Some pieces are good reading. I recommend Gloria Steinem’s Why our Revolution Has Just Begun. Some others are more of the same. But in the middle of the fuzz, I will also contribute with my personal tribute to the women I recognize as my role models.
But when it comes to women, I do have my favorite girls that I think stand out among so many others. Some of them are real, some of them inhabit the world of fictional literature.
My list will always begin with Oriana. She’s the superstar in my Journalism sky. Her power was real, subtle and tangible, all at the same time. She was sneaky, clever and challenging. Her episode with Ayatollah Khomeini is famous: when she took away the chador in front of his eyes and confronted him about the Apartheid that Iranian women were forced to endure.
There something intriguing and attractive in her eyes, a concentration of strength and reflection I envy.
She was an awesome interviewer, the only one able to crack Henry Kissinger. She was begged by great personality to go to ask them questions and some others never agreed to sit down with her. Fidel Castro was one those will-never-happen-with-you characters, the same guy Barbara Walters interviewed more than once.
She was corky, passionate, with a great sense of style. She lived as intensely as she loved. She is one of my favorite writers. On top of that, she was loved by Henry Miller, among the best authors ever. Read his letters, there’s no modern affair able to reach such degree of paroxysm. If all of this wasn’t enough, she had such a cool name: Angela Anaïs Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmell. Finally, she’s of Cuban Heritage on her father’s side.
I love her because she wrote stuff like this: “You have a right to experiment with your life. You will make mistakes. And they are right too. No, I think there was too rigid a pattern. You came out of an education and are supposed to know your vocation. Your vocation is fixed, and maybe ten years later you find you are not a teacher anymore or you’re not a painter anymore. It may happen. It has happened. I mean Gauguin decided at a certain point he wasn’t a banker anymore; he was a painter. And so he walked away from banking. I think we have a right to change course. But society is the one that keeps demanding that we fit in and not disturb things. They would like you to fit in right away so that things work now.”
And stuff like this: “Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.”
And this: “I don’t really want to become normal, average, standard. I want merely to gain in strength, in the courage to live out my life more fully, enjoy more, experience more. I want to develop even more original and more unconventional traits.”
Catherine Earnshaw: Reading Wuthering Heights I found Cathy. She’s the first female character that I met who dared to love not the perfect blue prince, but a flawed man full of fears and hard feelings. She was selfish and generous. She was a complex female character written by a woman. She made mistakes that she later regretted. She pursued happiness, she betrayed her love. She even had the courage to demand a second chance and make it happen, even if it failed.
Indira Gandhi: There might be other influential female politicians, prime ministers and leaders, but the first time I heard about a woman that was ruling a country, her name was Indira, daughter of the Mahatma. I was a little girl and was so important to know that she existed some place in this world where she had made it possible.
There are others. Women like Veronica Franco, the Venetian prostitute who wrote poems and defeated the inquisition. Women worthy of admiration like Alice Walker and Anne Marie Slaughter. There are friends I look up because of the strength, talent and power they show. To all of them, keep rocking it and happy women’s day.