I had a wonderful opportunity this week to attend the Women's Media Awards-event organized by the Women's Media Center (WMC) founded by my close friend and mentor Robin Morgan, Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda. This is what their website has to say about the event: "The Women’s Media Awards recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to advancing women’s and girls’ visibility and power in media."
It wouldn't have occurred to me how important organizations like this are for women, until I saw the statistics, which are staggering. And there is a enormous array of statistics to choose from, that make the same point. Here is one: "We live in a racially and ethnically diverse nation that is 51% female, but the news media itself remains staggeringly limited to a single demographic. According to the Global Media Monitoring Project 2010, 24% of the people interviewed, heard, seen, or read about in mainstream broadcast and print news were female. Only 13% of stories focused specifically on women and 6% on issues of gender equality or inequality."
I didn't expect to be moved the way I was by the event. What affected me most was being in a room full of powerful women. When does that ever happen? Women are bred to be submissive, to please men, to be more concerned with the latest trends than, for example, who's going to lead this country for the next four years. Women are 51% of the electorate, which means we have some serious power in this world. But...we are bred not to seize it.
Like I said, it was inspiring to see a room full of strong women, most of whom had indeed harnessed their power. From Anne Hathaway, who hosted the event, to Barbara Walters, who gave out the lifetime-award to Pat Mitchell, to Laura and Lisa Ling, two hosts and journalists who've been through hell and back doing what they love...I was just drinking it all in, feeling a real sense of belonging among these people. I still have a ways to go to unlearn my programming, but being a part of events like this makes me as motivated as ever to go after my dreams and become who I want to be.