I search daily for Extraordinary Women, whose stories I share with you through what I know, jewelry design. The 2019 Extraordinary Women collection will debut April 18th and is dedicated to women who did not get the credit they deserve for their life’s work. Women of Lost Fame.
John and I both love The Heights Theater in NE Minneapolis. Its history is woven into my childhood memories of Saturday afternoon movies and the amazing restoration not only brings me back but is much grander now than it ever was when I was a kid. We always get there 30 minutes before the show starts to soak up all this glitz as we watch the vintage Wurlitzer organ rise up from the floor. The organist does an amazing dance with both arms flying over the multiple rows of keys while his legs swing back and forth on the floor bass pedals. He plays tunes that make you expect Marilyn Monroe to glide down the aisle searching for a seat. So cool.
Another part of what we love about The Heights is that they show so many black and white classics. It's rare when a current movie sparks our interest but after reading a review on the new Glenn Close movie ‘The Wife’ and seeing it show up at our favorite theater, I knew we had to see it there.
The Wife, a 2003 novel by Meg Wolitzer, tells the story of the symbiotic relationship between a celebrated novelist and his wife-the supportive, invisible partner who takes her accustomed place in his shadow. The film opens with Joe receiving the news that he has won the Nobel Prize. His triumph prompts cracks in the veneer and we watch as she awakens to the uncomfortable, deeply suppressed truths of the lie they have been living as she sublimates her own literary career ambitions to serve his. Glenn Close sublimely captures Joan’s blend of determination and self-effacement. She is loving and resentful, supportive and repressed, fiercely intelligent and like a growing storm-is about to unleash a secret that she has held for too long.
As the viewer and a woman, I asked myself “Why the hell does she participate in this secret, and why can she not claim her own work, her own brilliance, her own originality and creation as HERS?”
Jocelyn Bell Burnell, an astrophysicist and member of the Extraordinary Women-Women of Lost Fame 2019 collection, may be the best one to answer my question. Bell Burnell, as a postgraduate student, discovered the first radio pulsars and although the discovery of neutron stars was hers, in 1967 her thesis supervisor was given the Nobel Prize.
52 years later, as a highly decorated scientist, Burnell encourages women to take the credit that is due to them and not feel they have to behave like She-males or We-men. She reminds us of the unconscious bias among women and prompts younger women who are still underrepresented in science fields to not think the battles have all been fought. She states that the limiting factor is CULTURE, not women’s brains, that all our roles have had to change, and that diversity is what is needed.
Bell Burnell suggests what will help women be better represented in science is to “make them braver and give them training.” Her attitude is not to change the men, but to fix the women. I don’t know about you, but this empowers me. It helps me frame it not a battle against men as much as a metamorphosis of society, a transformation of expected roles.
Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Rosalind Franklin, Margaret Keane, Tabitha Babbit, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Anna Hedgeman. These are just 6 of so many women whose life work was credited to another and I will be honored to tell you their stories.
And Ms. Close, a 6-time Oscar nominee but never a winner, was given the perfect platform to declare that, like her character Joan in The Wife, she will not be ignored or overlooked. You Go Glenn!