Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Nominations please! Uppity women...

HALLIE EPHRON: TIME OUT for an update from yesterday: This is from Darlene Ryan, her "own little Matt Lauer because I don't think I'm going to meet the real one who is my not-so-secret crush." Is this adorable or what??

Moving on...

Vicki Leon is just out with a new book in her Uppity Women series. This one: "4000 Years of Uppity Women." It starts in ancient times, telling anecdotes about women who "rocked as many cradles as the other gals, but they've rocked a lot of boats as well."

Besides well known Cleopatra and Jezebel, she spotlights Korinna (Greece, 500 BC) who beat a man five times in a poetry competition; Margery Russell (England, 1300) who ran her late husband's import export business and stood up to Spanish pirates; and Queen Aahotep of ancient Egypt, so renowned for her battle skills she was buried with a ceremonial battle ax.

It's a feathery fun read, and it got me thinking about my favorite women, famous and not so famous, who excel in uppityness -- present company excluded, of course.

For sheer chutzpah and nerve, I'd nominate my dear friend Barbara for the way she fearlessly marches into stores and returns purchases. Did you know that at one time, Sears tools and GAP clothing could be returned at ANY point if they wore out?

I'd nominate my mother--when she started to write with my father (they co-authored plays and movies) she insisted that her name come first.

Looking at today's famous women, for sheer uppityness and boat rocking, here's ten whom I'd nominate for the Contemporary Uppity Women's Hall of Fame:

Hilary Clinton
Sarah Palin
Lady Gaga
Maya Lin
Kiki Smith
Patti Smith
Dr. Susan Love
Bette Midler
Cindy Sherman
Kara Walker (her art to the left)

Nominations, anyone? Famous and not...

JAN BROGAN: Well, you forgot Madonna - can there be a more uppity woman? And I always loved the idea that Golda Meir kicked butt against Arab countries that liked to keep their women subservient.

And more recently -- the Daughters of St. Paul, who said enough was enough and sued the Boston Diocese (which had to spend so much its money paying for the sins of all its pedophile priests) for control of their own retirement funds. The nuns reached a nice settlement. WAY TO GO NUNS!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Sue Grafton, for many reasons of course, including that she won't sell Kinsey Milhone to the movies. And Sara Paretsky. And how about Annette Bening? I dunno, she just seems kind of great to me. Got to have Rosa Parks. Tina Turner. Geraldine Ferraro. OH, definitely, Myra Kraft, who hung out with her husbands football team and showed them how to open their hearts.

: What a coincidence...I just got a copy of Uppity Women of Medieval Times. And right now (okay..not RIGHT now) I'm reading Catherine the Great by Robert Massie. Now THAT was an Uppity Woman. Fourteen years old, journeys to Russia, meets the idiot bridegroom, assesses the situation, bides her time, takes a few lovers and husband conveniently dies so she becomes Empress of all the Russias. Uppity.

More recently - and on a somewhat smaller scale - the first UW that leaps to mind is Kathryn Bigelow who won an Oscar for The Hurt Locker. That she beat her ex-husband for the honor must have been a nice little bonus.

LUCY BURDETTE: Gloria Steinem of course. Elinor Lipman (not only a wonderful novelist, but have you seen the poems she's writing on facebook?). Former Texas Governor Kay Richards. How about Sandra Day O'Connor, and Ruth Ginsberg and Sonya Sotomayer, and Elena Kagan--I think sitting on the Supreme Court (not to mention getting there) takes an enormous reserve of guts.

RHYS BOWEN: Did we leave out Hilary Clinton? Tina Fey? Margaret Thatcher? And one of the most assertive, but not uppity, was Mother Theresa. I saw a documentary in which she got everything she wanted in her calm, dignified manner, staring down men twice her size.

HALLIE: So, Jungle Red Readers, let's hear it -- your nominations to the Contemporary Uppity Women's Hall of Fame?


  1. Two women who prominently portray Uppity Women: Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep; Anita Hill, Julia Cameron, and Ann Richards would be additions to the great list you already have going.

  2. Olympia Snowe, senior senator from Maine

  3. Great adds. Loved Ann Richards who "did it backwards and in high heels." Sigh, Olympia Snowe. Can't wait to see what she does next. And OF COURSE Oprah!

  4. Malvina Reynolds. Hard to get more uppity than that songwriter.

  5. Madeleine Albright.

    The late and unsinkable Molly Ivins.

    The late and lamented Katharine Graham.

    A woman named Rose, who was the first female life insurance agent in Cincinnati, and who was my idol when I got started in the late 70's.

  6. Can't forget Janis Joplin, or Cass Eliot, for that matter.

    Margaret Sanger

    Margaret Mead

    Rachel Carson

    Marie Cure

    Florence Nightingale

  7. Sinead O'Connor. To say that she is vocal, well... I can think of no other female artist who has given a voice (and what a voice!) to sincere matters of global concern. She was right about the Catholic Church when all that most could see (erroneously) was a nonviolent act of defaming the world's most iconic living religious figurehead. A decade later and the evidence of abuse she fought against came to light in ways no one could have imagined. She was right about Iron Pants Maggie giving orders to gun down black boys on mopeds while publicly condemning similar murders born of political oppression in Beijing. And she's right about Trayvon Martin and the sorry state of hate that continues to permeate our society. Not only does she point out the wrong that's going on - she offers solutions for how to right them. Sinead always has something vital to say, and being a masterful poet she often says it brilliantly and forcefully, even with a mere whisper.


  8. Thanks, Jerry House! I love Malvina Reynolds and I didn't even know it. Talk about late bloomer. And she wrote the lyrics to some of my favorite songs. "Little boxes, on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky-tacky..." (Pete Seeger made it an anthem.) Making a b-line for iTunes.

  9. Jeffery - and that could be a whole blog, much more serious than this one. Much to think about.

  10. Leonora Carrington! Bettye Lavette! Hilary Mantel (not only for her wonderful books but for all she has survived - actually, that's true for Carrington, too: sent to an asylum by her parents...). Hell, Jane Austen!

  11. Pat Summitt, the coach of the Tennessee Women's Basketball team, who was diagnosed last year with early-onset Alzheimer's at the age of 59.

    Coach Summitt has the most wins of any coach in NCAA basketball history. (That includes the men's teams.) Her teams have won the national title eight times.

    Tennessee lost to Baylor last night in an emotional game many say will be her last as coach of the Lady Vols.

    She's my nominee for the Uppity Women Hall of Fame.

  12. Hell, YES, Jane Austen, Clea!

    Wow, Brenda - I didn't know about Pat Summitt. She sounds amazing.

    Which made me think of Diana Nyad. Uppity and then some. And Jackie Joyner-Kersee. And Billie Jean King!

  13. For courage, talent and joy-
    Marianne Leone and Ann Hood

  14. Dorothy Parker!

  15. Great add: Dorothy Parker -- “The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”

  16. Mustn't forget the suffragettes, the epitome of uppity women. Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Bloomer (she popularized an early version of trousers for women), and of course Elizabeth Cady Stanton, all of whom were staunch abolitionists but argued that ALL people should have the right to vote, not just men.

    Then of course we have Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, who opened the first birth control clinic in the United States.

  17. Did anyone mention Betty Ford? And yes, of course, Olympia Snow.

    And just because she worked for George Bush, doesn't mean we can't include Condoleeza Rice, does it? She is incredibly accomplished and had her way.

  18. Jan, I started to list Condaleeza Rice, but then I remembered the "uppity" label. Not appropriate, I thought.

  19. Agreed, Jan, "Uppityness" is equal opportunity.

  20. I'd put Eleanor Roosevelt in that category... and on a personal note, my Aunt Mary. She was a Catholic nun for more than 50 years, but told me that I didn't need to marry to have sex, could argue politics better than anyone, and often and openly questioned the existence of God. She was fascinating.

  21. This is a wonderful list. I'm saving all the names for my teenage daughter and her friends.

  22. Clare, I would have enjoyed your Aunt Mary.

    Darlene: Of course! How did we miss Eleanor Roosevelt?

  23. Gwendolyn Brooks, great African American poet when the American literary establishment didn't think women or African Americans could be good poets, became the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize (in 1950!) and to become US Poet Laureate (which was called Consultant to Library of Congress in those days).

    My favorite uppity woman, though, is my hero, Wilma Mankiller, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Ghi gua! That's Cherokee for "beloved woman," traditionally a woman who has both given birth and fought in battle, one who is given a swan's wing and the ability to sit in council and veto any war. before they assimilated, the Cherokee knew how to do things better.

  24. I don't know if I dare call her uppity, but she is determined and brooks no nonsense and happens to be the best human being I know. My wife, of course.

  25. Inspiring lists, everyone! Let me add:

    Eileen Collins, first (and only, I believe)woman to pilot the space shuttle.

    Aung San Suu Kyi, speaking up and facing down dictators.

    Elizabeth Edwards for NOT standing by her cheating, lying, politician husband after he fathered a baby with another woman.

  26. Jerry, that is incredibly sweet! Wouldn't we all like to be nominated for those reasons!!

  27. Lest I forget, writers and bloggers Lilith Saintcrow and J.T. Ellison, who never bend their necks to ANYONE.

  28. What about Barbara Mertz (writing as both Barbara Michaels and Elizabeth Peters)? She's given us a lifetime of Uppity heroines, especially the redoubtable Amelia Peabody, as well as her own considerable accomplishments in the field of Egyptology, and to my knowledge has never hesitated to speak her mind about anything!

  29. In the uppity women authors category, I'd like to nominate JA Jance (aka Judy), whose panel with Jeff Deaver I had the pleasure of moderating this weekend at the Virginia Festival of the Book. When she was at the University of Arizona in the 60's, she applied for the creative writing program -- only to have the professor tell her he would not teach a woman. She thought she was doing the next best thing when she married someone in the program. He was an aspiring author/full-time alcoholic who, before dying of the disease at age 42, told her there was only going to be one author in the Jance family. It turns out he was absolutely right: JA is now a New York Times bestselling author with more than 20 million books in print. She told me her favorite book is HOUR OF THE HUNTER, where the deranged killer just so happens to be… a former creative writing professor from the University of Arizona.

    Submitted with Love and Admiration to the Reds,

    THAT Brad Parks

  30. Ah, Karen, good point. Especially in an insanely politically correct world, but it seems discriminatory to NOT include her (you can't win for losing)

    And I do think that we mean it as the highest compliment. And she is in excellent, multi-racial, multi-age, multi-talent company.

  31. Bernadette Devlin
    And Auntie-Mom, of course.

  32. Debs,your comment made me think of Mary Higgins Clark -- also uppity but in a different way than Barbara Mertz.

    And HI THERE Brad Parks! How interesting about J. A. Jance. Reminds me of a friend of mine, a well published author, whose English professor husband told her to get a nursing degree while she was at home with their baby trying to finish her first novel. Fortunately she ignored the advice.

  33. Barbara Mertz/Elizabeth Peters for sure! Her uppity women are the best: Amelia Peabody, Vicky Bliss, Jacqueline Kirby!

  34. Everyone's taken! But Marcia Clark came to mind as does Angelina Jolie.

  35. Now that I've read Brad Parks' I have to add JA Jance... omg. And if Brad could be nominated, I would nominate him for nominating her.

  36. Hi - Has anyone mentioned Katherine Hepburn!!! She gets my vote. Dee

  37. Love Katharine Hepburn. Did I mention that I met her once? And I had to add this so we'd get to 40...

  38. Belated add: Adrienne Rich, who died in late March - From her poem "Diving Into the Wreck":
    We are, I am, you are
    by cowardice or courage
    the one who find our way
    back to the scene
    carrying a knife, a camera
    a book of myths
    in which
    our names do not appear.

  39. Unsinkable Molly Brown, Oprah, Margaret Thatcher, Patsy Cline, and Agatha Christie...