Another day, and another list of ‘inspiring’ women compiled by a highly successful female.
These exercises in celebrating modern feminism are well meaning, but after reading them, you might feel a little bit inferior because you’re not spending your free time waving a placard or launching a helpline for the disadvantaged.
Have you got the right role models? Or are you just not on-message?
The Clintons (Hillary and Chelsea) have announced they are co-writing The Book of Gutsy Women, which will ‘honour’ 100 trail blazers, from classical scholar Mary Beard to climate activist Greta Thunberg.
The book (to be published in October) will celebrate the special women who ‘fought and won the kinds of victories that pave the way for progress for the rest of us’.
The Clintons (Hillary and Chelsea) have announced they are co-writing The Book of Gutsy Women, which will ‘honour’ 100 trail blazers, from classical scholar Mary Beard to climate activist Greta Thunberg
Chelsea Clinton was born into fame and privilege, reared in a home where politics and power took precedence.
Like her parents, she’s determined to put the world to rights, and has already written a picture book for children entitled She Persisted about 13 American women who brought about global change.
I’m sure this new project was born with all the best intentions, but does it add up to an end product worthy of the destruction of even more trees?
The book will be released on October 1. The book cover pictured above
Can there be a woman in the developed world who doesn’t know who are the most inspirational women in the planet already?
United Nations Commissioner for Refugees, human rights campaigner, academy award-winner and mother Angelina Jolie is on the cover of the latest Elle, and splashed over many pages inside modelling beautiful (but expensive) designer clothing, alongside an essay she has penned on the subject of witches.
Angelina wants women to be inspired to speak their minds and tells us- ‘had I lived in earlier times I could have been burnt at the stake many times over for simply being myself’.
Fighting talk! She wants us to emulate the tens of thousands of women who were burnt at the stake in Europe during the witch hunts or hanged by the Salem Trials in the USA.
These brave women were singled out for dressing differently, having independent sex lives, and refusing to conform to the social conventions of the day.
Angelina wants us to be more outspoken- even if we can’t afford the Hedi Slimane leather jacket and Burberry coat for our local protest marches.
The book will include features on about 100 women including 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (left) and 61-year-old American comedian Ellen DeGeneres (right)
The Clintons are casting their net wide in their trawl for trail-blazing women- contemporary choices include TV presenter and historian Mary Beard, picked for having ‘the wit to open doors that were once closed’.
And TV Presenter Ellen DeGeneres. Early feminists include 17th century poet and nun Juana Ines de la Cruz and the civil war surgeon Mary Edwards Walker, who was arrested and vilified for wearing trousers and is the only woman to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
Walker campaigned against the tyranny of conventional female clothing and said ‘it should not make the wearer a slave’.
I am sure that Mary Beard would like to be remembered for her brilliant, scholarly mind, not the fact she’s a woman.
And somehow I doubt the Clinton ladies will find room in their tome for a woman whose fortitude in surviving one of the great witch hunts of modern times has been an inspiration to many. Step forward Monica Lewinsky.
Meghan Markle chooses Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi, whose 2014 TED talk ‘we should all be feminists’, (later turned into a best selling book) obviously struck a chord
Meanwhile the latest issue of Vogue, edited by the Duchess of Sussex features her personal choice of 15 ‘inspiring’ females on the cover, many of whom turn out to be actors and models.
Meghan also includes Greta Thunberg (like the Clintons), boxer Ramla Ali, and Jacinda Arden, Prime Minister of New Zealand. Like the Clintons Meghan also chooses Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi, whose 2014 TED talk ‘we should all be feminists’, (later turned into a best selling book) obviously struck a chord.
All Meghan’s choices are remarkable, and must be congratulated, but are they really more special than thousands of ordinary women who raise a family and queue for a coffee every morning on a packed railway station?
Women who juggle zero hours contracts with children at schools which weren’t even their third choice. Women who don’t know where their kids hang out in the evenings, who live in fear their teenage son will be the next victim of knife crime.
Women whose pensions have been removed when the government arbitrarily decided to raise the eligible age?
Women made redundant in their forties and fifties, forced to claim job seeker’s allowance because they face subtle age discrimination in the workplace?
Interestingly, the best selling book in the USA last year was Michele Obama’s memoir Becoming, which has now sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
Newcomer: This week I met Sara Davies, the new judge on the BBC series Dragon’s Den which starts this weekend – a plain-speaking 35-year-old from the North East of England, who is worth £35 million from her highly successful business making supplies for craft workers
In it, Michele talks frankly about her struggle to adapt to life in the White House, her public health campaigns and the impact on her marriage when her husband became President.
Why did so many people connect with Michelle? Because her book is honest and from the heart, it’s not just about being ‘a woman’, it chronicles her doubts and shortcomings.
Hillary Clinton’s memoir about her failed 2016 Presidential campaign, What Happened, divided the critics, some of whom didn’t warm to the way she relentlessly blamed herself for what went wrong. It still sold over half a million copies in the US, but Hillary can’t compete with Michelle when it comes to charisma.
This week I met Sara Davies, the new judge on the BBC series Dragon’s Den which starts this weekend – a plain-speaking 35-year-old from the North East of England, who is worth £35 million from her highly successful business making supplies for craft workers.
Sara has two children and has known her husband for twenty years.
She’s inspirational, a can-do person, a woman who crosses the Atlantic once a week, who has stayed close to her roots and her family. She’s not on any trendy lists of female role models. Why? The answer, I suspect is that Sara Davies is just too ‘real’.
She probably doesn’t drink green tea or do hot yoga either.