This week I witnessed the inspiration of three women. No they were not politicians, blowhards, or activists; they were three women over 80 convinced (not hoping, or pining, or morosely wishing) that they are still young and looking forward to the rest of their lives. Hard to imagine, especially when Madison Avenue, pseudo 21st century Mad Men, and politicians, attempt to make us believe that senior citizens are decrepit and need to spend thousands of dollars on medication just to get through the rest of “as long as I shall live.”
This week, Barbara Walters moved on with her life after what seems to have been a thousand years on the popular morning “kibitz” show called The View. Actually, she was the only lady, (opinionated; yes, but still a lady) on the show that kept sensible conversation without the tirades and shrilly opinions of the rest of the cast. At 84, Barbara Walters crossed all barriers in journalism: interviewing icons like the Shah of Iran, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton (still fresh from Monica’s scent), George W. Bush (bruised by the Iraq debacle), and recently; Barack Obama. There are others of course. However, nothing came easy to her. She recalls the resentment from the “men” in her profession who for many years could not fathom that a woman could be a journalist let alone a famous interviewer. What was amazing about her own interview is her reply to the scathingly provocative question: Do you think there is a War on Women? She swiftly and without batting an eyelash relied unequivocally: NO. She went on to say that in today’s world anyone who works hard regardless of gender should be able to achieve whatever they want because opportunities were abundant. “Work hard” was extrapolated as the many sacrifices she made to get to where she is today. Wow! What a testimonial to those who continually want a handout and have a grievance for everything. I doubt that Barbara Walters was under any special privilege like affirmative action, or even the current inequality mantra that is blowing in the wind of discontent and wanton entitlement. This woman had to fight for everything she wanted and eventually got.
As far away from the excitement of main stream media, major networks, and cable, is a tiny town in Bavaria called Eschenbach. Eschenbach is nestled in the hills close to the U.S. Army’s largest training area outside the United States. This village in Bavaria, predominantly Catholic, holds an annual church fest. Today, amid torrents of rain, chilly temperatures, and dark skies; the village met under dripping tents to celebrate Mass and enjoy some good Bavarian food and music. Sitting down on long beer-hall tables half the village, drank beer, wine, and listened to the “oompha” band donned in Dirndl and Lederhosen. Across from me sat two white-haired gregarious ladies in flowing scarves and smiles that would not quit. What rain, what chills? These two ordered a bottle of wine and sat down to eat a hearty plate of Bavarian ham and “kartoffelsalat” with the gusto and appetite of an acned teenager. When we got down to the conversation, I found out that they were both 90 years old! Just as one of them was lamenting the fact that the pool she swims in for a few hours a week is only warmed up to 17 degrees centigrade, she greets another woman half her age with a smile and a hug, then turns to me to divulge the fact that the young one had been her volley ball partner! Say what? Is this for real? In my humble opinion these two women have always been empowered without any prompting from anyone let alone some young pathetic female activist whose life experience can be summarized in a tweet. I doubt that these two knew what a Planned Parenthood clinic looked like, and moreover, I doubt that they would have ever considered going to one even if one really existed when they were young. These two women took empowerment to another level, one without gloss, activism, empty rhetoric, and fluff! What I would give to be like them at 90! They were the real deal.
Currently the women issues being raised are as futile and empty as Cher’s Botox: smooth but all know that she is old! If women activists are sincerely looking out for women, they would start by respecting all women’s opinions and choices regardless of whether they are politically viable to their agenda. A woman has the right to be either pro-abortion or pro-choice without victimization and labeling. A woman should be able to stay home as a full time mom without some journalist debasing and ridiculing her choice as redundant because she has “never really held a job.” (A journalist remark about Mrs. Romney when she was helping her husband during his election campaign. Mrs. Romney raised five boys!) My 97 year-old mother had seven children and believe me, even Barbara Walters did not work as hard as my mother did. Her bent arthritic hands and fingers are testimonial to the cooking, cleaning, sewing, and nurturing she did. My mother did not go to power lunches, she cooked them. My mother did not have conference calls; her time on the phone was spent calling a doctor because one of us was sick. My mother did not go to Happy Hour with corporate heads; she was too busy making dinner so we may have a Happy Hour as a family. My mother did not carry a Mont Blanc briefcase to work; every day she carried bags full of groceries so we may have fresh produce, meats, and fish. My mother did not go to McDonalds to get a Happy Meal: she made the happy meals. My mother was always there when we woke up, left for school, and came back from school. My mother did not ask for free childcare, free lunches, or welfare. She did not have to because she empowered herself to sacrifice her own dreams to give us ours.
It pains and angers me to listen to pundits and pseudo intellectual activists use the word “war” as an attention grabber to their nebulous cause. War is the ultimate destruction of anything that is decent and good. War destroys, maims, and kills. War leaves families without family. War robs children of their childhood. War shatters dreams, hopes, and destinies. War is not a play on words to soothe egos or justify a warped agenda fraught with self righteousness. War is a bracelet that I wear bearing a soldier’s name on it. War killed that soldier in 2006; and his wife and mother will never experience life the same way ever again. War does not empower anyone; ask a soldier. Those misguided idealists whose lives are surrounded by other sheltered and spoiled elitists make light of the word “war” as a last resort to conveniently accommodate their feeble attempts at entitlement.
Three women over 80 have shown me the true meaning of tenacity, strength, fortitude, and truth. The truth is that as women we only stop ourselves from doing what we want to do. During World War II women took over factories and manufacturing. Where was Sandra Fluke then? Yes, we have had setbacks; and yes we have had to fight for the right to be heard, but now we are heard, so what’s the deal? Why are women still coming across as weepy heroines in despair? Why are these activists bent on diminishing us into a slobbering minority that requires activism? Why are they on one hand shrieking for women’s rights, but on the other hand malign women who do not agree with them? Why do they want to go in combat with their male counterparts but expect allowances for being women? Why do we speak of equality when in affect we demand special treatment? Why are we subjecting ourselves to a group of inane agenda-driven females who are compartmenting women back forty years into the past?
In the early 20th century, women suffragettes were incarcerated and some killed for daring to ask for the right to vote. These brave women were found on both sides of the Atlantic, and their courage paved the way to the opportunities we enjoy today. They did not demand a handout or an entitlement. They demanded that women be treated respectfully and given credit for their accomplishments. They wanted nothing for free. Are you listening Sandra Fluke? How their sacrifice and pain was somehow morphed in the insidious activism of today is beyond me. If today’s entertainment activists are so bent on making society responsible for the “war on women”; how about going to Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, or any other society that treats women like crap? Now that’s a thought. But of course they can’t…dah…they would be stoned or worse…killed! So instead, they thrash the last bastion of endless opportunities and possibilities for women; America and the American dream; where one can succeed regardless of gender. How sadly pathetic!