(A few of the many) Cool Congresswomen of the US of A

October: Crisp winds, crunching leaves, pumpkins, pumpkin lattes, Halloween, etc. It’s my favorite month, and it’s flying by, which means one thing: Election Day is almost upon us. I am secretly relieved to be in Massachusetts and not at home because if I was still at home right now I would be dealing with pre-election madness as a financial intern for my congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham. I’ve been told that working for a political campaign in the weeks leading up to Election Day is thrilling, but it sounds stressful.

In support of all of those working for campaigns right now, singing out the desperate mantra “GOTV!” (Get Out To Vote) I’m going to tell you a little bit about the history of US Congresswomen.

From the years of 1789 to 1916, the House was chock-full of men. Republican Jeannette Rankin of Montana was the first woman to shake it up a little when she was elected to congress in 1917. She grew up on a farm, got a BS in Biology from Montana State University, and was then a schoolteacher, seamstress, and furniture designer until she went to the New York School of Philanthropy to study social work. Fortunately, she didn’t like social work, so she went back to school at the University of Washington in Seattle where she became involved in the woman suffrage movement. Then, to pacify her feminist and pacifist ambitions she ran for Congress, aided by her brother, and became famous for voting against US participation in World War I. Rankin was the only person to vote on US participation in World War I and World War II (she said “no” to both) and was allegedly a lesbian. How’s that for our first congresswoman?

Since then, Only 199 other women have had positions in Congress. Some of my favorite female members of the current (113th) US Congress are as follows:

Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema (D) is the first openly bisexual person elected to Congress and is determined to end partisan gridlock in the congress and opposes the US-Israel alliance.

California’s Nancy Pelosi (D) of course has to be mentioned. As the highest-ranking female politician, and the only woman to have served as House Speaker, her popularity is well-earned.

California is also home to Barbara Jean Lee (D), the first woman to represent California’s 9th congressional district, first woman to represent California’s 13th district, and vocal pacifist. To top it off, she first went to college (at Mills College–Historically Women’s Colleges represent!) as a single mother with two children. Talk about strong women power!

Judy Chu (D), Representative of California’s 27th congressional district, was the first Chinese American woman elected ton Congress. She fights for women’s reproductive rights and in 2012 passed a much-needed resolution to apologize for the Chinese Exclusion Act (one of only four apologies issued by Congress to a group of people).

I love Colorado’s Diana DeGette (D) because she is Vice Chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, Co-chair of the Pro-Choice caucus (she gets an outstanding approval rating of 0% from the National Right to Life Committee). And in 2005, she cosponsored a bill to lift President Bush’s limits on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, which passed, and which then President had to veto the next day (his first veto).

Since my list is not even close to being complete yet, I’ll continue this list later. In the meantime, don’t forget to check out your own local political scene so that on November 4th you can get out to vote!

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Pop Culture Heroine: Mary Lambert

The actual goddess Mary Lambert in all her badass, powerful, empowering, and beautiful glory

So I don’t know if you heard, but Mary Lambert’s new album “Heart On My Sleeve” is out! Which means we should all celebrate.

The fact is, women shape the world in all kinds of ways. We tend to think of history-makers as the people who win wars but neglect to remember the people who win hearts. It is important to keep in mind that thoughts and emotions drive public opinion and shape the world in their own way.

Mary Lambert first found fame by singing the beautiful chorus in Macklemore’s song Same Love, and I automatically fell in love her then and there. Later, I found out that she is an incredible spoken word artist (and then, to top it off, she performed at my college and I got to take a picture with her and when I told her how excited I was to meet her, she replied with “I’m so excited to meet you!” in a really sweet and genuine way). Needless to say, I am a very big fan.

By the way, if you haven’t heard her song “Secrets,” you should go listen to it (or watch the music video) right now. And then you should listen to everything else she has ever created, because her words, like messages about loving yourself, are bits of wisdom that everyone needs to hear.

Nobel Peace Prize Winner: Malala Yousafzai

This year, one of the winners of the Nobel Peace Price is Kailash Satyarthi. Satyarthi, a 60-year-old man from Delhi, has saved over 80,000 children from child labor with his organization Bachpan Bachao Andolan.

Malala Yousafzai, the outspoken, 17-year-old Pakistani advocate for education, is the other winner.

I don’t know what you were doing when you were eleven years old, but it probably isn’t as amazing as what Malala Yousafzai was doing. When I was eleven, I was a pretty cool kid: I wrote poetry and read big books and played with animals and had friends and such. None of that, however, comes at all close to being as impressive as Yousafzai’s acts at that age.

For those of you who don’t know her story, Yousafzai started her journey as an advocate for children’s education when she was 11 years old and writing an anonymous blog for the BBC. As the Taliban took over and started to impose a ban on women’s education, Yousafzai bravely criticized the Taliban’s actions. Unfortunately, international recognition of her words made her a target. In 2012, the Taliban shot her in the head. Miraculously, she survived and, along with continuing her own education, has continued to fight for others’ education by starting the Malala Fund.

At 17, Malala Yousafzai is not only the youngest woman but also the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Her bravery and perseverance goes to show us all that you can profoundly change the world in big ways at any age.

Women in Power: Angela Merkel

Since I’m talking about women who have changed the world, I would be remiss in failing to mention Angela Merkel. Named the most powerful woman in the world by Forbes, Angela Merkel is the Chancellor of Germany and a woman of many “firsts.” She was Germany’s first female chancellor, for example, and probably the first woman to ever be called “Europe’s most powerful leader.”

Angela Merkel looking official and witty and wise

I, for one, happen to think she’s pretty cool.  I mean, her long run as chancellor while so many European countries are going through heads of state like they are tissues in cold season is impressive; you’ve got to admire her constant leadership. And since I have a thing for scientific women, I’ll also mention that Merkel has a doctorate in physics and wrote her thesis on reactions of hydrocarbons. How’s that for multi-talented? Apparently, she’s also one-quarter Polish and bakes a mean pastry. So she’s always one to watch: see how she “plays with the big boys” in world politics and it’ll be obvious to you that her mandatory skirt and heels don’t stop her from keeping up.

Don’t let her smile fool you: she has power and she uses it with style.

Modern Movers: Emma Watson

Remember how Emma Watson delivered that neat speech about feminism to the UN a few weeks ago? Because it was all over cyberspace. Seriously; it founds its way onto the non-women’s college part of my Facebook and I saw gifs of it on tumblr and everything. But in case you were hiding under a rock and didn’t know about it, or were just too lazy to watch, I’m here to tell you that you should. 

While the speech was good and brought up some great points — the anti-men stigma that feminism carries, how gender stereotypes negatively impact men as well as women — I am most glad for this speech because it came from Emma Watson’s mouth. I hate to be cynical, but I can’t help feeling like most people these days do not care about important issues unless they are neatly packaged and handed to the masses by a celebrity. I would thus like to thank Emma Watson for using her power and fame to speak very clearly about a topic that pertains to everyone.

Of course, not everyone loved the speech. I myself have a few complaints. The speech was advocating for men specifically to take up the feminist fight, which I think is important, but the fact that it was so focused on men (even the name of the campaign is “HeForShe”) worries me. Why not call for everyone to take action, including those women who are afraid to call themselves feminists? And why exclude trans people who, despite not identifying as men or women, are still affected by this issue as much as (and often more than) everyone else?

Still, it’s a good start.

Herstory and My Story: Emma Goldman

The demand for equal rights in every vocation of life is just and fair; but, after all, the most vital right is the right to love and be loved.

Emma Goldman

When I was a sophomore in high school, my US History teacher had a bushy white mustache and a bushel of stories about being a head fire-chief during the 9/11 attacks. Needless to say, he was a very patriotic man. I probably should have known, therefore, that writing my final paper on a Russian-born anarchist would not do me any favors. But I was young and passionate and had a rebellious streak not unlike Emma Goldman’s, so write that paper I did. I have no regrets.
Here’s the thing: Emma Goldman was so badass! She was, first and foremost, an anarchist who fought tirelessly for equality and fair treatment of people of all types. Born in 1869, her ideas were revolutionary for the time. She wrote and lectured about freedom of speech, atheism, militarism, gender politics, and even homosexuality (look at her quote above: that’s something an advocate for same-sex marriage might say today). She illegally distributed information about birth control, was arrested and even imprisoned, and the government regarded her as a very dangerous person (not just a dangerous woman) but a person dangerous enough that she had to be deported to Russia.
If you want a taste of what she was all about, check out this video of Goldman’s take on patriotism, as read by Grey’s Anatomy star (I love that show!) Sandra Oh:

Now, I could go on about how cool she was for days, but I hope I’ve piqued your interest enough that you’ll check out a few biographies. Now, if you excuse me, I’m going to go watch this documentary I’ve been dying to see for ages:

Welcome!

Hello and welcome to my blog!

For more in-depth information about what this blog is (an interesting account of how awesome women shape the world) and why it was created (technically, it’s an assignment for a college class, but it’s also my baby so feel free to love it anyway) visit my About page. Otherwise, feel free to read, enjoy, then go forth and put your own stamp on the world!