Tales of Two Women

Two women whose stories are completely unrelated (except perhaps in their similar insistence on living life by their own lights) but I found both rather fascinating.

Patricia Heaton

Patricia Heaton has managed to carve out a successful career in an industry that doesn’t much cotton to pro-life Christians. Tony Rossi captures some of her essence and energy:

Reason played an important part in the development of Heaton’s pro-life views. She learned to articulate her position when she moved to New York at the start of her career and had to start defending it because she was in the minority. It forced her to ask herself, “Where are we going to demarcate ‘life starts here’? If you do it anywhere other than conception, you just get into a huge amount of trouble and it doesn’t make any sense logically. So I think there’s a very reasoned way to be pro-life.”

Gloria Wasserman aka Annie

Less famous than Heaton, except among the fishmongers of New York City, Gloria Wasserman, aka “Shopping Cart Annie” has her unusual life profiled in a beautifully-wrought, almost lyrical piece by Dan Barry of the New York Times:

For several decades, Annie was the profane mother of the old Fulton Fish Market, that pungent Lower Manhattan place fast becoming a mirage of memory. Making her rounds, running errands, holding her own in the blue banter, she was as much a part of this gruff place as the waxed fish boxes, the forklift-rocking cobblestones, and the cocktail aroma of gasoline, cigarettes and the sea.

Some ridiculed and abused her; others honored and protected her. Young men new to the market were occasionally advised to make acquaintance with Annie’s prodigious breasts; kiss them for good luck. And the veterans, young men once, often slipped her a dollar, maybe five, for a copy of a fresh tabloid; pay her for good luck.

Young and old, they all had heard that the faded color photograph on display at Steve DeLuca’s coffee truck — of a striking young woman, a raven-haired knockout in a two-piece bathing suit, running barefoot against a glorious sky — was of Annie in her younger days, decades before her dark fish-market terminus. But some could not see the coffee-truck goddess in this bent woman at shadow’s edge, clutching the handle of the shopping cart she used to hold wares and provide balance, wearing a baseball cap, layers of sweaters, and men’s pants, navy blue, into which she had sewn deep, leg-long pockets to keep safe her hard-earned rolls of bills.

On consideration, both of these women have lived very feminist lives in ways that the feminist “movement” would either proclaim as “fake” (in the first) or consigned to weak victimhood (in the second). But weakness does not stand up straight and say, “I yam who I yam” quite so forcefully.

Read the whole thing; spend a little time this weekend getting to know these women, and think about how fearfully made we are, and how individually…

Thanks to Deacon Greg for the heads up on Barry’s moving and exceptional bit of writing.

Speaking of feminism: Western feminism seems unwilling to speak up on a true injustice.

But I liked

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • http://sisu.typepad.com Sissy Willis

    I think there is a profound link between your two women who “have lived very feminist lives” that the feminist “movement” would not recognize as such and Bristol Palin (Thanks for the “O/T” link!).

    As with her mother, Bristol’s fierce and fearless brand of feminism — unrecognizable to and unrecognized by practitioners of the man-hating, postmodern brand of identity-politics feminism — was forged in the fires of a frontier upbringing and, more recently, in facing the savage personal assault on all things Palin by the “progressive” “gentry” (that is SO acu tetigisti).

  • Jeff

    Her mother is absolutely hitting it out of the park on CNN. She is kicking Obama’s ass all over the place. Genuinely funny lines, and very good substance. She connects.

    And my Lord she is good looking.

  • http://fkclinic.blogspot.com tioedong

    I suspect “Shopping cart Annie” has simple schizophrenia and alas is allowed to wander neglected on our streets because of simplistic ideas that she “chose” to live that way, not that she is so mentally ill that she can’t manage to live any other way.

    this type of ignorance allows conservatives to save money (they don’t have to give welfare or social services for these poor folks) and of course pleases liberals from the ACLU, whose lawsuits “allowed’ the mildly retarded to wander the streets and be sexually exploited or end up in jail for petty crime, and the simple schizophrenics to be deinstitutionalized without a social umbrella to make sure they take their medicine.

    feminism? no way.

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  • Jennifer

    @tioedong: Did you even READ the article before commenting?! I’m going to conclude that you didn’t. Shopping Cart Annie had a real job, making real money and had a place to stay. She provided for her family and led the life she wanted to live. But how would you know that? You didn’t read the story.
    To make baseless conclusions before doing research is wrong.

  • newton

    Gloria Wasserman reminded me, in a small way, of my aunt. She would live in an apartment in the Bronx that was old and run down, with no real wood or laminate flooring, no real heat or AC unit, yet she would give of her salary to my relatives, including me. For all of that, she ended up with only temp jobs around her fifties, a move to CA and more misery (including a stroke), and breast cancer in her 60s.

    Just recently, she talked to my mother and told her about all that had happened since then, and my mother advised her to return to New York, “because your friends all live there.” I don’t know if her old friends from her youth are still living, but after reading Wasserman’s obit, I would understand perfectly why my own aunt would ever want to return to New York and leave Southern CA behind.

  • Greta

    feminist are defined by being pro abortion. Anything that does not meet this litmist test is denied. This of course is also true of the democratic party and thus this social evil which has caused the death of 50 million babies ranks right up there with the decades that party supported slavery, civil war, and lynching of blacks in acts of terror designed to deny them the civil rights provided them in the constitution 14th amendment. The right of privacy of course allows the justices a fig leaf for the murder of infants and also for the supposed right for gay marriage.

  • Katherine

    Saddened that both Ms. Heaton and Ms. Palin, baptized as Catholics, abandoned the faith of their youth.

  • Andrew B

    I think the problem with modern feminism is one of defining terms. We are told to admire “strong” women like Hillary Clinton, but I don’t believe that “strong” is the correct word. I believe that women such as Hillary are “hard”, not “strong.” A strong woman would never serve as a man’s doormat for 35 years.

    My grandmother raised two boys in the worst of the Depression after her husband left her. My mother grew up in without shoes or indoor plumbing during the Dust Bowl, worked in a bomber plant during WW2 and used the money to put herself through the University of Chicago. But neither was a feminist, so they would never get credit for being “strong.”

  • http://thesilloftheworld.blogspot.com/ HKatz

    I suspect “Shopping cart Annie” has simple schizophrenia and alas is allowed to wander neglected on our streets

    Is your suspicion of ‘neglect’ and ‘schizophrenia’ based on having read the article? I mean, the whole article?

    It doesn’t do to reduce someone to a psychiatric disorder (though people like to seem clever and knowing, by doing so) – and to say she shouldn’t have been “allowed to wander the streets” as if she didn’t know where she was, or what she was doing, when in fact the evidence was strongly to the contrary. I suppose if you personally don’t understand someone’s life choices, it must mean they’ve got a problem and need to be confined? That language – allowed to wander the streets; like you’re talking about a dog without a leash.

  • brad

    The stereotypical Western feminist cannot spell feminism let alone understand its essence.

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  • dymphna

    Palin didn’t abandon Catholicism. Her parents left when she was either a baby or a small child. She’s never lived as a Catholic.

  • dymphna

    Tioedong, you should’ve read the article. Annie chose to live her hard life. I guesss she just couldn’t fit into a nice middle class matron’s life.

  • expat

    Tioedong clearly would have preferred to have Annie incarcerated/warehoused in some hell-hole of a psychiatric unit, being chemically lobotomized by drugs — instead of living freely the life she chose, earning a living, hurting no one.

    And, by the way, as a former psychiatric nurse, there is no evidence from this article that Annie was schizophrenic.

  • c matt

    I believe that women such as Hillary are “hard”, not “strong.”

    Or callous. They seem to lack a certain amount of the minimum human empathy that most people have. Makes them very cutthroat and ruthless.