On Anne's Mind

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Not Since Billie Jean and Bobby

July 14, 2019

 

Where were you when Megan Rapinoe, captain of the USA Soccer team (let the men use the defining gender adjective), took one deep breath, moved her body to the right and kicked left, powering a penalty kick past Holland's brilliant goalkeeper to break a 0-0 deadlock in the championship game of the 2019 World Cup? 

Where were you a few minutes later when midfielder Rose Lavelle wove her way through multiple defenders to score a legendary, solo goal, putting her team up 2-0 and assuring USA Soccer its 4th World Cup? 

Did you get goosebumps, as I did, listening to the sold-out stadium crowd chanting not just "USA, USA", at the end, but "EQUAL PAY, EQUAL PAY!"

And where were you when pink-haired Rapinoe, captain of this brash, confident team that has strutted onto the world stage and earned a permanent place in our hearts, took the podium, following a ticker tape parade in New York's "Canyon of Champions," and challenged all of us to seize this euphoric national moment as an opportunity to come together and move our society forward? 

"We have to be better. We have to love more. Hate less. We've got to listen more and talk less," she told the cheering crowd. "There has been so much contention in these last few years. . . It is time to come together. This conversation is at the next step."

THE "CONVERSATION" she's talking about is much bigger than sports victories. Rapinoe, Lavelle, Alex Morgan and their teammates all understand very clearly the platform they have achieved and the responsibility they have embraced to use their voices and influence, not only to fight for equal pay, but to hold our culture's feet to a much bigger fire: GENDER EQUALITY. 

As Rapinoe put it, "Yes, we play sports.  Yes, we play soccer.  Yes, we are female athletes, but we are so much more than that. . . We have pink hair and purple hair. We have tattoos. Dreadlocks. We got white girls and black girls and everything in between! Straight girls and gay girls." 

NOT SINCE BILLIE JEAN KING SILENCED Bobby Riggs and his chauvinistic blatherings about male superiority with her 1973 tennis victory in the legendary "Battle of the Sexes, witnessed by millions, has there been a defining sports moment that has so stunningly toppled deeply-ingrained gender stereotypes and instantly changed the conversation about women's place in the world. We are in a new place. 

But there is a critical difference that sets the long-term impact of this 2019 World Cup moment apart from the accomplishment of Billie Jean King, who was also fighting for equal pay for women's tennis. BJK did it alone. She was a powerful and inspiring symbol of possibility for a generation of girls (me included). A solitary, super woman.   

But USA Soccer's achievement was a team victory. An example to the world of what powerful, talented focused women working collectively can accomplish. Black girls, white girls, straight girls, gay girls and everything in between! They are the affirmation, as USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan put it, of "...all the goodness that comes from raising another generation of strong, intelligent, fearless and successful women through sports." 

If you missed the games, you missed something very special. But you will not miss the cultural impact of what these leaders have done. Because they are as clear about the power of their voices and their right to use them to demand equality as they are about the power of their strong bodies and ability to defeat whatever obstacles are thrown at them. 

AND HERE'S THE BEST PART. USA Women's Soccer is merely a symbol of things to come. The tip of icebergs of new generations of women -- Millennials and Gen Z's and their daughters -- who will not settle for second class status. 

This Baby Boomer is thrilled to pass the leadership torch. But I have no intention of retiring from the fight. I will cover their flanks and have their backs as we collectively move forward toward our shared goal: Equality for all!

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!

Record Number of Women Running for Governor in U.S. 2018

January 3, 2018

Only 39 women have ever served as governor of a state in U.S. history -- one of them, the Honorable Jennifer Granholm, was governor of my home state of Michigan. Currently only SIX states have a woman serving as governor.  But that could change dramatically in 2018, according to the Center for American Women in Politics.  At least 79 women have either already thrown their hat in the ring or are seriously considering a gubenatorial run. We have a very strong candidate running for governor in Michigan -- Gretchen Whitmer, who was just profiled in the Washington Post. 

Here's more on why the U.S. may be poised for a giant gender leap forward in the 2018 elections. 

 

 

 

Bullying Boys and Bystander Enablers

October 13, 2017

 

Dear Global Friends/Thinkers,

 

Are you as shell-shocked as I am by the barrage of cultural and physical bullying dominating America's mindset?  The dysfunctional, nasty and even criminal behavior is so pervasive, with fresh examples coming so fast that I barely have time to soak in the implications of one before I'm stunned by the next. Las Vegas. Harvey Weinstein. Roger Ailes. "Don't you dare 'take a knee.'" Women's health is against my religion! Charlottesville. "Fire her!" I look at major news stories in a cultural context. Not as isolated events, but as connected threads and bellwethers of the society we are weaving. I'm distraught about the direction my country is heading. Bullying, backlash, fear and male power seem to be unchecked, while millions of bystanders lacking courage or moral fiber quietly enable the dysfunction. Where are our leaders?  

 

Here a few of my thoughts on current examples of America in cultural crisis. 

  

Harvey Weinstein Sexual Assault Scandal. Are you surprised? I'm not. Disgusted, yes. And furious that powerful men continue to prey on young women. Whether it's Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Clarence Thomas, John F. Kennedy or sexual trafficking, domestic violence and child marriage, this has been going on for centuries.  Do I think that this scandal is a sea change? I doubt it. Instead, I see the present reaction to the Weinstein, Ailes and Cosby sexual assault scandals as very similar to our behavior following mass shootings, such as the recent massacre in Las Vegas. Big stories grab the headlines and our national attention for a few weeks, at most. But nothing will change. We'll continue allowing citizens to stockpile weapons of war, and boards of directors will continue protecting sexual assaulters who are good for the bottom line. Not until dismayed Americans DEMAND change and stop looking the other way, ignoring the rumors, doubting the victims and accepting "boys will be boys/locker room behavior," will anything change, except for one predator finally getting caught.  Sadly, our iceberg of sexual assult and hostile work environments for women is as large as the national arsenal of American citizens. 

 

Take-A-Knee --  I see Colin Kaepernick as a leader. A patriot willing to risk his career to help our nation live up to our ideals of equality. Becoming the "more perfect union" our founding fathers and mothers imagined and fought for, doesn't just happen. It takes courageous leadership.  Not just in the beginning, but always.  Athletes, beginning with other NFL players and growing to include the WNBA, high school students and entertainers who have followed Kaepernick's lead to protest police violence that disproportionately affects African Americans are not disrespecting our flag or our troops. They are taking responsibility as active citizens. Challenging, perhaps shaming us to live up to our purported values. Disrespect for our "united nation" is not taking a knee during a song. It is flying a Confederate flag, insulting a United States senator who was a prisoner of war, groping female citizens at will, tempting World War III. 

 

Quarterback Cam Newton Insults Female Sports Reporter -- I was not the least bit surprised to hear Panther QB Cam Newton's insulting response to an excellent question from NFL beat reporter  Jourdan Rodrigue. "It's funny to hear a female talk about routes,” Newton said, chuckling. "It's funny." No it's not funny. But the good news is that none of the other male sportswriters in the room enjoyed his joke. They met his comment with stoney silence. Then, multiple male journalists around the country wrote commentaries criticizing Newton's neanderthal behavior. Dannon Yogurt dropped him as a product spokesman.  It's not just in the world of sports where females have endured unwelcoming (and much worse!) work environments. It is only when male colleagues get "in the game" with us as vocal, active allies that our culture will truly overcome sexual harassment, misogyny and both conscious and unconscious bias. Thank you guys! 

 

Suspension of ESPN Host Jemele Hill -- Because I was one of the first female TV sportsbroadcasters in this country and helped open sports locker rooms to female reporters (1978-1984), I want ESPN host Jemele Hill to succeed. That's why I initially thought she made a mistake in calling President Trump a "white supremacist" on Twitter.  A "personal twitter feed' for a public figure is an oxymoron. There is no such thing. I thought she crossed the line between sports commenting and political commenting. But she persisted in speaking up about national issues that concerned her. Now, ESPN has suspended her for two weeks.  Raising your voice during times of crisis when too many others are silent, takes courage. So, instead of criticizing Hill, I'm wondering why a sports commentator or NFL athletes should be held to different standards than our President -- who has called for the firing of both Hill and kneeling NFL players. Keep raising your voice, Jemele.  We need you -- not only covering sports, but speaking your truth as a woman of color refusing to be silent about racism.  

 

Bernie Sanders Opening Speaker for Women's March Conference --  I don't get this. If your slogan is, "It's Our Time to Lead," why would you not model your own motto? Of course men are essential allies in the fight for women's equality. When Susan B. Anthony opened the very first National Conference of American women in Seneca Falls, NY in 1948, Frederick Douglas and other men were with her. But Anthony and other suffragists led the convention. Bernie Sanders is one reason why the historic opportunity to elect the first woman president slipped away; perhaps for my lifetime. So, I won't be at the Women's Conference to hear him speak, although it is being held this month here in Detroit. Instead, I'll be in Houston at the World Leadership Conference of the International Women's Forum. And guess who we'll be inducting into the IWF Global Hall of Fame? Hillary Clinton, a leader who has done more to advance women and girls all over the world than Bernie Sanders has ever thought about.  

 

Battle of the Sexes. Finally, if you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor and go see Battle of the Sexes, starring Emma Stone as the legendary Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as self-described "male chauvanist" Bobby Riggs.  It's great! And take a few Millenials with you (my 24-year-old son, Kevin, loved it.) Hopefully, the movie will inspire them to pick up the torch of women's equality. Millenials are my greatest hope for once again hearing women Roar. 

 

Raise your Voice!  Anne 

A Severe Case of Testosterone Poisoning

March 22, 2017

"Where in the world is Anne Doyle?" "What happened to you?" "Why have you gone silent, Anne, when we need your voice more than ever?" Those are some of the email comments I've received from many of you lately. It's nice to be missed. 

There's a simple explanation for why you haven't heard from me for several months. I've been struggling to recover from a severe case of testosterone poisoning.

You may never have heard of this debilitating condition. But chances are you're infected, as well. Because the PH Power Balance (testosterone/acidic;estrogen/alkaline) in every nation on earth is perniciously distorted. And the USA is no exception. Testosterone levels in our public domain are off the charts, while our cultural estrogen is dangerously diminished. 

Like Kryptonite to Females. So what's the problem? For female human beings, I submit that repeated exposure to excessive levels of testosterone has the same impact that Kryptonite has on Superman in the DC comics universe. With every breath a girl or woman takes, her female powers are diminished by our toxic cultural air. 

Unlike Superman, however, we don't instantly notice the debilitating effects that excessive testosterone exposure has on us. After all, when everyone around you displays the same symptoms -- showing little more than polite anger over centuries of legal, economic and social servitude; continuing to raise the next generation of daughters and sons to unconsciously, passively accept our dysfunctional status quo; and being ever-so-careful to protect fragile male egos -- it's easy not to notice how distorted our culture has become. 

November 9th Overdose. It was in the wee hours of November 9th, 2016 that testosterone poisoning finally got the best of me. When it became clear to me (and to a stunned world!) that Americans had turned their backs on one of the most qualified humans ever to run for president of the United States and, instead, handed the controls of our national 747 over to a narcissistic, lying rookie without a pilot's license, I was physically sick. I had finally succumbed to the particularly virulent strain of raging male hormones that has infected our country and is metastacizing rapidly.

I slipped into a deep funk and, like Superman, needed to retreat to my "fortress of solitude" to regroup and regain my strength.

Of course I emerged, briefly, to participate in the Women's March in Washington, DC on Inauguration weekend. But even that experience was bittersweet. As I marched shoulder-to-shoulder with hundreds of of thousands of other outraged Americans, I couldn't help but wonder to myself, "Where were all of you in October when there was still time to prevent our testosterone-addicted nation from driving itself right off a cliff?" 

If you bristle at my use of the term "testosterone poisoning" to name the USA's greatest weakness, before you lash out at my resistance, I hope you will watch, Equal Means Equal -- the devastating and definitive documentary on the state of women in America. We are in free-fall.

And if you have a hard time recognizing situations and environments where testosterone has reached crisis levels, look no further than the recent performance on the global stage of our U.S. president who wouldn't deign to even glance at German Chancellor Angela Merkel, let alone shake her hand for the cameras. Our Testosterone-in-Chief is more comfortable groping women than acknowledging a female who is now widely regarded as the new leader of the Free World. 

PH Power Imbalance Impacts Both Genders. When I first started tracking the cultural impact of excessive testosterone levels, I thought it was only females who suffered the consequences, beginning with the loss of entitlement for themselves and other women to equal power with men to make decisions for the human family. It's my explanation for why 54% of white American women who voted in our recent presidential election chose a deeply flawed male over a highly-skilled member of their own tribe to lead our nation. But it doesn't explain why women of color -- 94% of African American women and 68% of Hispanic women -- made the opposite choice. Could it be that women of color are more resistant to the intoxicating power of white male testosterone than white females? 

The more I thought about all of this, the more I realized that males also suffer from the testosterone/estrogen power imbalance. Could it be a factor in the male bystander syndrome Harvard Business Review tackled this month? America's hormonal power imbalance, may explain why so many good men remain silent bystanders as other males behave outrageously toward women  -- from sexual harassment and gender bias in the workplace to gang rape, both physical and legislative. 

I suspect, regardless of gender, we're similar to frogs dropped into comfortable, warm water who never realize, until it's too late to jump for safety, that they are being cooked into lethargic paralysis. It's the cumulated effect over time that does us all in. 

An Old Soul To The Rescue. It was Tamara Kolton, a humanistic rabbi and dear friend who heard the wailing of my wounded spirit and retrieved me from my funk. She is much younger than I, but an old soul who understands the fire in my belly that has long fueled my quest for gender and human equality. 

"Anne, millions of people are in the same emotional funk you are these days," she told me. "But part of why your pain is so deep is because everything you believe in has been shattered. You've lost your work purpose. Your heart is broken." 

As she spoke those words, my heart sped up, my chest tightened and my eyes filled with tears. I was stunned at how emotionally I reacted. 

"You should write about your pain," Tamara told me. "It's a very personal story, but people can relate. You have a sense of history and the generations of courageous women who risked so much and worked so hard to get us to this point. Too many American women have no personal sense of the Sisterhood Struggle that brought us so close to an historic breakthrough." 

Tamara stirred my creative embers that have been stone cold for months. I've started writing again, working on a new book that is very different from the one I was writing before the world changed on November 8th. I do have a sense of where this book is headed, but a writing journey can take you in unexpected directions. As someone famous once put it, "I have to write to know what I think." I'll keep you posted. 

My Anguish Ripens to Rage. I was lucky enough to have parents who started immunizing me from early childhood, building up my ability to think authentically and function effectively even in work environments where testosterone was at toxic levels. Over the years, I've sustained myself with nature, horses, dogs, family, rejuvenating friendships and global travel. But I've never been immune to the impact. A lifetime of facing psychic insults, blatant pay and employment bias; never-ending vulnerability to sexual assault, and decades of taxation without representation have all taken their toll. And I'm one of the lucky, privileged females -- born white, American, middle-class and educated.

Now, decades down the road, as I observe the state of millions of the more vulnerable members of my female tribe, my anguish is ripening to rage!

If all I can be in my remaining years is a witness for our times and a spirit who refuses to go quietly into the night, so be it. In the meantime, the most powerful antidote I've found for repeated exposure to excessive testosterone levels is Sistering -- actively, visibly, supporting other living beings striving for human equality. 

Persist!  Anne 

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