I realized that this year, I also needed to invest some time in the positive.
It’s been a rough year for me personally, one in which I learned as much about myself, as I did about the world around me and the people close to me. I was surprised (and proud) of the first. The last two? Not so much in some corners, but way pleased in others.
This year, rather than emulate whatever happened to be around me, I decided to learn from those I admired. I drop-kicked the “but they’re Them, way over there, who am I to emulate them mentality” and decided to learn from my heroes.
Not all these people are from 2015. Some are from 2014. But hey, you don’t tell the Police of the Annual Lists and I won’t either. It will be our dirty little secret.
10. Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Her take on the Hobby Lobby case was enough for me. But as I googled her – mostly for jpegs, I confess – I learned about her, and was amazed. The Time.com photo alone gets her into my menagerie for fishnet gloves.
See also the New York Times online article.
9. The Writers and Producers of The Walking Dead.
No, I will not subject my readers to more fangasms in the off-season. I’m correcting a mistake, really. I should have written about this years ago, and I didn’t. Scott, Gale, Robert and Greg, forgive me.
Hollywood women cry out for better roles for women, and grown-up women. According to Hollywood, nothing interesting happens to you after thirty. Interesting things only happen to your husband or kids. The Guardian cites recognition that television does a better job than film. Then there are the calls for better roles, more interesting roles, for women over … say … twenty-five.
TWD falls into that category for better roles for women, and takes it up a notch. (Battlestar Gallactica demands inclusion here, too.)
Carol Pelletier starts out in the series as a mousy middle-aged, battered wife and mother. That’s where she starts. Baby, that’s not where she ends. (Check out this yourtango.com article). The character has now earned a following in the fan universe that roots for her leadership.
The writers have given her independent storylines in which she has engaged in heroism, villainism, violence, strategy, compassion and stealth. Her arc and these episodes devoted to her have employed all the elements normally given to men.
While I am in the camp that needs the writers to fess up and have her and Daryl get at “it” already, I appreciate that they have not diluted her character by putting her in the “romantic interest” position.
Other phenomenal characters: Maggie, a southern woman who is not a “belle,” but a tribute to the southern women in my own family tree. (Kudos to Lauren Cohan for getting the accent right.) Michonne, a fierce woman of color who is not diluted as “girlfriend,” and who is smart, sexy and strong. Rosita, a Latina character that does not take a side in some false dichotomy of sexy OR smart. Deanna: a great character of age. Most typical producers or writers would have cast a thirty-something. Tara Chambler, a lesbian that is not presented in stereotypical terms of “butch” or “femmy.”
So, the feminism of TWD is on the list.
8. Dolce & Gabbana.
Yeah, like I can afford that stuff.
I tweeted a few weeks ago about their decision to form a line of fashions for Muslim women. Cynics can argue that this was a crass economic decision. I’m sure it was motivated by growing market share and an opportunity to enter into a new sphere. But the clear economic advantage of creating goods for a group has not always won the day. Think Plus-size fashions that aren’t black mumus.
So, someone was thinking inclusion, respect, and perhaps, in this age of rampant reactionary racism against arabs and anti-Muslim sentiment, fueled by a mangy old man with too much money and not enough brains …
Oops, I strayed into the Zombie Bait List again. My bad.
What was I saying? Oh, in this ideological climate, the decision to create this collection is itself an ideological statement, make no mistake.
Yep. Your garden variety Muslim, your faithful, obedient, disciplined follower of Islam made the list. Why? Because right now the whole world is dumping a whole ton of undeserved bullshit their way, and Muslims are no more to blame for ISIL or Al Qaeda than Christians are to blame for the Branch Davidians.
I see Muslim women in the store, the mall, the gas station and I want to say “I am so sorry for some of the jackasses running around who claim to be members of my faith/color/class. Please forgive us.”
I want to talk about how much I admire the courage, commitment and discipline it takes to wear a hijab or an abaya. I want to talk about how little I know about their faith, but what little I know tells me that their faith demands far more daily discipline and commitment than I put into mine.
And they do all this while they are reviled by a political candidate, misunderstood by the media, and as I have seen with my own eyes, feared by their communities.
Instead, I just say “hello,” or “nice day,” hoping that somehow they’ll know everything else is tucked away surreptitiously into that little salutation.
These people get up the next morning, put one foot in front of the other and do what they gotta do and keep their faith – publicly.
That alone makes you a badass.
6. Pope Francis.
It rankles the hell out of my devout in-laws when I call their Pope “Frankie.”
I love this guy. Truly, I love this guy. I believe he is the one who will put Christ’s message back into Christian religion. I love his take on poverty, I love that he chose not to live like a King as Pope (not living in the Papal Apartments), but like a servant of Christ. I love his courage to defy old ideaologies and be a real LEADER of the people into the message of love and justice. I love his love for people.
And I firmly believe that behind the scenes, sure as God made little green apples, some of the old Establishment in the Church is not too happy about him. Others probably blocked him.
I would make this man my famous tortilla soup. I don’t even do that for my husband (and I do hear about it).
I’m just gonna say it with jpegs.
5. Hillary Clinton
Okay, who among my reader(s) is surprised here?
The surprise is that she’s not on the list for her politics, but for her effect on me as a role model.
No matter what anyone has thrown at this woman, and Trump has managed to create some pretty big balls of shit to throw her way, she has remained poised, calm, deliberate and focused. While everyone in the GOP is snarling and biting with rhetoric (not just Trump, but Christie, too).
Where the rest of the players have confused bravado with confidence, Clinton has displayed the true confidence of being level-headed in the shit-storm – something I had to learn the hard way to do.
When asked in one news interview about Trump, she laughed light-heartedly. When that bonehead moderator started the debates before she’d returned (clearly from the bathroom), she made a little joke. She never get flustered. She never crumbles.
I’ve learned from her: how to handle my opponents, that if I’m doing the right thing I will have opponents, not to believe the B.S./P.R. my opponents throw around about me. I’ve learned that being tough means being calm, going to the back room, pulling your team together, and planning your next move.
I’ve learned that being smart and being tough are nothing to be ashamed of.
I think she has superpowers. I think the real scandal will be when we all find out she was in a scientific accident as a child and it gave her super psychological strength, because when it comes to composure, she’s Wonder Woman, SuperGirl and Carol Pelletier all wrapped into one.
Day-um. I wanna be like that when I grow up.
4. German Chancellor Angela Merkel
All it took was one thing. Even though I knew vaguely of her involvement in the Greek financial crisis, this woman was on my periphery until just one thing got her on this list.
Even after she was Time’s 2015 Person of the Year.
One thing caught my attention.
She welcomed the refugees. Merkel is quoted in the New York Times:
I am convinced that, handled properly, today’s great task, presented by the influx and the integration of so many people, is an opportunity for tomorrow
Merkel’s generosity has been so immense, that, according to Roger Cohen:
The United States would have had to admit about 4 million refugees this year to take in a similar proportion of its population. It has fallen more than 3.9 million short of that mark.
3. Malala Yousafzai
She is the young girl in Pakistan who spoke up about education for girls.
So the Taliban shot her. In the face. On her school bus.
What did she do?
She spoke up again. Louder. Fiercer. At the UN.
Speaking up is hard when you’ve been punished for pursuing what you have a right to, be it education or motherhood. You get punished.
A thousand experts will tell you not to speak up, as I’m sure many did with Malala. Friends and family will run when the fit hits the shan. In her case, I’d completely understand: for God’s sakes, she’d been shot. In the head. But it seems her family stood by her.
And stood she did. She didn’t back down. She never will. Check out her story in-depth at BBC online.
2. President Barack Obama.
Gun Control. He manned up. He has taken on all this bullshit about gun control. I hope he uses that executive order and milks it for all it’s worth on this one.
Sometimes, you have to govern for the best interests of the many, not just the wishes of the many.
In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, President Obama addressed opponents’ fear that they will have to register their firearms. As an aside, are these the same people clapping and cheering when Trump wants to register Muslims? Just a thought.
I suspect the NRA is fueling all these ridiculous, absurd, emotionally-driven fears about gun control.
Do you want some kid to drive a car down the road without being tested and cleared as being safe to do so? No.
So let’s make sure that whoever owns a gun is cleared as being safe to do so, and keep the guns out of people who would pull the trigger for evil purposes. It’s called a background check.
One question to opponents: are you worried you won’t pass?
All of France. The whole country.
This year, France taught us what a true badass is. They suffered horrendous terrorist attacks, and what was their immediate response?
Politicize the tragedy into a ridiculous argument about the second amendment?
Seize the moment as an opportunity to transform latent rage and fear into racism?
First, they responded appropriately and definitively. They let the terrorists know they were strong, they were not to be trifled with. Their responsive attack was swift, certain and clear. It was necessary to send a message on behalf of all targets of violence over this globe.
Sometimes, there just have to be consequences.
Then, they opened their hearts and their homes to the displaced.
French online planned interfaith gatherings, in the face of a ban on gatherings. From the Huffington Post:
By Sunday, 3,000 people had pledged to attend a multi-faith “Rally with Muslims of France for Peace and National Unity,” scheduled for the end of the week near Paris’ Grand Mosque. Another 6,000 said they were interested in going.
I swear I read that there was an online effort to open homes and hearths to people who were stranded in Paris because of the attacks.
Mercy and Strength all in the face of random, brutal attacks.
France taught us everything.