Arrow-right Camera


Women Criticized For Stands, Not Sex

Sat., May 13, 1995, midnight

Janet Reno, attorney general, is in trouble for being, as some call her, “chief of the federal thugs.” Marion Hammer, the future National Rifle Association president, is in trouble with people who favor the assault weapons ban. Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth is in trouble for not distancing herself far enough from the militant militia. Former surgeon general Joycelyn Elders got in so much trouble she lost her job.

Women in trouble. What a wonderful thing.

Everyone who believes women deserve to be treated as equals in our society should celebrate each time a high-profile woman gets in trouble for the right reasons. For sticking to her guns. For refusing to apologize if she’s right. For admitting a mistake. For telling the truth, even if the truth is painful.

Women have truly arrived when they are in trouble for their ideas and convictions, and not because they have strayed from our culture’s opinion about what women ought to be and do. People aren’t angry at Reno because she never married. They aren’t disgusted with Chenoweth because her hairstyle’s out of date. They aren’t upset with Hammer for preaching the gospel of guns when she should be home with her grandchildren. In fact, the gender of the in-trouble women rarely comes up.

This could signal a cultural change. How refreshing.

In the old days, when a young woman was said to be “in trouble,” it meant she had gotten pregnant out of wedlock.

Women have come a long way, but young girls still need role models who will teach them how to handle trouble. The desire for others’ approval can overshadow a young girl’s desire to be her own person. A study of adolescent girls by the American Association of University Women revealed that, around age 13, confident girls begin to question themselves. Among the questions: “If I’m a feisty social critic will I be branded a troublemaker?”

The young girls should know that women troublemakers blaze the way for change. The suffragettes were arrested, jailed and ridiculed, but they won women the vote 75 years ago. Editorial writers throughout the country lambasted Eleanor Roosevelt, but she changed - forever - the activist role that a president’s wife can embrace.

So let the trouble roll on, high-profile women of the world. It’s good for all of us.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Rebecca Nappi/For the editorial board

Click here to comment on this story »