The Sexes


A Beautiful Life.

“Even in the centuries which appear to us to be the most monstrous and foolish, the immortal appetite for beauty has always found satisfaction.” Charles Baudelaire

President Obama was taken to task and the “liberal” woodshed for his recent comments concerning California’s female Attorney General. An old friend and political supporter, Obama said that Kamala Harris is “brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough,” as well as “she also happens to be, by far, the best looking attorney general in the country.”

It was that last observation, on her looks, that brought down the wrath of liberal women, that to comment on a woman’s physicality (appearance), in the context of her work, was inappropriate, sexist and demeaning of women. Being a feminist and a consumer of history, I am sensitive to any practice (speech in this case) that in any way demeans, limits or restricts a woman’s freedom, independence or opportunity.

Aside from beauty pageants, the consideration of a woman’s physical appearance is irrelevant to any “job” she pursues. Period. End of story. If laws (regulations) are required to eliminate job preference (promotions, wages, etc.) based on physical appearance, so be it. That said.

You’re beginning to see more “commentary” on how we, in the West, have placed too much coin on the pursuit of individual freedom at the expense of community. A favorite philosopher of mine Richard Rorty thought we need to pursue/balance both virtues. Both individuality (in its infinite expressions) and the commonweal.

One of the things that I love about America is that America’s women can freely walk around looking like goddesses. Not necessarily at 2:00 AM in rough neighborhoods (although I would like my America to facilitate just that, that no woman was ever in harm’s way, anywhere/anytime). But in much of our nation, there are beautiful women everywhere. They are ubiquitous as flowers. That America’s women—the goddesses among us—who publicly appear so, this represents a national value—individual expression’s of personal freedom. That said.

I objectify women. I have all my life. For whatever the reason, when I was in kindergarten I became enchanted by a classmate who broke my heart when she moved away that year. I couldn’t tell you what she looked like (although her joie de vivre comes to mind), but I remember her as beautiful. Where does that come from? As has been observed the heart knows what it knows and each sex objectifies the other. We do. Each sex appreciates beauty, both similarly and differently. That said.

Is there too much emphasis in America on beauty? Perhaps. Arguably. Has its consideration any place when hiring and promoting America’s workforce? We can all agree, absolutely not. To the degree that Obama’s comments undermines the commonweal (by undermining the status of women) he should be called out. All men need to hear from the women in their lives when their actions/comments cross the line. That said.

“Some guys say beauty is only skin deep. But when you walk into a party, you don’t see somebody’s brain. The initial contact has to be the sniffing.” James Caan

Know what? I wouldn’t limit “the sniffing” to just the guys. Slice it/dice it. Gals have preferences, too. Some seek the big brains. Others gravitate to big wallets. But if the brains and/or the bucks come in a handsome package, too, well, isn’t that just the beautiful life? It happens. Sometimes.

He’s Not Dead . . . He’s Married.

Marriage means commitment. Of course, so does insanity. Author Unknown

For some inexplicable reason Hugh Hefner’s name (of Playboy fame) came up in a recent group conversation and someone wondered if he was still living and I laughing suggested, “He’s not dead, he’s married.” Many yucks followed.

Hefner, 86, married 26-year-old Crystal Harris, a former Playmate. This was Hefner’s third marriage and her first. They were married last December. These sorts of “arrangements” are a bit baffling to me. Hefner obviously does not need to “get” married to have sex with Playboy centerfolds. He’s had multiple long-term relationships (relatively speaking) with “Bunnies” he’s featured in Playboy. One can hardly fault him for that. The question arises as to the motivation for the young Ms. Harris. Two reasons come to mind. She’s not particularly bright. Or, it’s that sexy bulge in Hefner’s . . . um. . . back pocket.

I’m inclined to think it’s a combination of both. She may not be the brightest bulb in the pack (although she certainly does light-up the page), but she is brilliant enough to grab the “golden” ring. A marital pre-nup was probably Hefner’s dowry (ah, the price one pays for youth), so regardless of the outcome of this, uh, union, Ms. Harris will be well compensated. As well she should be. This marriage was a transaction. As are all marriages.

One of the funniest things I regularly witness on Park Avenue is the gray-haired lad (in his 50s or early 60s) with a young, snot-nosed child in tow, walking slightly behind his pram-pushing “trophy wife.” She’s maybe 33 and is invariably yacking away on a cell phone. The child in the stroller is crying and our “lad” has the deer-in-the-headlights look of “My gawd, what have I done?” Cruelly, I inwardly laugh.

Marriage is a human construct. It’s not a gift from god, unless, of course, your god has a wicked sense of humor.

My 42-year-old, once married daughter thinks marriage 50 years from now will be a dramatically different institution. That, yes, marriages will occur; folks will legally “hook-up” to have children but expecting two people to be contracted to one another “for life” is untenable and presumptuous. You never really know the person you are marrying and people inevitably change. My daughter speculates that in fifty years, folks will be married (or attached) a number of times, reflecting how we change as we mature, just as our expectations (needs & wants) revise as we grow as individuals.

My sister (Saint Sandra of Socorro) has often remarked that marriage is the most difficult “thing” we humans do. It begs the question, why is that? Mythologist Joseph Campbell talked at length about the Golden marriage and what it takes to achieve its rewards. Campbell advocates the surrender of self to marriage. Talk about a difficult concept. Biblical scholar Jerry McCant observed that, “You can never be happily married to another until you get a divorce from yourself. Successful marriage demands a certain death to self.”

Euphemistically speaking, the death of “ones” offers the possibility of a life for two. Sublimating one’s ego poses the question, to what end? That is a conundrum all of us—at one time or another—confront.

Robert Anderson, author of Solitaire & Double Solitaire said, “In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage.”

Many tire of the game.

The Cosmopolitan Texan – Not An Oxymoron

A good man can make you feel sexy, strong and able to take on the world…Ohh sorry that’s vodka….vodka does that. Anonymous

Ha! Ha! I’m writing about a good man this week and I Googled quotes on the “good man” and I came across the above which caused me to laugh out loud.

What makes a good man? The first quality that comes to my mind is kindness. Is he kind? Not only to family and friends but to strangers as well? Is he generous of spirit? Does he have empathy? Does he connect with humanity and see his story as part of the fabric of life?
Kindness, generosity, empathy, connectedness are often considered “more” feminine qualities yet they are the first attributes I would use to describe my good friend and confidant, the quite masculine Louis Hughes.

Mr. Hughes was my age, 64, when he hired me in 1986 to work with him in the Development Office of Winter Park Memorial Hospital. This Tuesday past, he celebrated his birthday. Hughes, today, volunteers three days a week in the WPMH emergency room. We lunch several times a month.

Louis Hughes grew-up on a West Texas ranch. During the Dust Bowl Days no less. He experienced the greatest gift any of us every receive, that of the good parent(s). That and oil leases, eh, Louis? Hughes “left” Texas to be educated in the East, served in WWII, eventually living, working and parenting in the Northeast. He worked for Harvard and The University of Pennsylvania Development offices before arriving in Winter Park in 1984 to become the Vice President of Development for WPMH.

The first thing I noticed about Louis was his sartorial habit. He wore three-piece suits everyday. A bit of a clothes-horse myself, I judged his ties rather conservative. His attire contributed to an over-all initial impression that Hughes was formal, formidable and somewhat unapproachable.

Hughes is a snob. He’ll deny it. He’s well read. He likes art. He’s cultured. He plays the piano. Today. He’s been places, seen things. He appears to be the type of gentleman who will not indulge in small talk. It’s all a façade. Not his cultural attributes, his veneer of aloofness. He doesn’t take himself seriously. Hughes resists, however, sophomoric humor (which I do employ) yet will indulge my uncouth, “common” observations. We both appreciate beautiful (in every sense of the word) women. He’s a wonderful, delightful man with which to enjoy life.

Two closing observations. Hughes married for a second time to Arlene “Petie” Showalter of Winter Park, Florida. She was the love of his life and they had over two decades of happiness together before her death.

A final story. Louis and I would, upon arriving for work each morning, stand at the development office receptionist counter for ten or so minutes, coffee in hand, and discuss the “nature” of life. Much laughter ensued. One day, Louis, said in passing, that at one point in his life he had four children in diapers. You could have picked my jaw off the floor.

I only found out some years later that all four of those once-diapered children were adopted. His love for his four children (Ned, Margaret, Justine & Jeff) has been unconditional and unwavering. They give him much joy.

Hughes is a prince among men and on his 91st birthday, vodka is unnecessary (champagne, perhaps) when singing his praises. Happy Birthday, Lad! More!

I Can Take No From
Anyone But You.

Ah, love. Is it like pornography? You’ll know it when you see it?

I marvel at human beings. We’re this complex soup of chemicals that one moment we’re higher than a kite on adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin, such, we’re “riding high in April.” Only, to be (at times), “Shot down in May.” Sing it, Frank!

I confess to thinking babies are cute. I don’t think that necessarily makes me a girly-man (although I do like fabrics, too); I imagine our species is chemically induced to think as much. Consider the alternative. That we (men & women) didn’t go “Aw-shucks” at the sight of the newborn. Young love, however, is much more interesting to observe than the immediate byproducts of our, hmmm, unions. Young adults (so beautiful and physically lean)—all ga-ga in love—are such a hopeful expression of what it means to be human. Being in love puts a kick in your step, is inherently hopeful and, I think, makes you more generous toward your fellow man.

That you are in this chemically-induced state of euphoria and that it is attributable—directly linked—to your being enthralled with another person is a fairly predictable (regular) human experience. I read a study suggesting that it takes oh, about 90 seconds to determine if you “fancy” someone. And it’s based on body language and the “speed and tone of their voice.” Not so much on what you say as how you say it. It’s initially all about how you look and how you talk. Not to rain on anyone’s parade but what’s the definition of superficial?

And why is that? It’s the lament women worldwide wail. That, that . . . MEN! . . . are all about the physical. I hate to disabuse my feminine friends but that GONE IN 90 SECONDS phenomena mentioned earlier applies to both sexes. And I again ask, “Why is that?”

Why would the human species place such a premium on what we today determine to be superficial, all surface—substance to be determined later?

Because, contrary to what anyone might suggest, there is no more meaning to/in life than the perpetuation of the (a) species. Arguably, pursuing the meaning—any meaning—in life is an individual trek (and expression). But from the perspective of our species, making babies (and having them live) is it.

We are hardwired, chemically induced to copulate. At some core, primitive level of our being (if you will), our attraction to one another (male/female) is predicated on perpetuating the species. All those wondrous chemicals that our bodies so eagerly produce when we first encounter “our desired” are created so we will “create” the next generation. It’s all about sex. In the beginning.

Actually, I am not convinced it isn’t the underlining impetus for all human encounters/ unions/bondings (at any age, even in your 80s). These chemicals (Better Living Through Chemistry, for sure) we so willingly manufacture are with us, to varying degrees, all our lives. We may have sex in our 80s with no chance of a baby outcome but how we came to be in the sack (so to speak) may be the result of the same driver that has us making love in our 20s. It’s really not so mysterious after all. Perhaps.

I am reminded of that famous—so hauntingly melodic—country-western classic, I Can Take No From Anyone But You, that this Valentines Day, a hot “Yes!” be on your lips. Go ahead, blame it on the drugs. You’d be justified.

At The Dance.

Ah, such goodies I have for you.

Many of you will already know from whence I speak. I’ve a book and movie by the same name to recommend. Here’s what Bosley Crowther, movie reviewer for the New York Times, had to say August 13, 1963, “The film that Luchino Visconti and his star, Burt Lancaster, have made from Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s fine novel The Leopard is a stunning visualization of a mood of melancholy and nostalgia at the passing of an age.”

The Leopard was published in 1958 and made into a movie five years later. I highly recommend that you first read the book and then Netflix the movie. The writing, the book is spot-on marvelous. The movie is gorgeous.

It’s Burt Lancaster as the lead who makes the movie so fascinating to watch. Lancaster plays a Sicilian prince in 1860s Italy. Everything is changing. His world is disintegrating. But what’s a prince to do? He hunts. He reads. He conducts scientific experiments. He carouses. He leads his family. He debates with the family priest. He’s sexy. Ironic. He’s a modern man (of sorts) lamenting the loss of his privileged status. He has faults. What man hasn’t? But as one English lady observed of the Prince, after reading the book, “There is a man I could have loved.” And how difficult could it be to have loved the likes and looks of Lancaster?

I cannot specifically remember how I first came to read The Leopard but I was still an impressionable teenager. I missed the movie’s release in 1963, probably not seeing it until Blockbuster Video opened in the late 1980s. What I do vividly recall was my utter fascination with the author’s creation of the primary character, the Prince, a man at the pinnacle of the social order who clearly understood that his day in the sun was inexorably passing. Not only was Italian nobility being replaced by—of all things!—a bourgeoisie middle class but the Prince was now one of the “old ones at the dance.”

I could easily live in Italy today. The land, the food, the history, the art, the climate, the people, Italy is a grand experience. And to have, once-upon-a-time, lived there as a Prince on 700-year-old estates, well, sign me up.

Burt Lancaster was born in 1913 and was 50 years old when The Leopard was released. He looks about as good as a man can look (in life/or movie). He’s trim. He’s fit. He’s handsome. He’s educated. But he’s melancholy. Life, alas, hasn’t stopped, hasn’t paused even briefly for him, a Prince no less. Time unfortunately does not defer to title or social class.

The last 45 minutes of the movie is a gaudy, extravagant ball where the Prince dances with a rapturous Claudia Cardinale, whose character, Angelica, is described in the book as “tall and well made, on an ample scale; her skin looked as if it had the flavor of fresh cream, which it resembled . . . and emanating from her whole person was the invincible calm of a woman sure of her beauty.” So lush a woman that one man upon first seeing her could “feel the veins pulsing in his temples.”

I’d cry, too, as does the Prince in the movie. So much beauty in life—sigh—so quickly gone.

The Leopard captures that dichotomy of human experience, hmmm, shall we say, beautifully.

I Can Take No But Not From You.

I’m thinking of “I Can Take No But Not From You,” as a song title and chorus lyrics for a country western song. I think I can write a song. And to have “I Can Take No But Not From You” as a starting point well, visually, I’m already picking-up my award in Nashville. Yea Baby.

So, I could use some help. Add an idea, your “eight words” and our success will be a collaborative effort. Publish here your words.

Give it up for “I Can Take No From Anyone But You.”

c.

What Now?

I did not deny God’s existence, but I doubted His absolute justice.
- Elie Wiesel, “Night.”

I’ve been reading a few pages, each evening, of “Night” by Elie Wiesel. I can only take a few pages before I have to set it down. I inwardly shout, “Get out! Leave! Now! Run!” Night recounts Wiesel’s experience as a Romanian Jew during the Holocaust. It is profoundly sad. I can only internalize so much of his account before I become anxious and unsettled.

When I heard of the Connecticut massacre, of 20 children dying (seven adults, too) I was immediately sickened, physically nauseated by the senselessness of killing babies. You ask yourself, “How can this be? How can slaughtering innocence ever be contemplated, let alone acted upon? Why would this happen?”

That’s really not the question needing asked. But rather, how was this massacre perpetrated? (Answer: see assault weapons.)

The timeless question for our species is why is man so prone to violence, so willing to hurt and humiliate?

I was taken aback by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s observation on the Connecticut massacre that, “We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?” I found his comments both disgusting and surprising.

Surprising from the perspective that I thought, Huckabee, as an ordained Southern Baptist minister, would have emphasized that God is present everywhere and always. He suggests the contrary. That because prayers are not offered in public schools, what? Death and mayhem shall ensue?

As a non-believer in a personal god, I find such questions intriguing. In the 2011, visually stunning movie, Tree of Life, a character observes, “He sends flies to wounds he should heal.” He, of course, is God. It’s a legitimate observation to me. One, I imagine, discussed from church pulpits all over America last Sunday. It is a question that can only be finessed because that is exactly what the Old Testament God does time and time again.

It begs, however, the question, “Why?” I have questioned the existence of God ever since I was old enough to realize that really bad things happen to good people. Why? Where was God during the Holocaust? Or, during the Trail of Tears? Or, the Moro Massacre? Or, Sandy Hook Elementary School? Was God’s attention diverted, busy creating other universes? Discussing whom to smite with Archangels Gabriel and Michael? Was God on vacation?

I don’t think that is the case because if I were an omnipotent, omniscient, forever-always-present God, I would know that Adam Lanza would on December 14, 2012 systematically execute innocence. These children had no choice of “free will.” If I knew humanity was capable of the Holocaust, would I (God) not reasonably tweak ever so slightly my design of mankind?

Why were children massacred in Newtown? Because a mentally deranged man had ready access to assault weapons. He went off the reservation of “acceptable” human behavior.

No, a far better question is how was the act accomplished? To the degree we can identify and help the mentally ill is one issue, with what ease (how) we slaughter each other is quite another.
Happiness is not a warm gun. John Lennon knew that.

Mankind must remember that peace is not God’s gift to his creatures; peace is our gift to each other. Elie Wiesel

What now?

I See Republicans . . .

Recall the 1999 Bruce Willis movie titled The Sixth Sense. Out of that quite good little drama came the now famous line, “I See Dead People. And They Don’t Like You.” That catchy expression morfed into many variations but my t-shirt favorite went, “I Hear Voices . . . And They Don’t Like You.”

I’ve been trying to understand what is going on in the Republican Party when it comes to women, their bodies, sex and fertility. It’s essentially a male run concern, the Republican Party, although you have a predictable number of Republican women serving as faithful acolytes. Outliers, if you will, at odds, in their solidarity with their American sisters at large.

American women who willingly participate in their own subjugation remind me of those unfortunate women who perform the barbaric female genital mutilations in Sudan and Somalia. No woman, free of male domination (thinking), would voluntarily oppress other women in such ways.

It is as if Republican men are ignorant of history. For past 8,000 years, the male boot has been firmly placed on the neck of females. I do not know if we’ll ever understand the historical origins of why men came to consider women as “less” than men, but it is undeniable that that is/was the case. Bigger, more ferocious, men like to dominate.

Religions, too, historically, have played a tragic role in the marginalization of women. Although, interestingly enough, it was Martin Luther who, during the 16th century Reformation, jump-started the change in the status of women. He advocated that women be taught to read (imagine that!) and he married (radical idea: a married clergy). Educating women (reading) was the game-changer, however.

Go back and examine the status of Western women even during our more enlightened times. They were hardly enlightened for women. Plato’s Greece, The Renaissance, The Age of Reason were all unquestionably oppressive for women. In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft issued her now seminal A Vindication Of The Rights of Woman and the case for female equality was formally up for public discussion.

It took until the mid-19th century before British women could make any claim to personal property or even to her own wages. Reflect one second on this fact: the United States gave the right to vote to emancipated male slaves—SLAVES—decades before America’s daughters were afforded that right. That is how little women were considered.

There was a time in my grandmother’s adult life when she could not vote. Less than 100 years ago, American women could not vote. That is a nano-second ago, historically speaking.

The Republican Party is the party of female oppression. It revolves around who will control a woman’s sexuality and fertility. The Republican Party Platform (Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan) would have the government, for all intents and purposes, regulating and managing a woman’s uterus. Will our daughters someday—upon the onset of menses—be required to register their uteruses to ensure their compliance with state fertility laws?

Abortion, birth control, fertility, reproductive prerogatives are individual, fundamental female (human) rights. To interject the state into this dynamic is totalitarian and unacceptable.

Republicans would deny female autonomy, would continue to place the historical boot heel of oppression upon the necks of our daughters. Expect each American woman to think and act for herself.

I See Republicans . . . And They Don’t Respect Women.

Vote accordingly.

I Am A Liberal.

I am a liberal. Probably not your typical liberal as I genuinely do believe, “The cowards never started and the weak died along the way.” That’s an unattributed observation describing American pioneers who walked alongside their Conestoga wagons to Oregon in the 1840s.

I am a liberal who does not want to support other men’s children. I don’t. Do not have children you cannot afford or are unwilling to parent. That goes for the women associated with such men. Do not breed unless you have the wherewithal to support your progeny. Have the decency and self-respect to take care of you and yours.

That said I am a liberal who believes everyone who is here today is part of the Home Team. Everyone. Addled homeless war vets, too.

Children, however, do not ask to be born to mindless, irresponsible, impoverished (fiscally, emotionally, intellectually) parents. They arrive and as such it behooves us (America) as a culture to make sure that their parent’s “shortcomings” are not visited upon their progeny. To break the circle of poverty, we must invest in America’s mothers and in prenatal care. We must provide (encourage) safe, accessible and affordable birth control to limit the number born to impoverished Americans. Nutrition, housing, healthcare and education for all our children are societal obligations. Half measures, as are readily apparent, produce stunted children, ensuring that the cycle of poverty is perpetuated.

I am a liberal who does not believe “jobs” is the answer to “all” our problems. Our environment is crumbling (melting if you will) before our eyes. The coming havoc that is on our horizon—once thought to be a century away—may yet arrive fully realized in my lifetime. Half of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is dead or dying from acidification and rising oceanic temperatures. The Northwest Passage we all learned about in grade school will soon be a reality. Imagine the day—that will arrive—when the waters from the Himalayan glaciers no longer flow into India and China. Imagine when the Colorado watershed cannot sustain the populations of America’s West?

I am a liberal and I do not care one iota what religious beliefs you embrace in order to make sense of our world of sorrow. I laugh out loud at Christians who say Mormonism is nothing more than a bizarre sect. That getting your own planet upon death is just too far out, yet God sending Himself to be tortured, to die on a cross for our sins, only to be literally resurrected is somehow more believable.

I am a liberal who does care, however, if your religious beliefs impair the national conversation by limiting the discussion of how we rationally, reasonably address issues of climate change, environmental desecration, population control and women’s rights.

I am a liberal who feels too much humanity, too many hungry mouths at the trough is not some divine plan but a catastrophe building upon itself. Why, if America has so many impoverished—even in the best of economic times—why is another 200 million citizens acceptable population growth?

I am a liberal who believes “humans” are shortly out-of-the-trees (so to speak) and that we are quite nasty little monkeys still learning how to live harmoniously together as a species.
If we worship anything, it should be in our ability to rationally construct a better future. For all Americans.

I am a liberal and that just may not be in our cards (future).

What A Woman!

In the spring of 1988, while working at Winter Park Memorial Hospital, I received a phone call from the Executive Director of Crealdè telling me that a new newspaper was forming in Winter Park and looking for columnists. From that one fortuitous call, 2013 will mark 25 years that I’ve written a weekly Observer column. Over 1200 columns, approximately 650,000 words. It, the writing, has been incredibly rewarding at a personal level.

I could not foresee in 1988 how serendipitous, how valuable for the quality of my life writing for the Observer would become. Out-of-the-blue, I would be contacted by individuals who read my “stuff” and wanted to meet. I became so close with one such reader, John Fisher, that we met every Thursday for lunch for 17 years (nearly 800 lunches). What an immeasurable gift. I so miss Fisher and his acerbic wit. In 25 years I’ve developed over half-a-dozen such relationships, readers who became friends, folks I have vacationed with, people who changed my life.

This column is about one such person, Nancy Chambers. About eight or so years ago I received a call from a stranger who wanted me to come to her residence for a chat. She liked my “perspective” and wanted to compare notes on the world.

For a number of years back in the late 1990s I occasionally received humorously threatening, quite creative, anonymous postcards, mailed to the Observer recommending for example that, “Jepson should be used as roadfill for interstate potholes.” That’s a classic. Needless to say, I have a reluctance to meet anyone for the first time in their home. But I did with Nancy and what a gift.

She must have been 79 or 80 at the time. She’d had a stroke a few years earlier but had recovered nicely. Nancy was a lovely woman, the type of gal you just knew was stunning (Gorgeous!) in her physical prime. Diminutive in stature yet anything but demure in personality. She was outgoing, quick, witty and extremely well read. A bit of a flirt. We’d lunch and she’d laughingly say, “Sit down and tell me some gossip.” Nancy divorced three times, thought the institution (of marriage) vastly overrated yet was a hopeless romantic. She’d moved to Winter Park in the 1950s, a doctor’s wife. She had three accomplished sons she forever bragged-on. I met them all and she was right to feel pride in their lives and achievements.

And so with some regularity we’d lunch or have dinners at her residence. I invited her to parties I hosted. Sometimes after a lunch she’d recommend we’d go to the Thrift Shop on Canton and I still have a great cotton robe she insisted I buy for a buck and a half. Nancy knew value.

I was then serving on the Planned Parenthood board of directors when Nancy and I first met. She was an ardent feminist, pro-choice, a woman who understood that history had proved particularly challenging to assertive, strong-willed women. We attended a few PP events together. Nancy had one pronounced regret in life, that she didn’t finish college. She was of the last generation of American women who came of age experiencing “the” rigid societal ceiling for females—that motherhood was the only appropriate expression for what it means to be an accomplished woman.

Nancy Chambers died September 8 and I will dearly miss her enchanting, impassioned femininity in all its delightful manifestations. What a woman. What a gift.

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