If there’s one thing we’ve learned from our trailblazing feminist fore mothers, it’s that there is a profound power in a united front. Accomplished Author, Journalist, and Activist Marianne Schnall affirmed the power of this concept. Women in Business was lucky enough to host Ms. Schnall recently, who shared not only her own fascinating path, but also what she has learned from the many influential women that she has developed relationships with over the years through her founding in and involvement of Feminist.com along with the creation of her books, Daring to be Ourselves and What Will It Take to Make a Woman President? Conversations About Women, Leadership & Power. Ms. Schnall carries with her an air of easy confidence that matches her laurels. A graduate of Cornell University with a BA in English, Schnall knew that she wanted to be a writer from a young age. She uses her skills to inspire others, and it is clear that she has spun quite a powerful web of women: her interviewees include Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Sandberg, Maya Angelou, Nancy Pelosi, Anita Hill, and many others.
The necessity of a web of strong women is no more clearly emphasized than in Schnall’s own life. She shared with us her close relationships with fellow influential feminists, including the Queen herself Gloria Steinem (whose birthday was the day after Schnall’s visit) and visionary Eve Ensler, author of the Vagina Monologues. Both women are supporters of Schnall’s internet-baby, Feminist.com. A hub of revolutionary fervor, Schnall’s website is run by “the folks who put the dot-com in Feminism,” according to Steinem. It’s proof that we are capable of amazing things when we put our heads together, and was started in 1995 by Schnall and a few of her friends in her New York City Apartment. The Advisory Board of Feminist.com is not playing, it boasts powerhouse names like Alice Walker and Jane Fonda, who was featured in Marianne’s first book, Daring to Be Ourselves. But Feminist.com’s accessibility proves that whether you are a famous feminist or regular (but still fabulous) college student, everyone has the power to contribute to the movement.
A frequent topic of Marianne’s presentation was the importance of not only female collaboration, but also universal solidarity. Schnall emphasized the importance of men in the fight for gender equality, and that many men are starting to realize that women’s once-muffled voices are necessary during our turbulent day and age. This is no more evident than in the political arena, a historically male-dominated space. In her newest book (published in November 2013) Schnall looks to crack the glass ceilings that have prevented women from having a powerful voice in our government. She shared that she was inspired by a question from her then-eight year old daughter, Lotus, during the election of Barack Obama, who asked at the dinner table, “Why haven’t we ever had a women president?” While the book is focused on politics, it also has a larger goal: to encourage girls and women to step up the plate and not be afraid to lead. Sound familiar, WIBers?
Even though we are strong, independent women, it’s still important to have fun and embrace our femininity. One of my favorite quotes from Schnall’s talk was from Madeleine Albright, who says that she still looks for the cutest guy in the room at a party to go talk to. Cheers, sister!