Life, Love, and Dirty Diapers

The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Michele Bachmann

I think by now Michele Bachmann is a pretty household name. A representative from Minnesota that I had hardly heard of before has been thrust into the national spotlight with a run for president.

  • A state representative from Minnesota
  • She was attempting to gain the Republican presidential nomination for the upcoming race until she dropped out this morning (that’s breaking news)

Is she influential? Hard to say. I think government leaders to some extent are more or less influential. It’s hard because I would have answered this differently weeks ago, when she was more a front runner in the presidential race because as a potential president, of course she would be highly influential. But the numbers now are not playing out like she will be successful, which means she will probably disappear and we may well never hear much about her again. (Do you hear much about the people who didn’t do well in the Republican primary in 2008? Not really – not unless they ran again or made some significant win in the primaries.) So maybe it’s a wait and see. Iowa, after all, doesn’t have to doom you – but it can often doom you. And certainly, I’m sure she didn’t want only a 5 percent vote and to come in last. At any rate, it looks like Iowa won’t really matter at all for her, as she announced this morning that she is dropping out. At this rate, since she dropped out, I think she will continue to be less and less influential.

Note: I have often been asked on what I feel about women being president. My answer? I don’t think you should support anyone woman for president just because she is a woman. Additionally, I am almost, at this point in my life, harder on women candidates than male candidates. Why? Sort of for the same reason that George Washington had to be the right first president. I think the first woman president will set a precedent for future woman presidents, just like George Washington set the president for the rest of presidents. If he had acted too much like a king, then I doubt our democracy would have been successful. In the same way, my fear is that the first woman president elected, if unsuccessful, would make it harder for future women to be elected – so I always want to make sure when I look at a woman running for president that I ask myself “If she were to be the first woman president, would it be harder for women to be elected after her?” The first one of anything is important. So that’s my stance on women presidents.

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Sue Savage-Rumbaugh

Oh boy. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh is a name I am super unfamiliar with. Come learn along with me.

  • She works with monkeys studying their use of language.

I think that she is influential but to a very limited extent. I think she is influential within her field, but I’m not sure her work particularly effects ordinary people. Teaching monkeys language is a cool and useful thing for people who work with primates, but I’m not sure how it would effect the average person. So I will say she is very limitedly influential. However, there is some evidence that her research might someday be used to help children with disabilities learn to communicate, but I will still say her influence is limited because it hasn’t been used for that yet and it might never be and/or it might not be successful.

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Dilma Rousseff

I have to admit Dilma Rousseff is another name I wasn’t super familiar with. I mean, okay, I did study politics, but ask me if I know the leader of every country in the world and the answer would be no. But I doubt you would either and if you can, gold star to you. Anyways, let’s find out about her.

  • Current president of Brazil (first woman to hold that position)
  • She’s had her hand in ousting several corrupt leaders from the Brazilian government.

Is she influential? Definitely! I think the leader of the country is always influential, but there are certain leaders that are even more influential and I think she is one of them. There are a lot of people in politics who speculate that Brazil is going to be one of the next world powers (it’s currently the 7th largest economy in the world) and I don’t doubt it – Latin America is just poised to really come onto the political scene in their own way. So I think like whether or not Brazil becomes a super power or gets put on the path to be a super power will be related to their leaders, which means it is related to her. Also, she does have a sketchy background (she was involved in an armed struggle for Marxism earlier in her life) but she shows that she hasn’t let that define her or keep her out of the political arena and also showing that people can change – as she now supports capitalism, not Marxism.

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama. A pretty well known, household name right now I would say. Nevertheless, let’s take a look.

  • She is the current First Lady.
  • While she is involved in many causes, her best known one (in my opinion) has to do with eating healthy and ending childhood obesity (Let’s Move which “will give parents the support they need, provide healthier food in schools, help our kids to be more physically active, and make healthy, affordable food available in every part of our country.” – From the White House, link in the sources).
  • She also recently started an initiative for military families – big kudos there!

I have to say if I were First Lady, I don’t think all of the issues she worked on would be the same issues I would work on, but every First Lady sort of has their cause. We’re different people – and that’s okay. But nevertheless, her work has seen real results and I think that makes her influential because she’s not just saying “This is what we should do.” And then people ignore her. No – people have listened to her and made changes. Look at some of what Let’s Move has accomplished (taken from their website, link below):

  • Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act
  • “Three of the largest food service providers have committed to improving the food they provide to schools.”
  • Working on putting more than 5,000 salad bars in schools
  • Chefs Move to Schools
  • Working to ensure more playgrounds and Safe Routes to School
  • Let’s Move Cities and Towns

And that’s just part of it – so you can definitely see that this initiative she is leading is being highly influential in this country in her own way.

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Gabrielle Giffords

I remember when Gabrielle Giffords was the name across the country. Let’s take a look at why.

  • Arizona Democrat member of the House of Representatives
  • She was shot in the head by a constituent in January of 2011 but survived.

I think she was influential – well, not her precisely, but what happened to her. Before she was shot, not many people knew her name. But after her shooting, she really united America in a unique way. It didn’t matter that she was a Democrat from Arizona – she was one of our own, one of our representatives that had been shot. And that had a uniting factor about it for the country for a little while. Especially since she survived – her story of recovery pushed the nation together, everyone was pulling for her.

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P.S. Not related to her influence, but she was the youngest woman that has ever been elected to serve in the senate in Arizona. Which I think is pretty cool.

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Aung San Suu Kyi

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! Let’s take a look at Aung San Suu Kyi.

  • Non-violent activist in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) working for peace and democracy.
  • She has been under house arrest in the past for over 10 years (sources differ between 14 and 15 years) though she is now free.
  • She was the legitimately elected leader, but unable to lead due to the house arrest issue (and because the government in power just didn’t like her).
  • Her and her party are getting ready to run again, despite the bad outcomes for her on the last time she ran.
  • She holds a Nobel Peace Prize.

I want to add this video too since I think it does a pretty good job explaining a lot of the background to her:

I’m not going to lie when I say I think she’s influential, because I truly think she is, but I should admit upfront my bias. She has been my political hero for a long time for her unrelenting perseverance in the face of a very oppressive government. But apart from that, if not for her work and the people working with her, Myanmar/Burma would have very little chance of ever seeing freedom because it is hard and scary to stand up to a military junta and they’re not likely to just say “Oh you’re being oppressed? Sorry about that, here’s your freedom back.” Later on at some point, I will probably do a more in depth piece on her because I think she is such an important and influential figure.

I know I haven’t been including videos with this series, but I will today because I think it’s worth listening to her explain why non-violence is so important.

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Kim Clijsters

I have to admit that I’ve never heard of Kim Clijsters before. And that I have no idea how to say her last name. But she’s the next woman on the list so let’s take a look at her.

  • She was a professional tennis player from Belgium who left to start a family.
  • After the birth of her daughter, she decided to go back to tennis.
  • She won two US open titles since her return, becoming the first mother since 1980 to win such a major title.
  • She won 41 Women’s Tennis Association titles and 4 Grand Slam titles (both singles).
  • She often volunteers to help out with charities.
  • She has received the Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award not once but seven times.

I’m not sure about how much influence she has, but I think she should have more. She seems like she would be a really good role model for little girls to look up to. She’s a good sport, she gives back, she balances work and family – all great things that we need more of in our media.

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan – I’m not very familiar with her to be honest, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she isn’t influential. Sometimes people can be influential behind the scenes or can still be influential despite people not knowing their name. But was she influential in 2011? Let’s take a look at what she did and then I’ll render my verdict.

  • She’s a fiction writer and a journalist.
  • Her book A Visit from the Goon Squad received a Pulitzer prize.
Is she influential? I think I am going to say yes. As I was investigating her, I ran across some of the journalism articles she wrote, it turns out I’ve read quite a few of them before – I just wasn’t aware it was her. They were really big pieces dealing with some tough issues and I think making a splash (One example would be this article: Wanted: A Few Good Sperm). Certainly, we may not know the name of our journalists, but they are highly influential in the terms that they control what news gets reported and how it gets reported. So I am ruling her influential as well.
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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Amy Chua

Amy Chua. Maybe you don’t recognize the name, but if I say Tiger Mom, would you recognize that?

Let’s learn a little more about her:

  • She is a law professor at Yale.
  • She wrote a memoir called Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother which was about raising American kids the Chinese way.
  • Her book started a huge debate over how to parent your kids.
  • Her daughter has responded to the criticism of her mother by standing up for her mother.

If nothing else, she is influential because she started this huge conversation about how we should parent and what effect that has on our kids. I think having that conversation is important, regardless of what you think of her style. It started a conversation that needed to be had – what kind of parenting is best for our kids? It’s something that should be talked about. I can’t say anything yet about what I think of the memoir because I haven’t read it yet (but I plan to at some point) and I shouldn’t judge a whole book based on the comments of people online. But was she influential in this past year? Definitely.

Oh and because she’s influential for writing a book, here is a link to excerpts of it and at the end, the book itself:

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*I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you decide to buy the book after clicking on the link, part of the proceeds will come back to me. Thanks for supporting me!

 

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Angela Merkel

Now here is someone who I think definitely deserves to be named most influential. Angela Merkel has a lot of power, especially in Europe, so let’s find out a little bit more about her.

Angela Merkel:

  • Current (and first female) Chancellor of Germany
  • Was President of the European Council
  • Played an important role in negotiations of the Berlin Declaration and the Treaty of Lisbon
  • Second woman to chair the G8
  • Named 4th Most Powerful Person in the World and the Most Powerful Woman in the World by Forbes
  • Received the Vision for Europe Award
  • Received the Charlemagne Prize
  • Received the  B’nai B’rith Europe Award of Merit
  • Received the Leo Baeck Medal
  • Received the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • First person from what was East Germany to lead the country

Influential? Definitely! She is all over the political scene in Europe and with Germany being such a big economy in Europe, her actions and decisions will have a huge effect on how the Eurozone fairs, for better or for worse.

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