Last Saturday, we had the extreme pleasure of listening in as Madeleine Albright informally conversed with students at the MINT Museum Uptown about life, love and public service. Secretary Albright was in town to help kick off her “Read My Pins” exhibit and book tour, part of MINT’s activities surrounding the Democratic National Convention.
During the Q&A, I asked a question that comes to mind when I think of Madame Secretary’s accomplishments. A mother of three, how in the world did she do it?
This was apparently a question that she gets a lot, and talked about the phases of life and the sentiment that you can “have it all,” just not all at the same time. She talked about the glass ceiling and some chauvinistic men who stood in her way, and men who helped her. She also talked about women. Women who supported her, like Hillary Clinton. And, those who didn’t.
“There’s a special place in Hell for women who don’t help other women,” she declared. And, by “don’t help,” she’s referring to women who block the efforts of other women with their judgments and negative attitudes. Man, do I agree. I’ve always wondered why women – moms in particular – can be our own worst enemies. It makes me crazy. C.R.A.Z.Y.
Debates about staying at home or going to work – out of choice, or necessity. Breastfeeding or bottlefeeding – out of choice, or necessity. Public school, private school, home school. Who are we to judge each other? What will it take for women to accept each other – and our individual choices on how we raise our families and live our lives?
It was against this framework that my young daughter and I explored the pin exhibit. It’s extraordinarily accessible to kids – Which one do you like? Why? Look – there’s a cool story to go along with it! While I went with my daughter, this isn’t a “girls-only” event. There are enough spider pins and military-related pins to keep boys interested. Girl-power aside, Madame Secretary is a force to be reckoned with in her own right.
I didn’t expect the flashy pins to have such an emotional effect on me, but they did. They say so much more than butterfly or tiger or flag or heart. They convey sentiments, loud and clear, without saying a word. In the carpool lane, in the doctors office, in the grocery store or at work…what messages do we send to our sisters in arms?
The “Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection” exhibit at the MINT Museum Uptown runs through September 23. For more information, visit http://www.mintmuseum.org