Today is International Women’s Day, and like a lot of my friends have already said in their own related posts, it seems weird that we have to declare just one day out of the year for the better half of our society. But, in the good spirit that it was intended, I would like to celebrate all the women out there, and specifically all the women in my life who have made a positive impact.
It really helped that I grew up with the greatest parents you could possibly imagine. Both my dad and my mom were the best ever. Mom was a real groundbreaker and ass-kicker; she started fighting for women’s rights long before it was fashionable, and did so her entire life. She was the first from her family to ever get a college degree, then she went on to get her master’s degree and a PhD. From there she became a respected college professor and department head at the University of Missouri, where she taught. She wrote textbooks about international textile trade that are still used in classrooms today. When she passed away in early 2017, she had people lined up for a country mile to talk to myself and my sister Donya about what a great teacher, boss, friend, and mentor she had been. It seemed like everyone had something nice to say about her.
My mom wasn’t just a professional woman; she also held on to many feminine tenets that were eschewed by many of her 1970s “women’s lib” friends. She always said she found the greatest reward in life was being a mother, and after my sister and I moved away from Missouri to New York and Los Angeles, respectively, my mom continued to dote on her students’ children, and any little kids she could spend some time with. When my sister and I had kids, she became the best grandma you could imagine, as well.
She loved the world of fashion, and from an early age she learned how to make her own clothes from scratch (being 5 feet 11 in rural Virginia, where she grew up, she didn’t have a choice). Eventually she got to the point where she could make clothes for herself and our family that you couldn’t tell were not made by a professional seamstress or tailor.
All my life, I remember my mom being put together, on top of every detail, not a hair out of place, always looking like a professional. All while doing the things that her mother had taught her she should know how to do, including cooking, cleaning, sewing, ironing, and interior decorating. (I should point out that my dad also did a lot of cooking and cleaning, built one of the family houses we lived in, and restored antique airplanes in a barn behind the house—these two were ass-kickers in every sense of the word, and it was a lot to live up to. There were never any “male” or “female” role restrictions in our house, everybody chipped in, pretty unusual for those days.)
Most of all, my mom just really made me aware of what women were capable of. Unlike many of my caveman-like school chums, I always thought that women were lofty beings, deserving of much respect and admiration. I saw my mom take the head off of a few salesmen who thought they were going to take this woman for a fool, only to have them literally begging for mercy twenty minutes later. I saw my mom get up in front of big crowds of people and speak to them with confidence. She always taught me that a professional woman had to be “assertive, not aggressive.” She could literally move mountains. It was freaking impressive to watch.
As such, I have attempted to surround myself with capable, smart women most of my life, and today I am happy to be with my girl Sally Jo and my daughter Evelyn, both of whom my mom loved very much, and both of whom carry on the tradition of strong but feminine heroines that make me proud to know them.
I actually like being around women a lot more than men, in case you haven’t figured that out already. Sorry, guys, but most of the time, boys are D-U-M-B and they stink! In that spirit, I would like to celebrate the strong, beautiful and intelligent women in my life, and all the rest of the women out there. Happy International Women’s Day! How about we change It to “Every Other Day Shall Be Women’s Day?” I’d vote for that!!