March 1, 2021
The following piece ran in the April print edition of Newsmax Magazine.
Each year, the month of March is a time where we pause to reflect upon women’s history. Every president, Democrat and Republican alike, going back to 1980 has designated the annual 31-day celebration Women’s History Month by presidential decree.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate in recent years to have the opportunity to interview a number of prolific, inspiring and self-made women leaders on my program, Conversations with Nancy Brinker, on Newsmax television. Each story, more and more powerful than the one before.
It was not until recently, however, that I began to recognize a theme in public discourse. More and more free-thinking conservative women spanning the public, private and nonprofit sectors have found themselves “canceled” by the so-called “mainstream media.” We are sadly reaching the point in which female empowerment in the workplace requires the prerequisite of belonging to one party or ideology.
For years, our culture adopted preexisting stereotypes when it came to the objectification of women on everything from their body image to clothing style. As a past business executive turned international nonprofit leader and U.S. Ambassador, I saw this play out personally, in stunning detail. To get to the boardroom, you needed to look, act and think a different way. To garner public attention in the fight against breast cancer, we first needed to overcome the stigma of the disease. These preconceived notions of acceptability and fairness in society didn’t just prevent women from excelling in the workplace or earning a decent wage, it actually threatened their lives.
Thankfully, many of these outmoded perceptions from the past have been relegated to the dustbin of history (or episodes of Mad Men). That doesn’t mean that we’ve reached equality in upper levels of government or business management. According to the Wall Street Journal, women today lead 167 of the country’s top 3,000 companies. That’s more than double the share a decade ago, but still under 6 percent. Further, the new Congress – thanks in large part to Republican gains during the 2020 elections – includes more woman than at any point in history (122 in total), yet they only make up 27 percent of the Legislative Branch despite comprising half the U.S. population.
If society is going to truly empower women – all women – today, this effort cannot merely be achieved by meeting arbitrary workplace quotas or diversifying ad campaigns. A critical element must also be allowing each and every woman to express their ideology and perspective freely, without public shaming or cancelling. That includes liberals, moderates and, of course, self-identified conservatives.
For too long, conservative women have been ridiculed, discounted and relegated to second-tier status by progressives. This manifests routinely on the cover of magazines, how news is reported by national news outlets and also in pop culture. SNL routinely lionizes female Democratic-partisans and portray their Republican counterparts as air-headed bimbos.
I don’t mean to imply that Democratic females have not received their fair share of criticism. They certainly have. But whenever Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren are mocked, it’s national news media and blue checkmarks on Twitter that pearl-clutch, flock to their defense and decry misogynist culture. For every other personal attack on Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, Senator Susan Collins or our esteemed former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, we hear only crickets.
Women’s history month is as much about the present and future as it is the past. If we want to become a nation in which each individual is judged by their character, integrity and personal achievement, a good place to begin is by shedding cancel culture and elevating the voices of progress in our society, regardless of their ideology.