Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wisdom from the great Madeleine Albright + other memories from the Women's Conference.

Earlier this week I had the great pleasure of attending the Women's Conference. Now these things can go a few ways. You get 25,000 women together and you can have a large trade show floor full of knitting circles and estrogen pills and female finance tools (because, of course, we need our own finance tools--we are simply so inept, are we not?). Or you can get 2 days of intelligent conversations between thoughtful, smart people [who happen to be women].

The 2009 Women's Conference was a little bit of both. But I will skip talk about the expo hall--where I passed more booths selling scarves and handbags than I care to wax on about and sampled more energy bars than one should consume in a 24 hour period--and jump straight to the heart of the Conference, founded and hosted by Cali's First Lady, Maria Shriver: Madeleine Albright at the Luncheon Panel.

Madame Secretary--as the panel moderator, David Gregory, kept calling her--or Madeleine, as she insisted on being called--is perhaps the sharpest tool in the proverbial shed of females living today. And I was honored to hear the 72 year-old firecracker speak.

A couple of memorable quips from her lunchtime banter with co-panelists Valerie B. Jarrett (Senior Advisor to President Obama), Amy Holmes and Claire Shipman...

'I think every woman's middle name is guilt.'

'I think there's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other.'

'Women don't have to hate men to get ahead.'

And it is the last quote that stood out as especially poignant at a conference like this one. It is so unfortunately commonplace for women, when they get together to 'empower' themselves, to form coups against the so-called 'majority' of men. Well, ladies, the 'majority' is not such a majority--they're half the population. We're half the population. What our fate becomes, and the burden we may carry from prior years of oppression, is no longer the sole fault of the opposite [and less gentle] sex. Our fate is ours to define and it is not healthy nor helpful to define it in juxtaposition to those with differing genetalia.

I hope that soon we won't find it necessary to hold conferences dedicated to women's issues. Issues are issues and they're shared amongst all of us--those who happen to be pretty and thoughtful and sensitive and those who happen to be, well, men. [Insert smiley face here. I promise kid.]

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