Know Any Brave Women?March 2nd, 2013 © by Susan Swartz
When Gabby Giffords took on the NRA she challenged her former colleagues in Congress to do the same, saying, “Be bold. Be courageous.” Only Giffords and those closest to her know how much guts it take for someone whose body, speech and career were forever altered by a bullet to the brain to throw herself into the nasty debate on gun control and dare her old political pals to be brave like her.
We do not lack for examples of courageous women. And March is a good time to remember a few of them, it being National Women’s History Month and March 8 being International Women’s Day.
Writer philosopher phenomenal woman Maya Angelou holds that, “Courage is the most important of all the virtues. Because without courage,” she said, “you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”
I think of brave women as those who don’t just go along, who take the tougher route when the easy way is so well paved. And these days we need courageous women as much as we ever did, there still being a faction who prefer their women sit down and be quiet.
Here are some recent entries to my Be Brave file:
Eve Ensler – I want to give more kudos to Eve Ensler, the playwright and activist, not just for getting us up and dancing around the world on Valentine’s Day to protest gender violence. But because so much of her hard work has been done while she’s been dealing with stage four cervical cancer. In the middle of chemo and exhaustion and all the dread that goes with cancer she kept bravely fighting the bullies of the world.
Marie Colvin – Called the “uncrowned queen of intrepid journalists,” American reporter Colvin, who wrote for the Sunday Times in London, was killed a year ago while covering the conflict in Syria. Colvin wore a black eye patch, the result of a grenade injury in Sri Lanka, and often a string of pearls.
Her death and that of other journalists covering the Arab Spring uprisings have sparked an online campaign, A Day Without News, put together by journalists to educate the public on how reporters have become a target of war.
Then there are the topless women in Italy – To protest the notorious misogynist ways of Sylvio Berlesconi, a group of women took off their shirts and scrawled “basta”.. enough.. on their bare skin. The same group, called Femen bared their breasts in Kiev to protest the sex tourist trade, explaining that if they wave banners and march no one notices. But people always pay attention when a bunch of women rip off their tops.
There was some of that bra-shedding nostalgia in Makers, the three hour PBS special about women’s historic changes the last 50 years, a good reminder of what can be gained when women don’t lose their courage.
Back to today’s bold ones, there should be a special combat award for the military women who are finally calling rape on the officers who routinely sexually abused and humiliated them with impunity. The women’s courage in speaking up, at risk to their career and reputation, may finally force changes in a military justice system which will one day be read as a nasty part of history that took some fearless women to fix.