Washington’s women

If you don’t have a Facebook feed that’s blowing up with friends’ opinions about the election and links to every kind of debate analysis, you probably don’t have a pulse.

I once loved election years (which is partly why I wrote my master’s thesis on political rhetoric), but my interest has waned someone in the past four years. The tedium, repetition and futility are disheartening. It’s a sweeping 180 for a girl who once considered entering public service.

Because it’s Friday, and because I love all two of you who will read this, I’d like to offer a respite from the partisan storm. While my fascination with today’s big boys has faded, I’m still intensely fascinated by the women who have changed the cultural landscape behind the scenes as well as in their own deliberate choices. Some of them questionable.

Here’s to the ladies who really pack a punch.

Ana Marie Cox. Photo from en.wikipedia.org.

Ana Marie Cox. Because someone had to blaze the trail for sarcastic women in 21st-century Washington.

Chandra Levy. Photo from dcist.com.

Chandra Levy. A smart girl from California who probably didn’t plan to sleep with a married lawmaker. It just happened, right? She had a lot going for her — money, education, connections — but what was apparently a random crime cut her life short. Note to self: Don’t jog alone in Rock Creek Park. And don’t sleep with married lawmakers.

Katharine Graham. AP file photo by Ruth Fremson.

Katharine Graham. Just how many literary and film characters have been based on her, anyways? Graham managed to serve as an exemplar for ambitious women in an era when few women had leadership roles in journalism while still embodying old-guard Washington society.

Monica Lewinsky. Photo from http://www.tvrage.com.

Monica Lewinsky. Another smart girl who didn’t appear to have a lick of common sense. Who knew that a somewhat promiscuous 23-year-old’s actions would spur a so-called national crisis in the late 1990s? Sadly, it was actually a more innocent time. Today, we’re a jaded bunch, we Americans. And Monica is persona non grata, while Bill Clinton is once again a rock star. I’ll stop before this turns into a stereotypical rant about stereotypes.

Sally Quinn. Photo from en.wikipedia.org.

Sally Quinn. A blueblood who elbowed her way into Washington society, snagging a job at the Washington Post without any past writing experience (and Ben Bradlee along the way). She became a failed TV anchorwoman, renowned party host, owner of Grey Gardens and snubber of Hillary Clinton.

As the inimitable Elaine Stritch sang, “I’ll drink to that!” Where would Washington be without the ladies?


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