On Anne's Mind

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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. 

 

 

 

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. 

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 

The Anticipated Roar That Dissolved To A Whisper

November 15, 2016

November 15, 2016 -- Auburn Hills, Michigan USA 

Dear Global Friends/Thinkers: 

I have been in a state of shock, grief, horror and growing despair over our U.S. presidential election for the past week. Thank you to so many of you who have been in touch out of personal concern for  me, as well as over the implications for the entire global family of a Trump presidency. I've been trying to process my many, complex feelings.

I worked hard throughout this long, presidential campaign, hosting a Clinton campaign staffer in my home for months, helping to register voters and  knocking hundreds of doors.  I even dressed as a Suffragette for Halloween.

My first reaction was that of millions here in the United States and throughout the world: STUNNED SHOCK. Initially, it was nearly impossible for me to believe that American voters would put a rookie without a pilot's license at the controls of our national 747.  But they did. 

My shock was followed by GRIEF. I felt as if someone I loved deeply had died suddenly and unexpectedly. Instead of preparing myself for a possible loss, I was naively anticipating over-the-moon joy. Bearing bottles of champagne, close friends gathered with me to watch one of the most respected leaders in the world, a person who has been on the front lines of the global fight for the rights and empowerment of women and girls my entire life, help our nation take an historic and gigantic step forward for womankind and human rights. But that was not to be.

The day after the election, I received these beautiful flowers from a dear friend who was with me on election night. I burst into tears when I read the card with Helen Reddy's memorable words: "You can bend but never break me, for you'll only serve to make me more determined to achieve my final goal." 

The HORROR I feel began with the realization that my nation, which was founded with a system of checks and balances between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of federal government, will have no BALANCE for at least the next two years. The Republican Party, with its conservative agenda that has had controlling women's rights at the top of its agenda for decades, will now control the U.S. presidency, both Houses of Congress, and nominations for the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as federal judgeships.  My horror has only continued to grow as I have heard the names of people Donald Trump is choosing and considering for positions of power and influence in his Administration. Mike Pence, vice president. Steven, Bannon, chief strategistRudolf Giuliani. Chris Christie. Sarah Palin. Newt Gingrich, Betsy DeVos and Dr. Ben Carson (possible Cabinet appointments). 

But it is my DESPAIR that has cut the deepest, because it is about everything I have stood for, believed in and worked towards for my entire adult life. There are two pieces to my depair.

The first is about one of the fundamental lessons of this historic election. If Hillary Rodham Clinton had been elected, which she actually was by the POPULAR VOTE, the story heard 'round the world would have been: "USA Takes Gigantic Step Foward Toward Gender Equality, Electing First Female President." But that's not what happened.


So, notwithstanding all of the other forces at work in this historic election, the fact that voters backed away from what would have been an historic and gigantic step forward for women is still a huge part of the story, and carries a brutal lesson. 

As I told WJR radio when they called me on election night, "The choice of a vulgar and frighteningly unprepared man to become president over one of the most qualified leaders ever to run for president of the United States is a stunning metaphor and powerful evidence that it just doesn't matter how QUALIFIED a woman is for leadership. Women as well as men are still willing to settle for a mediocre, offensive male leader over a woman they "just don't like." My deepest pain over this election result is one that millions of women share. We've had to come face-to-face with the stunning realization that even "dancing backwards and in high heels" isn't enough. Regardless of a woman's superior education, experience, track record, accomplishments, brainpower and work ethic, credentials will NEVER BE ENOUGH. As comedian Joy Behar profoundly put it, "I've learned from this election that a man can get away with ANYTHING, and a woman can get away with NOTHING." 

The other part of my despair has been about SISTERHOOD. I've come to believe that Hillary Clinton's biggest mistake in this election has been my mistake for decades. The idea that female human beings share a sense of sisterhood solidarity with collective clout that can be leveraged to help lift girls and women throughout the world was a fundamental building block of Clinton's campaign. It has also been one of my core values. "Every woman for herself is a losing strategy," is one of my mantras. 

Is Sisterhood a myth? I'm struggling with that. Hillary won women's votes overall (54%), thanks to the support of African American (94%) and Hispanic (68%) women. But I cannot fathom how or why white women -- who chose Trump over Clinton (53% to 43%) --  could turn their backs on a stunningly accomplished female leader who has been on the front lines of championing their economic opportunities and legal rights for over forty years.

In the 2008 presidential election, 96% of African American voters supported Barack Obama. If women had supported Hillary Clinton in numbers anywhere close to that, she would have been elected by a landslide. I'm having to come to terms with the fact millions of "my American sisters" were willing to accept an abundance of t-shirts reading "Trump That Bitch," yard signs advocating "Hillary for Prison" and even video evidence of Donald Trump's fondness for "pussy grabbing," while walking away from an unprecedented opportunity to make HER-STORY with powerful, positive implications for half of the human race.

As the Atlantic magazine wrote, "what women should strive for, how they should be treated, and even what they should havwe the right to do, are far from uncontested ideas in American society." 

I'm working to regain my joy and put my shoulder back to the evolutinary wheel pushing uphill for the human rights arc of history, with the help of friends and my fantastic son, Kevin, who took me out to dinner and a Marvel movie (Dr. Strange - it's great!) to get me out of my funk!

What's next? I have a plane ticket to be in Washington, DC in January for what I thought would be an Inauguration for the history books. I'm still going, but it will be to raise my voice and walk shoulder-to-shoulder with my like-minded Sisters and Brothers as part of the "Million Women March" at the Lincoln Memorial on January 21, 2017.  That, too, will be one for the history books.  

My only hope is to live long enough to hear women's whispering rise to a mighty roar. 

Sleepless in Motown, Anne 

 

Hear Us Roar!

October 16, 2016

Months of hateful language against multiple minority groups, as well as the proliferation of anti-Hillary signs and t-shirts proclaiming: "Lock her up!" or "Trump that Bitch!", were bad enough. But it was the explosive release of video evidence of Donald Trump in sexual predator mode that opened a cultural Pandora's box of gender pain, denial and outrage in America.  

I have my own litany of deep emotional bruises and scars from male interactions I've tried to forget. I've yet to meet a woman who doesn't. So, how am I dealing with all of this? I've often found myself humming Helen Reddy's powerful 1971 anthem. 

"I am woman, hear me roar. In numbers too big to ignore. And I know too much to go back and pretend." 

Wise Women Words

I've been soothed in the last 10 days by four powerful women who have raised their voices in outrage and shared their wisdom on how to keep reaching toward the light. They've given me hope that this painful labor is giving birth to another leap foward in human evolution. Women are on the rise throughout the world. And there is no turning back. 

"Cause I've heard it all before. And I've been down there on the floor. No one's ever going to keep me down again." 


Michelle Obama: "Enough is Enough."
In a speech for the ages, America's most respected public figure gave voice to women and girls everywhere who are all-too-familiar with the fear and pain of gender disrespect, humiliation and violation. If you have not heard her words, please listen. They will go down in herstory as a defining moment and a call heard round the world for women and men who respect and love them to stand up and roar, enough is enough! 

"Oh yes, I am wise. But it's wisdom born of pain. Yes, I've paid the price, but look how much I've gained."


Gloria Steinem:
"Go Toward Freedom."
Just a few days ago, I was lucky enough to spend an evening with Gloria Steinem on the campus of Michigan State University. What did Gloria say about what feels like a culturally dangerous time in America? 

She responded with the metaphor of domestic violence, telling the audience: "The most dangerous time for victims in abusive relationships is when they try to escape. That's when they are most likely to be killed or suffer the worst beatings. It takes great courage for victims to make the leap toward freedom." Steinem told us she is not surprised by the stunning, gender-specific backlash against the first woman to seriously challenge the male monopoly on the most powerful leaadership position in the world. "We have arrived at a moment in history where the female half of the human race is reaching a tipping point of escaping from thousands of years of subjugation in culturally-abusive relationships. No wonder it feels so dangerous,"Steinem, now 82, told us. "Take care of each other and keep pushing for equality for all. It is our only path to freedom." 

 "You can bend but never break me. 'Cause it only serves to make me. More determined to achieve my final goal. And I come back even stronger. Not a novice any longer. 'Cause you've deepened the conviction in my soul." 

Phumzile Mlambo-Nqcuka & Kah Walla:  "Why Are American Women So Quiet?" My third source of inspiration comes from two courageous African leaders I was with at the recent World Leadership Conference of the International Women's Forum. Over 900 women from 40 nations gathered in Chicago.

Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN Women, was inducted into the IWF Hall of Fame at the conference. Kah Walla, a political leader from Cameroon who has been imprisoned multiple times for challenging and running for president against her nation's 32-year dictator president, was the closing keynote speaker. Both used their moments on stage to express their dismay and challenge American women to flex their collective clout.

"Why," Walla asked the stunned audience, "have American women been so quiet as one of the most respected leaders in the world -- who happens to be a woman -- has been repeatedly demeaned and insulted on the global stage?" 

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka put it this way: "Don't Americans realize that Hillary Clinton's election would not just be a breakthought for the U.S., it would be a world changer!" 

At moments like this, I ask myself, "What would Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Shirley Chisholm, Geraldine Ferraro and Coretta Scott King do if they were with us today? I have no doubt they would say, What are you waiting for? The moment is at hand. The world is watching and waiting." 

 "If I have to, I can do anything! I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman!" 

Let them hear you Roar!  

 

 

There But For The Grace of God Go We

November 22, 2015

I'm fully recovered from the horseback riding fall that landed me in the Emergency Room in late August. Thank you for all of your words of encouragement to "get back in the saddle!" My body recovered more quickly than my psyche from a good scare. But there is nothing better than following your bliss to help you overcome fear after failure.

So, as I write tonight, it is my Soul and Spirit that are aching, not my Muscles. 

Nearly eleven million desperate people -- half of the population of Syria -- fleeing killers, torturers and rapists; the cold-blooded attacks in Paris that stunned the world; 9 dead after a terrorist attack on a Mali hotel; a Russian plane brought down by a terrorist bomb. And let's not forget the 270 Nigerian school girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram nearly 600 days ago. 

I've had my fill of evidence that our human family is at a moment of global crisis.

As sickened as I am by the evil and growing violence that extremist thugs and butchers are wreaking in the name of Islam, I am even more sickened by the cowering of so-called leaders and moral citizens who are willing to look away from human suffering in THEM in order to protect US. 

EMPATHY is the ability to feel as if the suffering occuring to someone else is actually happening to you. That ability is essential if we are to find the courage to overcome our own fear and take action to help -- even in the face of danger. No one chooses to become a refugee. It is what you become when you run out of choices.

I ask myself, as I hope you are asking, "What would I be doing if my country and my neighborhood were suddently overtaken by evil butchers who were randomly bombing, torturing and raping? If the only way to save my son was to flee our home and my country with only the clothes on our backs, who would take us in? How desperate must parents be to take infants and small children in over-crowded, patched rafts across open sea?

There but for the Grace of God and the luck of the draw go we.

I get the fear. Terrorists and Islamaphobia are very real. But we must not turn away in fear. We must collectively face and fight evil and wrap our arms around its victims. The Syrian refugee crisis is just as real and just as inhuman as the slaughter of Parisians relaxing in a cafe or enjoying a concert. As we mourn the dead, we must not turn away from the living -- the millions of refugees, for whom help and hope these days are in short supply. 

If you are asking yourself, "What can I do?", I hope you will listen to this powerful interview with Queen Rania of Jordan, one of the most articulate, informed and respected voices in the Mideast on the Syrian crisis. Jordan's Queen knows of what she speaks. Her country is now hosting over 600,000 Syrian refugees -- 20% of Jordan's population! There are 140,000 Syrian children presently in Jordanian schools, and the country is spending close to 25% of its national budget to care for these desperate human beings who are as scared of ISIS as we are in the West. The only difference between them and us is that they have come face-to-face with the enemy. 

What can we do? Queen Rania is calling upon the world to do two three things: 

  • Join Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Germany and other countries in hosting settlements or families that have been vetted. Since 2011, the USA has accepted only 1,500 Syrian refugees, while 6,000 are arriving DAILY on the shores of Greece. The 10,000 that President Obama has proposed for 2016 is a drop in the world's refugee bucket. And all will go through nearly a year of  multiple screenings before they ever touch our shores.
  • Give money to agencies that are helping countries that are stepping up to this humanitarian crisis through the Syrian American Refugee Network (SARN) or UNHCR, explained in this Cate Blanchett appeal.
  • Find a political solution to the humanitarian crisis and the growing evil of ISIS, which the United States must help to lead. 

As I think through what my own response should be to the moral panic that is seeping into every corner of the world, I am reminded of the powerful African tribal mantra that I learned about during a recent trip to South Africa. UBUNTU. It means: I AM because YOU ARE.

As a global family we are stronger together. I'm ashamed to read that 31 U.S. Governors want to close their state borders to Syrian refugees. I'm dumbstruck when the powerful County Executive in my own community demands that plans for a housing development and community center for Syrian refugees be banned from wealthy Oakland County, Michigan.

Only cowards turn away in the face of evil. 

I am an American baby boomer, born just after World War II, so I have never experienced a war that felt this close. The world has gotten so much smaller in my lifetime. Communication connects us instantly. News, particularly horror, travels instantly and becomes part of the global conversation within minutes. The challenge we are facing is not a war of Muslims against Christians, of the West against the Mideast, or of refugees against those of us lucky enough not to have been faced with having to run for our lives. We are facing a new kind of war -- a World War of extremists against all moderate and moral human beings in every country in the world. 

True leaders do not turn away in apathy, nor run away in fear. They bring out the best in our collective selves, which is what we desperately need at this moment. 

 

 

 

Becoming a WONderful Woman is Just the Beginning

May 4, 2015

Forget about listing all of your credentials and accomplishments when you are being honored.  If you want to spice up an awards event, ask one of your siblings to introduce you -- and give them free hand to tell the audience the "back story" about how you became the person you are today.  I'm the big sister of seven children -- and my youngest brother, Vince, just did a great job introducing me.  To hear his intro and my comments, CLICK HERE. 

Dare to Raise Your Voice MORE in 2015

January 9, 2015

In the wake of the tragic shootings in Paris and the controversy in the USA over the movie, THE INTERVIEW, I've been thinking a lot about leaders and the importance of continuing to raise our voices, even in the face of push-back, disdain and threats.

Sometimes those threats can mean life or death, as in the case of the French journalists or Martin Luther King, Jr. and the thousands who marched with him in Selma, Alabama (the topic of a powerful, new film). Often, it can mean social ostracism and disdain as Susan B. Anthony and the American Suffragettes faced for decades as they fought for the right to vote. 

Or, it can be as subtle as well-intentioned, but insidious, career advice. I'll never forget the Ford executive who told me, "Anne, you've got to stop always seeing things through the eyes of a woman. People are getting really tired of it!" The "people" he was referring to, of course, were all men, many of whom would have preferred I always saw things their way, or at least stifled myself more often! 

My 2015 message is simply this: BE COURAGEOUS. Dare to continue raising your voice to make a positive difference. Everywhere we look, the human family is crying out for the mothers of the world -- women -- to step up and take an equal role in shaping the economic, cultural, educational, military and public policy decisions that impact all human possibility. 

I love the words of Admiral Michelle Howard, vice chief of U.S. Naval Operations, who is raising the Navy's game. She recently told a Washington, DC audience, "My definition of leadership is 'Not standing around and doing nothing while watching everything go to hell!'” Everywhere we look, things are going to hell. Pick your passion. Then put your shoulder to the wheel and let your voice be heard -- particularly if you are the lone voice who brings different perspective to decisions.

Leadership is rarely easy. I draw courage from watching or reading about others in action, such as the movies: Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay; Iron-Jawed Angels and Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon. Or, pick up, "Race Across Alaska," the fascinating book on Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the 1,000-mile Iditarod dog-sled race. Plus, right before our eyes, fabulous examples of powerful, brave and wise women are rising up and taking action. For example: 

  • United States Congress. We now have 100 women (out of 535) elected to the U.S. Senate (20) and House of Representatives (80). That's nowhere close to what it should be. Two of our newest Congresswomen, Brenda Lawrence and Debbie Dingell, are from Michigan and pesonal friends. Here's a fascinating articles on the women who led the way in the ultimate "boys club" and the sexism even U.S. Senators still contend with.
  • DC's Matriarchy - For the first time in history, the Mayor, Police Chief and School Chancellor of an American city are all women -- and two are women of color. It's time for the rest of America to catch up!
  • Women of Africa Rising -- Kah Walla, a courageous political leader I met years ago at a global conference, is running for president in Cameroon. Her TedTalk is a must-view primer on this critically important continent. 
  • Marissa Mayer and Silicon Sexism - 2014 brought fascinating revelations about the blatant sexism in Silicon Valley. In Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo! author Nicolas Carlson blames Mayer's Oscar de la Renta shoes !!!) instead of Silicon Valley culture for any sexism she faced. The recent review in NY Times magazine is worth your time.
  • Actress and activist Geena Davis continues to raise her voice on behalf of girls and women. She is partnering with Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods and Walmart to host a film festival promoting women and diversity in movies. 
  • Hillary Clinton -- Yes, of course she is running for president in 2016. And she will be elected. Let me know if you want to help!

The Instigators are Watching Us. We need to start innoculating and preparing our next generation of girls much younger to successfully navigate the toxic cultural waters they must wade through on their way to embracing all the possibilities of Womaninity. Over the holidays, a dear friend and fabulous "Innovator" entrepreneur invited me to get to know her beautiful daughter, part of the generation I call "the Instigators." This young Instigator show her Mom and me that even 8 months old isn't too young to start learning to "power up"! 

Remember: There's nothing to fear in this moment. And this moment is all there really is. 

We All Have the Power In Us To Change the Tide, says Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee

December 6, 2013

I have the greatest admiration for Liberian Peace Activist Leymah Gbowee, who is carved out of the same enduring and courageous cloth as Nelson Mandela. She received a long, standing ovation when she told the audience at the recent Texas Conference for Women, "The world is waiting to hear from someone in this room. Remember, the power of possibility is only possible if you decide,'I'm going to step out and do something.' It is possible for us to turn our upside down world upright…You have the power."

You could have heard a pin drop as she spoke.  Click here to see and listen to her powerful words.    

Leadership Test: Surviving Adversity With Dignity, Grace and Integrity

July 19, 2012

How about this for a women's leadership book topic -- Surviving Adversity With Dignity, Grace & Integrity. The first person I'd interview would be University of Virginia President Terry Sullivan who was just re-instated after faculty and students reacted with outrage over her ouster by the Board.

What a fiasco -- but what lessons learned President Sullivan could share.  Hope she writes her own book one day.  She's a brilliant and terrific leader -- and a tough Texan who cut her academic teeth in Texas before becoming Provost at the University of Michigan.  I met her during her years in Michigan and interviewed her for my book, POWERING UP!  

Here's more from the Boston Globe on the leadership fiasco perpetrated by the Board of the University of Virginia -- they now have egg all over their faces and Sullivan has been re-instated.  

Don't Say Vagina in Michigan and Don't Sit At Men-Only Tables

June 24, 2012

Gender Landmines have been exploding all around recently.  From women legislators being "muzzled" in Michigan to women executives being told they had to move from a "men-only" table in one of the most prestigious private business clubs in the USA.  

Believe me, I can't make this stuff up! If you're still wondering if the War on Women is a figment of our imagination, here's my perspective, which I wrote recently for Forbeswoman.com.


 

WARNING TO WOMEN:  Don't Say Vagina and Don't Sit at a Men-Only Table

 

I'm still flabbergasted over two astonishing, recent incidents -- one triggered by a Michigan legislator who dared to use the word "vagina" during a floor debate over proposed regulation of female bodies, and the other, which I personally witnessed, involving a dues-paying member of Philadelphia's Union League being ordered to move from a “men-only table" she and her guests had inadvertently chosen in an empty dining-room.

Throw in the fact that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is investigating the 100-year-old Girl Scouts and I have all the evidence I need that the "war on women" is not only real, it's gaining momentum.

Michigan’s Vagina Dialogue

Last week, Michigan’s House of Representatives was considering some of the most restrictive, anti-choice legislation in the country. During the floor debate, Rep. Lisa Brown (D) told her colleagues, "I'm flattered that you are all so interested in my vagina, but No means No!”[youtubevid id="BGS9vo1avVg"] Brown's mostly male colleagues apparently have no problem passing laws to regulate vaginas, but were outraged when she uttered the word in public.

Another Michigan legislator, Rep. Barb Byrum, (D) attempted to add an amendment to the bill requiring men to prove a medical emergency before being allowed a vasectomy.

Both female leaders were publicly scolded. And they next day they were muzzled. House Speaker Jase Bolger (R) refused to allow either  elected official  to speak -- on any topic.

The good news is that vaginas everywhere -- and men who support the "V's" right to make their own medical decisions -- are outraged.  Rochelle Riley of the Detroit Free Press called it an "Attack on Women -- and Democracy." Detroit News columnist Laura Berman objected to women only being allowed to speak  if they agree with men in power.

Then the Rachel Maddow Show called.  And playwright Eve Ensler is flying in Monday to lead eight female legislators in a performance of the Vagina Monologues on the steps of the Michigan Capitol. Suddenly the word that "shall not be named" on the floor of the Michigan House is going viral.

Can you imagine what Steven Colbert could do with this? It would be funny, if it weren’t so outrageously tragic.

Stepping On A Gender Landmine in Philadelphia's Union League.  

English:
Philadelphia's Union League English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The second disturbing example of the cultural headwinds that aspiring women still face occurred at Philadelphia's storied Union League, which considers itself one of the premier City Clubs in the country and, according to its website, a “diverse gathering place for the business and intellectual elite."

Like many such private clubs, the 160-year-old Union League was long known as one of the “hardest to crack old boys’ network" in the City of Brotherly Love. Today, not only can women apply for membership, the League boasts its first woman president.

All that’s great.  But imagine this scene.

Three high-powered women, two PhDs and an author (me!), each with decades of expertise in transformational leadership and work culture equity, spend the morning leading a discussion on women's leadership with some of Philadelphia's most influential women. One of the three, Dr. Ilene Wasserman, then invites her two, out-of-town guests to join her for lunch at the Union League, where she and her husband are new members.

When we arrived, the elegant Founders dining room was empty. We were invited to, "Sit anywhere you'd like."  We chose an isolated table by the window. Our drinks arrived and we began settling in for a relaxing lunch.

But then an atomic moment occurred. Two embarrased employees approached and apologetically informed us we would have to change tables. "This is the club table of the Groundhogs and Crickets and the president of the club is adamant that no women be allowed to sit at this table,” we were told. “You can choose any other table, but you must move."

At first, Dr. WassermanDr. Placida Gallegos and I thought it was a joke.  But when the employees informed us that they "feared they could be fired" if they did not get us to move, we realized we had inadvertently stumbled upon one of the League's leftover, gender landmines.

So researchers that we are, we probed, asking, “Is there any table in this dining room where African Americans can never sit?"  The employees were shocked by the question."Of course not."

"Are there any tables in this dining room where men can never sit?” Same answer. "No."

What Do Leaders Do? 

So what should leaders do, when confronted with blatant or insidious, gender bias? Other than being outraged, what strategic steps can we take to turn these confrontations into transformational moments that can lift everyone involved to a higher level of awareness and behavior?

While researching my book, POWERING UP!  How America's Women Achievers Become Leaders, I learned that transformational leaders don't stand on the sidelines when the going gets tough. They Raise Their Voices. They Break the Rules. They Claim Power. And they repeatedly Drink at Dangerous Waters.

American women are at a key moment in our evolution toward gender parity. Evidence is mounting that hard-fought gains achieved decades ago could slip away. Leaders pay attention to the forces at play around them -- and act.

What did Wasserman, Gallegos and I do? We decided to move – purely to protect the employees from possible consequences if we made a scene.  But we took two other steps to make sure the learning opportunity wasn’t lost on the Union League's leadership or its Members.

We alerted the news media.  And, after accepting the profuse apologies of the League's General Manager and President about what they insisted was "a terrible misunderstanding," we asked for a commitment that the Board would review all "written and unwritten policies, practices and traditions" that are contrary to the League's 21st Century, inclusive image.

What Are American Women Afraid Of?

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of hearing Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee speak at the Women in the World conference in NY.  Gbowee is the Liberian leader who rose from the ruins of a decade of horrifying civil war in her country to lead the women's revolution that finally stopped the bloodshed.

English: Nobel Peace laureate, Leymah Gbowee, ...
English: Nobel Peace laureate, Leymah Gbowee, speaks during a press conference at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA (US) on October 14, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She is a courageous survivor who has witnessed dead bodies in the streets being eaten by dogs, fought to save her children and herself from starvation and stood up to warlords who threatened to kill her. I  will never forget the moment when she looked out at the NY audience and asked, "Where are all the angry American women?  What are American women afraid of?"

Great questions, Sister Leymah.

What are we afraid of?  How many women elected officials will be silenced?  Women leaders marginalized and reminded of "their place" -- be it in private clubs or corporations?  Or organizations committed to empowering girls and women, such as the Girl Scouts and the Association of Women Religious, relentlessly harassed before American women wake up and realize our struggles for gender parity have just begun?

Are you an Achiever who is content to squat on the shoulders of those who fought hard for the banquet of opportunities too many American women now take for granted? Or, are you a Leader who understands that our daughters and granddaughters are counting on us to show them the way forward and to continue to push the edges of possibility for the human family?

Next time you are faced with an opportunity to confront gender bias, Ask yourself, "What would Leymah do?"

 

 

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Tells Women, "It is Time to Stop Being Politely Angry."

March 12, 2012

When Liberian leader Leymah Gbowee, winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, speaks people listen.  And wait till you hear the challenge she issued to the women gathered at the 2012 Women in the World Summit last week in New York.  

I was there for every riveting moment.  Here's the column I just wrote about the event for Forbeswoman.  

2012 Women in the World Summit Filled With Riveting Moments

March 11, 2012

The third annual Women in the World Summit, hosted by Newsweek magazine and The Daily Beast, attracted several thousand activists, organizers, politicians and leaders and thinkers from more than a dozen countries to New York City for 2 1/2 riveting days of interviews, discussions and stories., March 8-10th.  

From the opening evening, highlighted by a conversation with IMF head Christine Lagard, to the closing moments with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the summit was packed with courageous conversations about some of the toughest global issues facing women all over the world -- including human trafficking starvation, rape as a tool of war, genital cutting, sexual attacks on women in the U.S. military and women's continued exclusion from the highest levels of politics, business and civil society.

I was privileged to be there and to engage with incredible women such as the two in this photograph -- Kah Walla, who ran for president in Cameroon last fall, and Bibi Hokmina, a member of an Afghanistan Provincial Council who has been dressing as a male since childhood. 

Think of a powerful female leader working to change the status quo for women and girls in the world and she was there. Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee from Liberia; Molly Melching, the U.S.-born founder of the Tostan organization, who has lived in Senegal for more nearly 40 years, working to stop female genital mutilation; Madeleine Albright, Kosovo president Atifete Jahjaga,  American actvists Gloria Steinem, Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey.  And some of the brightest lights among the young women -- some still in their teens -- who are already stepping up with new solutions to complex problems.  

It is all online -- whether you only have time to browse the highlights or can give yourself the gift of listening to it all, don't miss sampling this rich brew.  It will challenge you to ACT!  Click here to listen.  

 

 

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Is This A Hillary Moment?

November 22, 2011

With our presidential election less than one year away and our nation dismayed with the leadership deadlock in Washington, D.C. the drumbeat is growing for a Hillary Clinton presidency.  I don't expect it to happen, but when the Wall Street Journal publishes a major Op Ed advocating her election, you know we've come a long way toward being ready to elect our first woman president.  Click here for the WSJ commentary.

Michelle Obama Steps Up to New Role: Energizer in Chief

November 19, 2011

Great to see Michelle Obama stepping up again after three years keeping a low profile. White House strategist David Alelrod told the New York Times, "Her mission is to energize folks and give them encouragement to go out and do the work." Now that's leadership! And a skill that tends to be a natural strength of women. Power On, Michelle!  Great piece in today's NY Times.

Herman Cain's Gender "Miss-Understandings" More Serious Than He Imagined

November 7, 2011

Does the latest "sex, lies and politics" mess remind you of the all-too-similar, Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill  scandal that rocked our national consciousness 20 years ago? It does me. But Americans take workplace sexual harassment a lot more serious today than we did in 1991, thanks, in part to the courage of a 35-year-old lawyer to speak truth to power. What does Anita Hill think of the Cain conundrum?

 I had a chance to hear Hill's thoughts on the Cain conundrum during her recent visit to Detroit. Here's my column on the topic for Forbeswoman.

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