on pay parity. You have to admit, she was way ahead of her time.
- Dr. Nenette A. Devilla – “Auntie Nette,” cardiologist from Toronto, who has always approached her work, her family, and all other aspects of her life with genuine presence and passion. I have always been a great admirer.
- Baby G. Herrera – longtime friend, sounding board, and confidante. We can always pick up from where we left off. My dearest friend from way back in my childhood days. So wise and capable. So patient and kind. Such a big heart. I think they wrote the saying “the impossible will only take a little longer” after her.
- My two sisters-in-law, Esmeralda O. Lyn and Agnes O. Hassell. For their strong opinionated opinions, their sound moral compass, and their courage through the not-so-women-friendly world over the tumultuous years.
- My daughter, Lara – for having such solid principles and the passion to pursue your dreams. From one angry feminist to a fellow angry feminist! I am honored to be considered a best friend. I will live vicariously through you from the stories you share.
I have others in my list, like the women who were brave enough to walk away (Wendy, Maj, Gean, Des, and more) or the women who, by living their lives have inspired and encouraged, always have their hands full but when life throws them curve balls, they catch it with their teeth!!! (Sheelagh, Dale, Luba, Nettie, Mei-lin, Liz, Eileen, Loudette, Libet, more). But I will stop here.
Shall we join them? Shall we be counted too? I’m in!
- Sandra Fluke Keynote Speaker This Weekend In Richmond, VA Celebrating ‘War On Women’ Activism (addictinginfo.org)
- Burma: Can Aung San Suu Kyi Deal With Constitutional Change? – OpEd (eurasiareview.com)
- Gabby Giffords Bullies Senate, NYT Editorial Page, Again (wonkette.com)
- Gillard Says Bitter Opponents Deriding Julia Won’t Be Successful – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- The Sessions (legallybod.wordpress.com)
- Obama Praises Work of Planned Parenthood (blogs.wsj.com)
- Melinda Gates’ $4.3 Billion Prayer For Contraception Crosses Politics and Religion (Forbes.com)
addendum: Cheri Rowland recently called out to describe “Fierce.” I remembered this post from a few years ago.