Matt Krauss: Four women who have earned my admiration

This commentary is by Matt Krauss of Stowe, a happily retired state employee and former Vermont legislator. 

One way you can judge a person is by those they adore. Here are four women I adore and why.

  • Camille Paglia is an American feminist who is unafraid to write what she believes and could care less what her critics say. 

She might be described as a supremely courageous example of an unfettered writer during the time of cancel culture and political correctness. You cannot read her writings without thinking and viewing a subject in a new and refreshing way. 

She defends and openly appreciates what men provide to this world. Have Vermonters heard any similar pronouncements from prominent Vermont women lately? Are they expressing that appreciation and support openly and publicly, as Camille does? 

Camille believes you can have a reform movement “without stereotyping, belittling, or demonizing men.” She notes and appreciates all the dangerous, dirty and needed blue-collar work predominantly done by men. Most of that work goes unacknowledged and underappreciated in today’s world. 

She honors those husbands, boyfriends and partners who go about the business of working hard to raise and provide for their families. Do you think she would accept the perceived need to send Vermont men to reeducation/training sessions that foster more enemies than supporters?  The shock of a feminist woman defending traditional masculine traits is both ironic and appreciated. She proves the undeniable fact that not everyone sees their gender, sexuality, ethnicity or race as the most important part of who they are. 

  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Black scholar, feminist, and author chosen to Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. 

She speaks six languages, is on al-Qaeda’s hit list and was forced to go into hiding to protect her life. She actively fights against honor killings, child marriage, arranged marriages, and female genital mutilation. Those practices are real impediments to women advancing in most of the world. 

Female genital mutilation is a particularly vile practice where a young girl’s clitoris is “scrapped” or cut off. Ayaan Hirsi Ali had the procedure performed on her as a 5-year old girl. Most people would imagine such a practice has been relegated to history’s wastebasket of the world’s most barbaric practices. They would be wrong. The practice is still found in some Asian, African and Middle East countries. Can Vermont parents imagine taking their young daughter to someone for this procedure? 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was also nominated for the Nobel peace prize. The word courageous is overused; read her history. Tell me if she fits the description.

  • Tulsi Gabbard is a former Democratic congresswoman from Hawaii. She is also the first Hindu member of Congress.

Hawaii is bluer than Vermont, yet elected a political moderate. Tulsi ran in the Democratic presidential primary and was vice chair of the Democratic National Committee.

She is a military veteran who enlisted and served her nation proudly during overseas deployments. She was the target of a smear campaign describing her as a Russian asset. By the way, no member of  Vermont’s congressional delegation, no Vermont statewide elected official, the House speaker or the Senate president pro tempore have ever served in the military. If Hawaii can elect a woman of her attributes, I wonder if a veteran woman can someday proudly be elected Vermont’s next U.S. senator, governor or secretary of state. 

Tulsi was part of a bipartisan group seeking oversight and accountability of the nation’s intelligence communities to protect and uphold Americans rights. She recently said, “This administration has used race and identity politics to divide us, our freedom of speech and civil liberties are under assault, inflation is going through the roof, and we’ve got open borders.” Speaking truth to power?

  • My final woman was a normal, typical American of the greatest generation, raised on a farm with eight siblings. She married a returning GI and had four children in five years. 

Soon after, she was diagnosed with bipolar disease, was institutionalized, treated by electroshock therapy and massive amounts of psychotropic drugs. Later in life, she battled the illness to a draw with the assistance of lithium. She broke the terrible grip of the illness to become a functioning and happy woman. 

She wasn’t a public figure. Yet she had had some real achievements, like providing all four children a college education. And, she endured the heart-wrenching trauma of burying her oldest son, a truly terrible event for a parent. She was a rare individual who wouldn’t hurt a fly, displaying loving kindness toward everyone. 

Her battles with private demons played out on a planet ill designed for those who feel and act instinctively with compassion and kindness. She went to heaven many years ago, peacefully resting next to her beloved husband. From the boy I was to the man I became, I will always be in her debt. 

Some measure success by money and distantly conferred accolades. Motherhood is much more. To bear a child, raise it, and send it into a harsh world — that’s a real achievement. And the continuing foundation of an enduring, civil and functioning society. Isn’t that the truest measure of lasting success?

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