The news has been slathered with two great women who have recently passed on. Elizabeth Taylor whose beautiful eyes and sassy acting made her a name world wide, and Geraldine Ferraro, who was Americas first woman who had enough courage to run for vice president, and this got me thinking…
Women have always sort of had to take the back seat next to men in politics, work, and even in music. Well that was until Australian born Helen Reddy came along with her hit I am Woman. I can’t say men adored her. In fact, in the 70s, when women were trying to let men know that they too were humans and had rights, men accused her of being angry and bitter. Men were so frightened of women walking in their own power some even called the woman’s movement a “small band of bra-less bubbleheads.” Way to go guys…
Well don’t mess with Helen Reddy, a vaudeville performer when she was four. She managed to beat the male stereotype of woman and beat the odds and become a woman’s musical icon in the 70′s. I Am Woman, took to the chart and stayed on the charts and made her not only a Grammy winning artist, but a figure for women all over the world, even to this day.
Often referred to as the Housewife of Rock and Roll, Reddy put out songs such as Peaceful, Delta Dawn, Angie Baby, Keep On Singin’, and Ruby Red Dress. Her successes were so big that in the early 70s, Reddy had her own show called the Helen Reddy Show. She then became one of the hosts for The Midnight Special.
As a kid of about twelve or thirteen, I recall seeing Reddy everywhere. She was on talk shows, TV shows, and movies. She once came to Tucson where I had the opportunity to see her at the age of fourteen. Of course, there were not a lot of people my age, she definitely appealed to the housewife crowd, but I personally liked her and appreciated her desire to move women forward.
I am Woman was about women’s personal empowerment. While many of the hits on the charts were referring to women as being in love, or loving her man, or losing her man or wanting her man, Reddy wrote a song about female identity and it made no reference to men rather the lyrics were about strength. It referenced women being strong, with her powerful course of;
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman
When I think of Elizabeth Taylor or Geraldine Ferraro I do see the strength in these women. Yes many of the readers here are younger and might not have had an opportunity to see Elizabeth Taylor when she was beautiful, bold and strong. She took no guff from men. Perhaps that is why she was married 8 times. She played the role of Cleopatra and pulled it off without a hitch. She was indeed strong and invincible as a woman.
Geraldine Ferraro was elected for the U.S congressional seat in Queens and served three terms in the House of Representatives. Not bad for a woman in those days. In fact she organized the efforts to achieve passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and she was able to watch job opportunities for displaced homemakers flourish and enabled homemakers to open IRAs. With that, she was chosen as Walter Mondale’s vice presidential running mate in 1984 on the Democratic Party. No other woman before her had even tried to do this.
So today my hat is off to Elizabeth Taylor and Geraldine Ferraro for all their wonderful contributions and showing how strong women can truly be. In addition, my hat is off to Helen Reddy for creating an anthem for women that to this day continues to echo out.