This month, my inbox was flooded with stories that spotlighted female empowerment. Each one I filed away and said, ‘Maybe next year.’ Largely because I spent the better part of this year dedicating columns to such themes. My inner voice, a guilt-ridden, green-eyed monster dude, said, “Enough already, with your woman hear me roar sentiments.” Never one to be accused of playing favorites, I put the stories aside. As a recovering Catholic, I’ve lived with this guilty guy on my back, forever. The naysayer who succeeds at shooting me down, instead of up, and clouds sound judgement with doubt and self-deprecation.
With the close of one year and dawning of the next I realize it might be time to retire the goulish gent in favor of a new stronger voice: my inner green-eyed goddess. The reality is, even if I were to weave symphonies of women’s empowerment through every one of my columns for the next five years, I wouldn’t come close to matching the number of articles, columns and TV commentary that have been dedicated to male counterparts, not only in the North Bay, but around the globe. So, I could set a New Year’s resolution to be more impartial in my column coverage. But here’s another thing about being raised Catholic. Fibbing is frowned upon. So, I will refrain from making bold declarations about steering clear of certain types of coverage, that I have no intention of honoring. Instead, I will let the topics that beg to be told—gender be damned—do the talking.
One of the emails I originally filed in my “save for later” folder was a note about the release of a new wine label, emBrazen. It was hard to ignore this email. Three silhouettes of vintage, trailblazing women stared back at me through my inbox: Josephine Baker, an entertainer and activist who refused to perform for segregated audiences during the civil rights movement; Nellie Bly, who shattered expectations for women in investigative journalism back in the late 1800s; and Celia Cruz, dubbed The Queen of Salsa, who following the Cuban revolution, became a symbol of artistic freedom. The tagline for emBrazen, which reads: “history unscrewed,” is snarky ad copy at its best likely meant to sell more wine. But for me, beneath the shiny sales speak, what it really says is, “watch out,” if we forget the battles of the past, we are doomed to repeat them.
emBrazen was crafted to spark conversation about the legendary women on the bottles and to bolster strong women’s voices through the Take up the Torch contest. The brand is the brainchild of the leadership team at Treasury Wine Estates (TWE), according to Patricia Montagno, vice president of marketing, “Female employees noticed that wine brands targeting female consumers are often floral or submissive, and that’s just not how we see ourselves. We felt it was our duty, as women, but more importantly, as women who are lucky enough to work in an industry where our brands touch countless consumers, to do something about it.”
The Take up the Torch program launched on Women’s Equality Day (August 26) as a tribute to trailblazing females with an invitation for powerful women of today, to carry the torch of empowerment forward. Consumers are encouraged to nominate women across the country who are driving change in their communities. The winning “game changer” will be awarded $25,000 to further her cause. Upon sampling, I found the wines to be as distinct and nuanced as the great dames embossed on the bottle. Smooth, structured, with a taste (and message) that lingers long after the last sip.
In November I was invited to High-Powered High Heel’s, an event led by Hall Wines owner, Kathryn Hall. The female-focused roundtable was moderated by Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino who steered the conversation to topics related to the shattered ceiling concept, the current political climate, and women’s roles in male dominated industries. Sorvino was joined by actress Annie Starke, technical Emmy Award winner LeShelle May, founder and chief executive officer of the luxury fashion brand Maris Collective, Lee Ann Sauter. Each shared perspectives on the evolution of female empowerment and how the past informs our future. I’ll share more take aways from the session over the coming months.
In the North Bay, 2018 has been about rebuilding our homes and communities in the wake of the wildfires that pillaged our land. In our country, it has been a year about restoring faith in democracy and fighting for equality when those tenants of society have felt threatened.
As for 2019, I will borrow Josephine Baker’s prolific and timeless words, “To realize our dreams, we must decide to wake up.”
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