Saturday, June 29, 2013

A tale of two women

Two women have riveted my attention this week. One of course is Wendy Davis, State Senator from my home town. I think she was once my city council representative and know she was once our state rep. She won her Senate seat against great odds and a smug self-confidence on the part of her opponent.

In the Texas Legislature, she has successfully fought on behalf of the everyday people of Texas—particularly for education and for women. Ambitious? What politician isn’t? But I think she’s more dedicated to the people of Texas than most politicians we watch.

Her heroic filibuster the other night demonstrated how hard she will fight for what she believes, once again in the face of great odds. Her Republican opponents, bent on controlling women’s anatomy, were sure she’d fail. And they certainly tried to make it happen. To my mind, the help with the back brace may have been a violation of Texas’ ridiculously strict laws governing filibusters, but to call mention of a sonogram law as off-subject in a debate on abortion is patently political, and, I bet, wouldn’t hold up in a court of law.

Rick Perry took an undigified personal swipe at Wendy Davis in a speech to the National Right for Life Association, saying it’s too bad that she, a single mother at a young age, didn’t learn from her own lesson that every life is precious. (Note, please, that Davis, who fights for choice and health care, not abortion, chose to carry her child—as the mother of four adopted children, I am grateful to four young women who made that same choice.) What Wendy Davis learned was to make lemonade out of lemons—she put herself through school and then Harvard Law School. No small feat. Until this week, general wisdom was that she was known in Texas, particularly North Texas, but not outside the state. Suddenly she has catapulted onto the national and even international political stage. Tomorrow morning, she will appear on all three major networks talk show.

Go Wendy! And don’t the rest of you ever count her down and out.

The other woman on my mind is Paula Deen, who is down but not yet out. I’m not sure what started this flurry—did she publicly confess her racial slur? Did someone dig up some quotes? Whatever it was apparently happened about as long ago as Wendy Davis’ child out of wedlock. Thirty years ago, I don’t think any of us were as aware and politically correct as we are today.

I’m not a particular Deen fan, though I sometimes watched her show. Her recipes are enticing, but too rich in butter and cream for my diet, and the way she says “pee-can” riles me: everyone knows it’s puh-cahn with the emphasis on the second syllable (sorry I can’t give you the phonetic description). And she is way too cutsey, but give the woman credit. She too came from an unfortunate start—among other things, as she revealed in one of her books, she was at one time severely agoraphobic (I can identify) and overcame it. She’s built an amazing empire, but now that empire is crumbling beneath her feet—book and TV show contracts cancelled, endorsements dropped.

When Matt Lauer interviewed her last week, I thought I had never seen a woman who had aged so fast. She’s a broken woman. And Americans broke her with their sometimes pompous sense of right and wrong. If she used the “N” word and made some outrageous suggestions about black waiters, it was way in the past. Do we have to crush her completely now? Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. How many of us could honestly say or do that?

Two women with much in common—shaky starts in life, overcoming their backgrounds to reach great success. One’s star is rising; the other’s star has fallen to the ground. Both intrigue me. And I hold our hope for both of them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Judy, you may need to read the whole story on Paula Deen. It is not quite the simple "20 years ago" use of the offensiv word.