Women Who Challenged Us

I thought of them as I listened to the SCOTUS hearings

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I watched some of the Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barret hearings in the last few days. A lot stood out to me, but one thing struck me and I wanted to draw about it yesterday during my daily live draw.

Republican Senators were keen to highlight the fact that Ms. Barrett is raising seven children. It is of course remarkable for anyone to raise seven kids, I have two children; it’s wonderful, but I know it’s a lot of work. However, it should not have anything to do with her qualification to be a Supreme Court Justice. If a male nominee had seven kids, would they bring that up? I doubt it.

It made me think about the women who, over the course of my lifetime, have forced our country think about how women are regarded, talked about and addressed in the public sphere. My drawing above is not inclusive, there are many women missing. But these women stand out to me; also, I included one not in my lifetime, but a key person.

They are, in order in the drawing above, and historically:

Soujourner Truth. Abolitionist and women’s rights advocate: Her speech “Ain’t I a woman?” , delivered in 1847, is an important one in the history of women’s search for equality. With her words, Truth forced people to think about whether or not a woman should be treated equalty to a man. Many even questioned whether she was a woman.

Shirley Chisolm. Congresswoman from NY, ran for president in 1972, the first black woman in Congress and the first black woman to run for President. She struggled with being accepted as a serious candidate, and became more of a symbol. A powerful legislator for seven terms in NY.

Geraldine Ferraro. Member of the House and Vice Presidential candidate in 1984 with Walter Mondale. During a debate with VP George Bush, she famously said to Bush that she did not appreciate being lectured, which he was doing. At one point he had said, “Let me help you.” Ferraro was a powerful compaigner and often overshadowed Mondale.

Hillary Clinton. Lawyer, First Lady, Senator, twice presidential candidate, women’s rights advocate. The history of the attacks towards Ms. Clinton are well know. Our country struggled with the idea of a potential woman president, and she was demonized starting with the way she took on the first lady responsibilities, which was to work within the administration.

Sarah Palin. Govenor of Alaska, Vice Presidential candidate in 2008 with John McCain. Her entry into the public eye as a VP pick sent shock waves through the media, questioning the idea that a conservative republican could be a feminist. This in part because she ran in the same race that Hillary Clinton ran in for President. Palin, a gun toting Alaskan, painted a very different picture of what a female politican could be.

Michelle Obama. Lawyer, First Lady women’s rights advocate. It is well known how Ms. Obama was misunderstood and her image misrepresented in the media. A strong black woman in the White House was a threat to many, and like Hillary, she couldn’t do anything right in many people’s eyes. She challenged our notion as to what a First Lady could be.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Lawyer, Supreme Court Justice, women’s right activist. Not the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsberg however was notable in how she repeatedly challenged our notions of womenhood, women’s rights and gender equality in her decisions and in statements.

Amy Coney Barrett. Lawyer, Judge. I won’t say much here because the jury is still out on what kind of mark she will make on the Supreme Court, assuming she will be confirmed. But as I mentioned, we are already discussing her role as a mother and a Christian in a very consevative sect of the Catholic church. An interesting article in the NY Times recently discussed her being a role model for Christian women, yet many women in that world are not allowed by their faith to work outside the home. They are designated by God to be mothers and wives. How did Ms. Barrett avoid that?

I have done many cartoons about women struggling with just wanting to be free of stereotypes, resrictions and biases. All this reminds me of a cartoon I did years ago when Marissa Mayer was picked to run a major corporation, and when the media found out she was pregnant, they went bonkers.

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Written by

Visual journalist/writer for New Yorker, New York Times, CBS News, CNN. TED, SXSW speaker. Looking to change world w humor. lizadonnelly.com

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