Its a rare occasion when I have to admit Im stumped (as anyone who knows me can attest). But when it comes to womens issues, thats often the quandary I find myself in.
Feminism has become a negative word, and even though the idea of women having equal opportunities, pay and access has become pretty universally accepted in this country, in practice its still not taking place more often than not.
Were all struggling to find role models and invent new gender norms at home and at work, as the recent hoopla over books such as Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Lean In demonstrate. But while the transition is difficult, and often stalled, I have high hopes for future generations of women.
Those hopes were both reinforced and challenged during the panoply of activities that have been offered thus far during Womens History Month. The month is sponsored by Alpine Bank and is a collaboration between the Womens Resource Center, the Department of Gender and Womens Studies at Fort Lewis College, Girl Scouts of Southwest Colorado, the Durango Discovery Museum and the La Plata County Chapter of the American Association of University Women. (I love it when great minds and organizations come together.)
On March 14, the Durango premiere of the documentary Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroines brought a lot of issues into the light in a fun, entertaining and thoughtful way. The film explores such female heroines as Wonder Woman, the Bionic Woman, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer and Xena, Warrior Princess, among other popular portrayals. But not too many others, because it turns out the mere concept of superheroines has been and continues to be quite disturbing for some folks.
Filmmaker Kelcey Edwards was in town for the screening and shared some of the insights that led to the four-year project. It started, she said, when she read in The New York Times that after 66 years, Wonder Woman comics were getting their first female author. Thats where it started, but by the time it ended, she and partner Kristy Guevara-Flanagan had interviewed everyone from sociologists, prominent feminists such as Gloria Steinem to little girls on the quest for a superheroine to call their own.
There were a lot of great quotes I was writing in the dark, so you can imagine what my notes look like and Im doubting the attributions I wrote are correct.
Rather than make a mistake, Im just going to share some of the memorable moments: My dad wanted me to go to beauty school, but now Im an engineer at NASA. Wonder Womans golden lasso that makes men tell the truth, thats the scariest weapon anyone ever faced. When youre little, you feel so powerless, you identify with someone even more powerful than grownups. Ninety percent of the violence in the world is against women. Girls need superheroes even more than boys do. And, Girls dont rule. We still dont make as much money, we dont even feel safe in our homes. Theres been a veneer of change without actual change underneath.
If youre sorry you missed it, Wonder Women is making its television début on the PBS show Independent Lens on April 24. I think its as important for men to watch it as it is for women.
On March 15, Edwards also was the keynote speaker at the Womens Resource Centers Extraordinary Woman Luncheon. Edwards, who said she was transformed into a contemporary feminist from the filming experience, spoke to a full house at the Henry Strater Theatre, along with a video presentation by the Extraordinary Woman herself, Enid Brodsky, who had to be in Washington D.C. for a family commitment.
Brodsky is the kind of woman I really respect. She walks the walk. For the more-than 20 years I have known her, she has worked to help women reach their true potential.
Professionally, she is a business consultant, working with her husband, Herb Brodsky, since 1979. They moved to Durango in 1987, and Brodsky immediately got involved. Serving on the WRC?board of directors from 1989-95, she was its president from 1993 to 1995. One of the founders of the Girls to Women, Women to Girls Conference, Brodsky is still actively involved in the event that helps middle school-aged girls make the transition to high school.
Its not just big events where Brodsky spends her time. Once a month, she holds office hours at the Womens Resource Center, where she meets with clients who need help with job searches, résumé writing, or starting or growing their own businesses. During the last two years alone, she has worked with more than 50 clients.
Im not sure when Brodsky has time to work, because she also has served on the Colorado Womens Foundation Board of Directors, the Womens Educational Advisory Council, the Tri-County Head Start Board of Directors, Regional Advisory Board with the Southwest Colorado Small Business Center and has volunteered countless hours with Durango School District 9-R to improve vocational and career education programs.
Oh, yeah, and she also volunteers with the Sexual Assault Services Organization and the Volunteers of America Southwest Safehouse. Whew!
Many congratulations, Enid, for a well-deserved honor.
And thanks go as always to Womens Resource Center staff members, including Executive Director Liz Mora, Director of Marketing and Fund Development Deborah Uroda, Programs Director Christy Schaerer, bookkeeper Judy Abercrombie, and two of the most dedicated volunteers in town, Barbara Shore and Sue Griffth, who each show up one day a week (yes, pretty much every week) to woman the office.
Womens History Month has a week to go. Still to come?
Womenade, where any woman can become a philanthropist, meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Rochester Hotel. Bring a dish to share and at least $25 to throw into the pot to be given as a one-time helping hand to a woman or family in our community. Previous donations have paid for car repairs, emergency dental work and one-time rent assistance.
Next weekend marks the annual performance of Eve Enslers The Vagina Monologues, an intimate and powerful look at womens lives, both the joys and the travails. Produced by the Feminist Voice, it features FLC students and community actors. Performances start at 7 p.m. Friday and March 30 at the Durango Arts Center. Tickets are $10 and are available in advance from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Student Union Building at FLC starting Monday.
And please, please, please, if you have an elementary school-aged girl in your life, take her to STEM-Power, a conference from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Durango Discovery Museum. Its free, and women who work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics will give the girls the chance to explore the possibilities in those fields, not to mention the hands-on science activities they can enjoy with museum staff members.
Kudos to all who have organized such a great and wide-ranging menu of activities.
Enjoying the first spring crocuses or croci for their birthdays are Dan Hopper, Mary Richards, Geri Mulligan, Kathie Bowers, Krystal Gunkelman, Janet Enge, Billie Gardner, Joseph Toledo, Mary Brown, Jim Robertson, Joan Brown, Glenn Rodey, Buff Rogers, Virginia Rohr, Shirley Drover, Mary Marugg, Dana Siekman, Joyce Watt, Jack Kloepfer, Grace Appleby, Lori Brouner, Matt Coleman, John Folk, John Ogier, Lisa Raymond, Lesli Slater, Marshal Starkebaum, Cyd Peterson and Mary Pye.
And to one of the great ladies of Durango, many happy returns of the day to Beverly Darmour.
Enjoying the first spring anniversaries are Bill and Pam Brown, John and Vi Kessell, Gordon and Diane Calfas Cheesewright, Tim and Dianne Williams, Ace and Mary Lou Hall and John and Denise Krispin.
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