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Why #womenbywomen matters

In Ideas on 31 Mar 2016 at 12:16 pm

women by women

The Washington Post did something genius and I sure wish I’d thought of it first. The hashtag is #womenbywomen.

March is Women’s History Month. Eh. I’m not a big believer in such artificial calendar things, but they can provide the peg you need for a project like this. As WashPo digital audience producer Julia Carpenter explains in a blog post, the idea was to comb the newspaper archives for profiles of interesting women that were written by other interesting women.

Why? Well, I certainly think it’s possible – probable, in fact – that in 1981 a writer like Lynn Darling would have a different take on Maya Angelou than, say, Norman Mailer. And that difference is worth noting. I’m not going to rail against the patriarchy here, but we need to acknowledge diversity of opinion and celebrate it when we further the cause. From the Darling’s long-ago profile:

Maya Angelou is 53, and tall as a tower; an earth mother with just enough prima donna about her to make it interesting. She has the confidence of a barnstormer, she knows how to wing it. Certainly the life she’s led has called for a wide variety of moves.

“Oh, I’ve lived a roller coaster life,” she says. “There has been this disappointment and that satisfaction, and then it begins all over again. Or maybe it’s one of those terrible rides that not only goes round and round, but also dips at the same time.”

That is breathtaking writing. …

The best part is that we can do this too from our own archives. In The Half Moon Bay Review, I found this 4-year-old story about a local priest blessing boats, written by former staff writer Lily Bixler. She is now a writer for the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Here’s a story by former reporter Sara Hayden, who is now working on a book and Web-based project chronicling the lives of Asian-Americans in the West. Her story is about a local woman who saves snow leopards in Siberia. Just for the heck of it, I tweeted the links with the Washington Post hashtag. Who knows? Maybe it will generate some traffic on long-lost assets.

I guess it’s all a reminder to look for fresh perspectives, to honor diversity in our communities and to mine our archives for fresh reads whenever possible.

Clay

 

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