Straight, white, gender-conforming males are typically steered toward sports stars and action heroes as role-models, and while I appreciate Doug Flutie and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the truth is that in my life, women have had a greater influence than men. Therefore, I thought it might be appropriate to talk about some women I admire this International Women’s Day.
One woman I admire is Nicole Blackman. She is a poet and performance artist from New York City. I’m thankful she collaborated with KMFDM on the song “Dogma,” which is how I was exposed to Blackman. I tracked down her chapbook, Blood Sugar, and it changed my life. Poem after poem showed me this woman’s experience, and it made my heart ache for her, and for myself. I admire Nicole Blackman for living through pain and still having the courage to speak her truth to a cold, indifferent world. I try to emulate her honesty every day.
Dr. Mae Jemison is another woman I admire. It’s easy enough to be impressed by her profound intellect, but what I truly admire about Dr. Jemison is her determination and persistence. Whether it’s how she overcame prejudice in college or her dogged pursuit of the dream of space flight inspired by Nichelle Nichols, Mae Jemison is a woman who simply wouldn’t take no for an answer. Hell, she made Lieutenant in Starfleet before age 40; I haven’t even gotten a commission yet. I can only hope to some day go as boldly as she.
Closer to home, I admire Phyllis Gallisath and Sara Dorner. Both women have experienced things I cannot fathom and have overcome. They are both (in different yet complimentary ways) working to make the world a better place, and they’ve done more good in just the past year than I’ll probably do in a lifetime. Sara and Phyllis are fighters: warriors for justice and change. I’m proud to know both of you. You inspire me to do and be better.
Finally, while she’s not a woman yet, my daughter, Muirne, is well on her way to being one I admire, too. She is a million times more woke than I was at her age (or even twice or three times her age, let’s be honest.) She understands so much about how people, places, and things are interconnected, and has big ideas about how to make things better. Her imagination is without bounds. She is kind, compassionate, and curious. Muirne is the best thing that has ever happened to me.