On Anne's Mind

That's What She Said

June 3, 2018

My Millennial son, Kevin, and I have had a running joke (usually off-color) between us for years around the expression, "That's what she said."

But in the last few weeks, "that's what she said" has taken on new meaning for me.  I'm worn-out and disgusted with the nearly daily, cultural overdose of "breaking news" coverage about the latest racist or vulgar insult some celebrity, elected official or business leader has tweeted to the world. 

I'm much more interested in wisdom being shared than in stupidity being spewed. So, here's some good news. 

For the first time in over 20 years, what she said has dominated what he said at commencement ceremonies throughout the USA.  This year, females keynote speakers, from Amal Clooney and Oprah Winfrey to Sheryl Sandberg and Queen Latifah, had the last word for graduates at the majority of American colleges and universities.  

The biggest buzz was created by the powerful message that legendary soccer champion Abby Wambach delivered to the Barnard College class of 2018. The FIFA Women's World Cup champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist challenged the all-female graduating class to "be the wolves in the world" to move society forward.

Give yourself a gift and read her entire inspiring message here. Or, better yet, watch the video

If you haven't followed USA Women's Soccer over the last decade, you may not know how dramatically Abby Wambach changed the game. You should know. This short video will help. 

Her memorable message included Four Rules she urged the next generation of women to embrace. 

  • Rule One: Make Failure Your Fuel
  • Rule Two: Lead From the Bench
  • Rule Three: Champion Each Other
  • Rule Four:  Demand the Ball

Wambach told the graduates she learned the importance of Rule Four by watching one of her soccer sheroes. 

She urged the graduates to embrace it as their rallying cry to tackle the gender bias that still awaits, telling them: "Give Me The Effing Ball! Give me the effing job! Give me the same pay that the guy next to me gets! Give me the promotion! Give me the Oval Office! Give me the respect I've earned! And give it to my wolf pack (sisters), too!" 

Abby Wambach has always been a team player, "... in search of significance, not just success," as she has often said. Significance for her team, for her sport and, most importantly, for the next generation of girls. 

I hope you'll join me in taking a page from a legendary leader's playbook and strive for signicance on our watch.  Which leaves little time for worrying about the very insignificant tweets of nobodys.

Power On!  Anne 

P.S. Two don't miss movies: RBG, the life and legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Book Club, I laughed my way through the whole thing!

Oprah for President. Really!!!

January 8, 2018

Something happened last night in Hollywood that may have an impact on the whole world. Yes, it was the #METOO and #TIME'SUP night, as women dressed in black, men wore supporting lapel pins and putting an end to sexual harassment and assault dominated Red Carpet and Honoree comments.

But the most powerful moment of the night came when Oprah Winfrey received the Cecil B. deMille Lifetime Achievement Award. It is a coveted, honorary Golden Globe, bestowed by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for "outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment." She deserved it. 

But her greatest contribution may have been her acceptance remarks, which brought tears to the eyes of many, particularly women, in the star-packed audience, and were broadcast all over the world. Her message was one for the ages. I'm not going to attempt to explain the power and impact of her words. If you stayed up late and saw it live, you witnessed history ... better yet, herstory. If you haven't seen it, you need to. Watch it several times and soak it in. Then share it. Here's the link. 

Her message re-ignited talk about Oprah Winfrey as a potential 2020 candidate for President. After last night, that talk is getting serious. And it should. 

First, because she's clearly qualified and respected all over the world. Second, because of her integrity, clarity and values, an Oprah Winfrey Administration would be the most powerful antidote I can imagine to the toxicity that has America in its nasty grip.

Do I think she could be elected? ABSOLUTELY!

As discouraged as millions of us were one year ago when we took to the streets in Washington, DC (I was there), and in cities and countries all over the world, to express our outrage over the defeat of an incredibly qualified woman by a profoundly unqualified man, I believe the United States is on the verge of electing our first woman president. I'm hoping to live long enough to witness it. 

I've also come to believe that it is more likely that an African American woman will crack that ultimate "marble ceiling" before a white woman. Why? Because I believe our culture is more comfortable with powerful, eloquent African American women, such as Oprah, than we are with white women who dare to raise their voices too much and have the audacity to aspire too high. 

What do you think? Whether you agree or disagree with me, I'd love to hear from you. If you respond to this email, I'll answer! Anne

P.S. I'm getting ready to launch my PODCAST, which will be broadcast, initially, every other week. My launch date is March 8th: International Women's Day -- and the day that a National Women's Strike is scheduled in the U.S. What interesting times we are living in. Let's not be bystanders.  

Insightful Voices on What's Next After #METOO Cultural Explosion

December 31, 2017

The New York Times recently gathered seven wise women for an insightful, roundtable discussion of the challenges and complexity of moving forward in the wake of the Silence Breakers and #METOO explosions of 2017.  One year of outing predators is just the beginning. How do we turn this moment of cultural reckoning into a positive turn on our evolutinary wheel?  Lots of thoughtful insight in this fascinating discussion about Work, Fairness, Sex and Ambition. 

Best Women's Writing on 2017 Issues

December 27, 2017

Huffington Post has compiled a fabulous collection of the most compelling commentaries written by women writers in 2017. For the next few weeks, I'm going to regularly share these outstanding voices with you. Many of the pieces are related to one of the biggest stories of the year: the #METOO explosion.   Here's "Y'All Don't Deserve Black Women," by Ashley Nkadi and first published in THE ROOT. 

What's Next After #MeToo?

December 23, 2017

December 23, 2017 -- Auburn Hills, Michigan USA

Dear Global Friends/Thinkers:

As one disturbing #MeToo story after another plays out before our national consciousness, I’ve started wondering what the best of our men are thinking. Our brothers, husbands, sons and trusted friends. Fathers, too, if you are lucky enough to still have yours.

None of the stories – not even the obscenest, nor the abundance of them – has surprised me. What has given me pause, though, is the reaction of so many well-intentioned, wonderful men who have said, “I had no idea how pervasive this is!" 

Women are all too aware of the menacing, gender iceberg that is always lurking just beneath the surface of our daily lives. Nearly all of us have been scraped by its sharp edges. Most have been at least cut or even sliced deeply. The unluckiest haven’t lived to share their stories.

In millions of deeply ingrained ways, every culture teaches females and males different stories about who we are, our place in the world and how to navigate it safely. Little boys are encouraged to learn to protect themselves from likely aggression from other males. Because most females don’t have the physical strength to out-muscle nearly any male we will encounter, girls are taught from an early age to stay out of harm’s way.

The most likely harm we must always be on guard against is from unwanted male attention. Attention that always has the potential to turn sexual. And, if we don’t cooperate, dangerous.

I've been puzzled that not one of the  most beloved men in my life has thought (or dared?) to ask, “Anne, have you ever experienced sexual harassment, or worse?” The only person who did was a radio host who was stunned by my on-air answer

Men Don't Ask. Perhaps the reason so few males realize how frequently females experience or escape from unwanted sexual attention, harassment or assault is because we don’t tell them. So, I decided to write a letter to the closest men in my life. By the time I finished, it was five, typed pages, but too painful to share.  

As I opened my memory file-drawer, scenes I’d forgotten came flooding back. They are never really forgotten, of course. Each one leaves its mark, impacting how we move through the world. And, hopefully, how we are listening now to the deluge of wounded women who are finally sharing their stories and confronting their predators.   

My earliest memory is from age 11 when a teenage boy, a stranger, tried to drag me into a neighbor’s dark garage. I knew I was in danger and ran. I never saw that boy again, but I met many of his cohorts over the years. Some were merely hanging out of cars yelling vulgarities at me, or grabbing at their crotches and hissing something obscene in my ear as we passed on the street.

Others caught me in the dark, at a moment when I made the mistake of simply being alone -- or trusting someone I thought was a friend.

And then there’s the mocking disrespect, the disdain, the sexual innuendo that all violate a woman's sense of personal safety. As a lone, female sports reporter interviewing athletes in locker rooms, I regularly absorbed gender hostility. That was considered the price of entry for women of my generation who dared to tackle all-male work environments, imposing ourselves where we were not wanted. In every decade of my life, I have been routinely reminded -- even by men who claimed to love me --  that physically over-powering me was always an option. 

But here's the saddest part of all this: there's nothing special or unusual about my experiences. Nearly every woman I know, who has lived long enough, can match me story for story. 

Dysfunctional, gender dynamics have wreaked havoc from Congressional hallways and network newsrooms to Hollywood casting couches and auto industry plant floors. Blue collar women at Ford Motor Company have endured decades of apalling harassment. And yet, it goes on and on. 

Time magazine got it right. The courageous Silence Breakers of 2017, who begn this national cleansing with the January Women's March on Washington, DC., brought this simmering outrage to a full boil with a steady drumbeat of stunning revelations about powerful men. Roger Ailes. Bill O'Reilly. Harvey Weinstein. Charlie Rose. Louis C.K. Matt Lauer. Roy Moore. John Conyers. Al Franken. Our Comander-in-Chief.

What's Next? Now that the lid has finally blown off our Pandora's box of decades (no, centuries) of gender injustice, the only thing that really matters is, What happens next? Will this moment of national reckoning lead to a forward turn on our evolutionary wheel, or will it be a mere passing blip on our cultural radar? Here are my top three forward steps:     

1) Millennials Will Lead. It is young women – millennials who thought the gender wars were behind us and are stunned at what older women have been tolerating – who are leading on this issue. 

Katie Couric tolerated Matt Lauer "pinching her on the butt" for years. Taylor Swift outed and sued the DJ who tried the same with her. Meryl Streep once called Harvey Weinstein “God” on Oscar night and claimed she didn’t know about his abuse of young actresses. Rose McGowan defied the Weinstein empire and publicly accused him of rape. The U.S. Congress established its own taxpayer-funded slush fund to handle these situations – and paid out $17 million over the last 20 years to cover them up. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and other women members of Congress led the demand for “zero tolerance” that toppled Senator Al Franken and Representative John Conyers.

2) Male Confusion is Unacceptable. This is not about flirting or extra-marital affairs.  The #METOO movement is about the pervasive male trespassing on women's bodies and psychological safety. Vice President Pence's solution of never having lunch or dinner with a woman without his wife is insulting to men who can control their sexual appetites.

3) Start With Our Kids. We must innoculate our girls to be prepared for the gender harassment virus they will inevitably face. They shouldn't be too shocked to protect themselves when it happens. And it's time to turn our attention to the gender norms our culture imposes on boys. We've spent decades teaching girls to be strong women. It's time to teach our boys the power of being sweet men.   

True leaders step up and lead at the right moment, which is nearly always long before it’s easy. We are at a moment in time when women’s evolutionary march toward equality is drawing us close to a critical mass of influence. We are finding the courage to raise our voices -- collectively. The non-apology apologies rain on deaf ears.  There is no turning back.

To my Sisters everywhere I plead, "Keep raising your voices." Begin by telling your stories to other women. Then share them with men who love you. Don’t wait for them to ask. Most don't know how. Or, perhaps they are afraid of what our answers will be. 

To my Brothers everywhere I ask, "Are you listening?"

The truth will set us free.  Have a peaceful holiday! Anne 

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