Friday, December 25, 2009

Wise Woman

Ellen Goodman made me blink this morning. She announced that she would be ending her tenure with the Boston Globe on January 1. I presume Ms. Goodman is retiring, although it is possible that the move is one of necessity, given the financial woes of the Globe since its purchase by the NY Times Corporation.

In any event, today's column is a perfect example of a subject she explored relentlessly over the forty years she has been a journalist: women and their place in society.

Today, half the law students and medical students are female. But only 15 of the Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs. We had the first serious woman candidate run for president . . . and lose. We had a mother of five, a governor, and a Title IX baby run for vice president . . . as a conservative.

The Equal Rights Amendment was defeated because people were scared into believing that women could end up in combat. Now nearly a quarter-million women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, 120 have died, 650 have been wounded. But still no ERA.

What a story this has been to cover. Women now hold the majority of jobs . . . because men have lost more of them. Women earn six out of 10 college degrees . . . yet earn 77 cents for every male dollar.

A woman is now speaker of the House, but there are only 73 women in that House and 17 in the Senate. At 60, Meryl Streep is playing a romantic lead, yet girdles have been resurrected as “body shapers’’ and girls are forced into ever-more narrow standards of beauty. Young women grow up believing they can be anything they want, just don’t call them by the F-word: feminist.

Heh, ain't that the truth, something I always associate with Ms. Goodman, even when that truth is almost unbearable in its implications. Her list of where we've gone and where we haven't quite reached isn't complete, but it will be a while before that journey is over. Just the past several weeks we've been delivered another dose of truth from our male congress critters on the federal funding for abortion issue. After forty years of struggle, of two steps forward, but always one step back, women are still being denied control over their own bodies.

While I am sad that Ms. Goodman won't be chronicling the that journey at the Globe after January 1, I am grateful for the work she has done for the past forty years.

Thank you, dear wise woman.

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