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Editorial March 2006
21st Century Women

by Hilary Williamson

In Doughty Heroines, disappointed by the oft wimpy portrayal of women on the silver screen, I asked the question, 'Where have all the gutsy women gone?' I found plenty of feisty, unconventional, opinionated, mettlesome women populating fictional pages. But indomitable women live real lives too, and have done all through history - as presented in Vicki Leon's Uppity Women of Ancient Times and Barbara Holland's They Went Whistling.

In the 21st century, women continue to take on extraordinary challenges, survive terrible ordeals, or simply continue their daily run through the marathon of life. Let's read about some of them.

Norwegian Liv Arnesen and American Ann Bancroft, 'enchanted with the idea of facing the same test (as the earlier male explorers)' decided to become the first all-female team to cross Antarctica. They dared to live their dream, and inspired millions of schoolchildren along the way - No Horizon Is So Far tells their story. Another first, and equally demanding challenge for women is achieving the U.S. Presidency. Dick Morris & Eileen McGann explore that possibility in Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race.

In Womankind: Faces of Change Around the World, Donna Nebenzahl & Nance Ackerman share photographs and profiles of 45 women activists - 'ordinary people ... moved to do extraordinary things'. They take on big problems like AIDS, pollution and war, and succeed in making a difference. Many voices in Womankind offer hope in the midst of horror. Similarly, Souad, the victim of an honor crime (and how inappropriate is that term for an act so dishonorable) speaks against the injustice of customs that victimize women in Burned Alive.

Of course, women's strength shows up, not only in the taking on the big challenges and crises, but in dealing with the smaller ups and downs of everyday life, and their marathon roles of raising children and caring for the elderly, while carrying on other responsibilities. In A Day in the Life of the American Woman: How We See Ourselves, Sharon Wohlmuth, Carol Saline and Dawn Sheggeby pay tribute to a broad spectrum of such ordinary women, who live heartening and inspiring lives.

Where have all the gutsy women gone? They're to be found often in fiction, occasionally at the movies, and always in the real world ... read their stories in books like those mentioned here, and even better, look around you.
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