Photo courtesy: Marla Rutherford for WWE.com
“And though she be but little, she is FIERCE." – the apt description of Hermia in Shakespeare's “A Midsummer Night's Dream”
From their youngest days, I have empowered my daughters to never be less than their incredible selves. Similarly, I've always embraced being a woman and have found positive power in being one. Marilyn Monroe captured my feelings when she said, "I don't mind living in a man's world... as long as I can be a woman in it.” Ms. Monroe seemed to identify that truly singular light that it is to be a woman.
I tell Indiana and Mattigan that women are both the gateways and the gatekeepers in society. This is an awesome responsibility and revered role. Mother Nature is the juxtaposition to Father Time with an equally formidable domain.
"A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult." – Melinda Gates
The struggle for women to gain voice in the United States has been a long-standing battle that, in certain ways, continues today. From 1848-1920, there were brave voices demanding the same civil rights and political status as men. The suffrage movement, defined as "the right of voting; also: the exercise of such right" by Merriam-Webster, was born of the abolitionist movement of the 1830s.
Women were fighting for the right to vote, but it was more significant than that. Women were fighting to be acknowledged as equal human beings and deserving of equal access to education and employment, as well as equality within a marriage, ensuring a woman's right to her wages, her property, child custody and sole domain over her own body.
"Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women." – Maya Angelou
Susan B. Anthony is perhaps the most recognized name connected to women's suffrage and with good reason. She took a stand that could have cost her everything with a strategy that earned her a place in history. Anthony led a group of 16 women demanding they be allowed to register to vote in Rochester, N.Y., but it ended with all 16 being arrested. However, only Anthony faced trial, accused of violating the 14th Amendment.
So unjust was the judge presiding over Anthony's case that she was not permitted to take the stand and offer her own defense. Instead, Judge Hunt instructed the jury to issue a guilty verdict, which elicited a $100 fine. Anthony forced the judge's hand by refusing to pay the fine and requesting he put her in jail. Knowing that incarcerating Anthony would result in more attention to the suffrage movement, Judge Hunt never enforced his penalty.
Undeterred, Anthony continued her work toward women’s suffrage. In 1878, Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton arranged for Congress to be presented with an amendment giving women the right to vote. It later became known colloquially as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. It was ratified as the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920. Anthony left a legacy to all who followed in her courageous footsteps. She made an appearance in our home when Indy chose Anthony as her most admired historical figure: an “Ultimate Warrior Woman” shaking the ropes for equality.
"If you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito." – Anita Roddick
There is no more helpless feeling than feeling small. I'm not a big lady. My kids, who have grown into tall, strong, young women laughingly call me “Polly Pocket.” But never let my small stature fool you; I am fierce. Put my back against a wall or my children in peril, and I pity the fool who comes after me. I never knew how small I could feel in the world until I became a single mother. There's an entirely new vulnerability for a woman who is alone and solely in charge of the safety of her kids. It's treacherous. I never knew this until I had to know this.
I have never been a woman who felt a woman needed a man for validation or completion. I have proven this in the nearly four years I've stood alone, shepherding my little lambs from there to here. Still, I never knew the complexities of single motherhood or the wolf that comes to the door knowing you are alone. To every woman out there living her life on her own, you are a history-maker, and I commend you!! I salute you! I say, "Hey sister, I see you!!! You are not small, you are enormous! The spirit that takes on the world alone is formidable indeed!”
"I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels." – Maya Angelou
Every time I watch our female Superstars inside the ring, I think of this quote. Daring to take sports-entertainment to an entirely new level started way back with The Founding Mothers of Wrestling: Fabulous Moolah, Judy Grable and Mae Young. These ground-breaking women were followed in short order by Wendi Richter, Sensational Sherri, Sapphire and the universally adored Miss Elizabeth. We have witnessed the beauty, grit, and guts exhibited by Alundra Blayze, Trish Stratus, Jacqueline, Sable, Molly Holly, 2018 WWE Hall of Fame inductee Ivory, Chyna and Lita, some of whom graced the stage again at Raw’s 25th anniversary in January.
Today’s female roster, led by Charlotte Flair, Alexa Bliss, Asuka, Nia Jax, Becky Lynch, Natalya, Naomi, Sasha Banks and Bayley, is running full steam ahead toward shaking the ropes of history, igniting a revolution and leading an evolution for women in sports-entertainment in which they are the equal of the men – now called Superstars and not Divas.
"Women are the real architects of society." – Harriet Beecher Stowe
For every male executive I work with at WWE, there is a female executive counterpart. Although WWE may be perceived as a "male-dominated workplace," this perception is wrong. Linda McMahon was my first full-fledged role model in 1996. I was privileged to sit at tables with her and watch her in awe. I said very little; I listened quite a lot. I watched everything Linda McMahon did in business. She had an economy of words but an over-abundance of action. I imagine anyone who worked with her was equally impacted by her class, grace and even-keeled business management style. It is no wonder Stephanie McMahon bloomed into the executive she is today.
"I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear." – Rosa Parks
Noelle Trent of the National Civil Rights Museum offered us so much food for thought during Black History Month. In the videos, still available at community.wwe.com. Ms. Trent points out a large display of mugshots. In this array, she notes that Rosa Parks is not the first woman to be arrested, nor is she the last. Noelle shows our Superstars that she falls right in the middle. I loved Sasha Banks' chuckle as Ms. Trent points out the obvious: It had taken WOMEN to organize the civil disobedience that was the cornerstone for change.
The change these women wanted was scary; lives were on the line. Over the last four years, I have learned that not one thing in life worth doing isn't going to scare the pink polish off your nails ... do it anyway!!!
“All adventures, especially into new territory, are scary." – Sally Ride
I'm going to tell you a secret ... I ALWAYS thought I'd have boys. I thought surely I'd be a mom of four boys, and with my own infield, I'd get to the Oakland A’s one day. It never occurred to me that I'd have not one girl, but two! No pun intended, but, boy, I'm glad I didn't get to choose. The thought of raising daughters terrified me. It's a scary, mean world, and the thought of bringing girls into it felt daunting, even when their father was alive.
I had an epiphany before their birth ... I was the role model for warrior girls, and as such, I had to be nothing less than a “Warrior Woman.” This has served me as I have walked from my old life into the new. I have advocated for my own children as well as many others. I have been a friend and received the friendship of women. There's nothing more potentially powerful than a sorority of women championing one another through the final glass ceiling.
"The question isn't who's going to let me; it's who's going to stop me." – Ayn Rand
So, with this challenge, I enlist women and men in our WWE Universe to advance the natural evolution of women. Love and respect for our mothers, sisters and daughters is the foundation of life. Women are uniquely endowed with qualities that sustain civilization and propel us into an evolved future where we stand on the shoulders of all who came before.
Emily Dickinson provides my most treasured quote... my heart my prayer, my meditation, my unwavering belief ...
"I dwell in possibility,"
... Always! xo, d