Sunday, January 07, 2007

Madame Speaker -- Huzzah!

I've been happily absorbed in all the media coverage of Nancy Pelosi's ascension ot Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. I caught a smattering of it on the tube as I was leaving for work Wednesday, then read the text of her speech online and found some video on my iBook at work, then spent too much time in my local Peet's Coffee reading the many articles about her, her career and family in the SF Chronicle. I got teary listening to her eloquent acceptance speech. I wave my pointy black hat in celebration.

At the tea given for Nancy the day before her swearing in, she specifically pointed out the influece of one of her mentors, the late Congresswoman Sala Burton of San Francisco (wife of Rep. Phillip Burton, he who brought the splendid GGNRA to the Bay Area) and the late Gov. Ann Richards of Texas. (Ann once said of our current President, "Poor George, he can't help it...He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.") I got misty watching her bring all the House women up on stage with her (including our own Lynn Woolsey), plus Senators Barbara Mikulski and Dianne Feinstein. I've watched all of their careers for so many years, with admiration.

When Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro was chosen at Walter Mondale's Vice Presidential running mate in 1984, I cried. I found Second Wave Feminism in the '60s, and the idea of a woman actually running for a national office of that magnitude struck many of us as a great accomplishment that women of my generation could barely have imagined possible.

But even before that, in 1972, I campaigned for the first African-American woman to serve in the U.S. Congress, the late Shirley Chisholm of Brooklyn, in her bid for the presidency in the primaries. Congresswoman Chisholm gave this speech in support of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1970, and in spite of our now having many, but not enough, women in the Senate, the House, governors' mansions, state legislatures, city halls and school boards, we still have not managed to pass an amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing our equal rights as women.

I'm encouraged by Nancy Pelosi's accomplishment, her sense of optimism, and her energetic beginning. Recent conversations with younger women, my daughter and stepdaughter among them, and with friends of my vintage about their daughters' attitudes, lift my spirits and warm my heart. I'm on board with Third Wave Feminism. Let's keep the dialogue going. Let's keep up the pressure for our rights. Let's change culture.

Thank you, Madame Speaker, for your work, and for the role model you offer our daughters and granddaughters.


Anonymous said...

You're right, we still don't have the Equal Rights Amendment, but we're still working on that. We just need more people like you to help us. We won't gain legal equality simply by reminiscing. Get on board the campaign at

Dharma Kelleher said...

One of my favorite quotes is, "Feminists just want the human race to be a tie." This is a great next step in the journey to equality!


Al said...

I find myself skeptical that she will really be better or different than the rest of her profession, window dressing aside.

Broomstick Chronicles said...

Hi Al,

I'm too old to be unremittingly optimistic, but if we don't maintain some hope, if we don't envision the goal, we'll not get anywhere. For our children, if not for ourselves, I am audacious enough, as Barak Obama puts it, to choose hope.

Nice to see you around cyberspace, if not in terraspace.

Al said...

I live in Oakland now, dontchaknow?

I may see you at Pantheacon if I take a day trip there but I won't be staying there the weekend.

As to being optimistic, if I believed that the Democrats were a party that meant anything, I might agree. Simply being "not as bad as the Republicans" doesn't cut it for me. I'll still vote for them (what choice do I have?) but I don't think they actually represent me or other normal people anymore than the Republicans do. They're all corrupt and they're all bought and sold by the powers-that-be. Those powers want us enslaved to their vision of society and consumerism, not free and growing individuals that question things...

Hecate said...

You can watch Nancy's swearing in on YouTube. I did once, but it made such a blubbery mess of me that I can't do it again. Guess why she wore purple? In honor of the original Suffraettes. A grandmother! Holding a grandchild! In charge of the Congress! And I lived to see it! I am with my mother's mother's mothers.

Broomstick Chronicles said...

You may know of the late Alison Harlow, a Faery/Feri Witch and one of the founders of the Covenant of the Goddess. Stories were told at her memorial of her Suffragette grandmother riding a horse down Fifth Avenue (or whatever street it was) in support of women's right to vote.

deborahoak said...

Macha, this is a beautiful post. Thank-you.