Costa: Whine, Women and Conservatives

Thursday, April 03, 2014


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We just closed out Women’s History Month 2014! Although there is hint of springtime swirling in the April air it seems the gains of women over time and through the efforts of activism and feminism don’t sit well with all the gals, particularly the conservatives. Just last week the Heritage Foundation hosted a forum entitled, “Evaluating Feminism, Its Failures, and Its Future.” and conservative, female speakers took the chance to stick their collective thumbs in the eye of feminism. At the conference the conservative columnist Mona Charen chided, “Millions of women have taken feminist advice, and it has led to unparalleled misery.”

Did she really say that?

Oh, yes she did!

I feel a little like De Niro, “Are you talkin to me?” Rather presumptuous to speak so boldly for millions of women, no?

Take that you feminist…

The assault on feminism was on full view and the barbs flew with sharpened tips aimed directly at the efforts of girls to move forward. No secret here, I am a “Lean In”, “Ban Bossy” kind of gal.

The likes of Sheryl Sandberg, Arianna Huffington, Mika Brzezinski and Maria Shriver are some of the women who make the authoritative case for the empowerment of girls and women. Setting the example of how to pay it forward by mentoring and assisting girls and even women who have been carelessly passed over in life. It was made clear that for many of the conservative women at the Heritage forum, gender is irrelevant on many levels.

Conservative Columnist Mona Charen stated, “It doesn’t interest me whether a person who happens to share my chromosomes sits in the Oval Office. It doesn’t interest me how many women members of the Senate there are.”

And while that may be fine for her, it is not fine for me, as the policies which impact women are drafted and carried out in both institutions. And, more and more women are a big part of the results at the ballot box, so perhaps that is what has the “Heritage gals” all in a lather. The topics of date rape, marriage and real family values rolled right off the tongues of the panelists.

You would think that after the comments of Representative Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock revolving around rape the conservatives particularly conservative women would stay out of that fray. But, at the Heritage Forum, Mona Charen jumped in with both feet, putting forth criticism of college campus behavior, when she stated in part, “where hooking up is considered normal and date rape is difficult to prevent.” Mona FYI, I am pretty sure date rape is still the fault of the rapist. But, I guess that is why according the the Heritage gals, you simply must be married, you know the good old fashioned nuptials, It’s a cure all.

Hitch yourself to success

I found so much of the commentary coming from the forum stunning. Unfortunately, at the heart of these positions is politics. President Obama carried unmarried women in the last election by 36 percentage points. So logically, if more chicks tie the knot, they may move toward the right. Right? Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist and Heritage panelist said in part, “Marriage has enabled elites to have a lot of money and stability. We should show concern in extending marriage to everybody so that everybody can benefit. Everybody go out right now, if you’re not married, go get married and that will solve all these problems.” So girls throw away the books, grab your high heels and go snag yourself a hubby. Just think you can mix the martinis, whip up a Chateaubriand and greet your mad man at the door. Problems solved!

If this is the position of conservative women, I feel as if I just stepped into the Wayback Machine with Mr. Peabody and Sherman as Peabody barks, “Sherman set the Wayback Machine for 1959. “You know it was a time when men were men and women were home, (barefoot and pregnant). “Peabody where are you taking us?” I query. “211 Pine Street, Mayfield, Ohio." He replies “Oh no will Eddie Haskell be there? Please Peabody take us forward to 714 Delaware Street, I know Roseanne can help!”

The time to go back is done, we must move forward empowering our girls and celebrating our victories. Make no mistake along the road I have encountered women who lay land mines, set up fellow females and are just plain jerks, luckily the older I get the less they exist. Feminism is doing something right. For me a favorite Sandberg quote is still:

“There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women.” - Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In


Carol Costa is a public relations and community outreach specialist; she has experience in both the public and private sectors. She is the Chairwoman of the Scituate Democratic Town Committee and has extensive community affairs and public relations experience. She previously served in the Rhode Island Judiciary for nearly 17 years. Carol also enjoyed a successful development stint at the Diocese of Providence as Associate Director for Catholic Education and is currently the Executive Director of the Warren Housing Authority. Her work has been published in several local outlets including GoLocal, Valley Breeze, The Rhode Island Catholic, and Currents Magazine.


Related Slideshow: Women Leading in Rhode Island

Who are some of Rhode Island's high-level female bosses?  GoLocal takes a look at some of the leading women in the state in their respective industries, in the private and nonprofit sector. 

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Carolyn Rafaelian


The founder and Creative Director of Alex and Ani, Rafaelian started the company in 2004 to produce jewelry to “adorn the body, enlighten the mind, and empower the spirit.”  

Prior to founding Alex and Ani, Rafaelian produced designs for and co-owned Cinerama, her father’s jewelry manufacturing company.  Now, in addition to Alex and Ani, Rafaelian owns Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard, and the café franchise Teas and Javas.  Rafaelian received the 2012 Rhode Island Small Businessperson of the Year Award as well as Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the products category for New England.

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Cheryl Merchant


Merchant is the CEO and President of Hope Global, an engineered textile solutions company centered in Cumberland with plants and sales offices all over the world. 

Merchant began her career as a production supervisor at General Motors, then worked at Mazda, Ford Motor Company, and Lear Corporation, and managed manufacturing plants in Mexico, Canada, Poland, England, and America.  

In addition to her work with Hope Global, Merchant is an active member of the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, the Rhode Island Commodores, and the Governor’s Economic Development Council, and is a trustee of Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council.

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Cheryl Snead


Snead is the CEO of Banneker Industries, Inc., a supply chain management company in North Smithfield that has performed e-procurement, assembly, packaging, inventory management, warehousing and distribution services since its founding in 1991.

Snead has served as state delegate on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council and received the 2009 New England Businesswoman of the Year Award and Women Business Enterprise National Council Star Award, among numerous others in year prior.  She now serves on the Board of Directors of AMICA Insurance Company and is a member of the Rhode Island Commodores.

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Cheryl Zimmerman


Zimmerman is the CEO and Chairman of the Board for FarSounder Inc., a Warwick based company specializing in sonar technology and born of Zimmerman’s achievement in the 2002 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition. 

Since its inception, the company’s sales have grown exponentially and it has expanded to different markets within the nautical navigation industry. 

Previously, Zimmerman has run numerous other businesses including a company for wholesale book selling and one for engineering services. 

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Christina Paxson


The nineteenth President of Brown University, Paxson had previously served as Dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Chair of its economics department, as well as Director and founder of an NIA Center for the Economics and Demography of Aging. 

Paxson is an expert in public health, having conducted research on childhood health, AIDS in Africa, and Hurricane Katrina, among other topics. 

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Laurie White


White, the President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce,  previously served as its Senior Vice President, and an executive counselor to the Governor in policy and communications.  She is dedicated to strengthening the business community in Providence with focus on employment and retaining young, talented professionals to work in the state.  

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Nancy Carriuolo


Dr. Carriuolo is the ninth President of Rhode Island College.  She has previously served as the Director of the Office of School/College Relations at NEASC and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences the University of New Haven. 

She has written over thirty publications, featured in, among others, The Chronicle of Higher Education and Education Week.  In 2009, she was named a CLADEA fellow, and she has served on the boards of many organizations, including the Journal of Developmental Education and New England Dollars for Scholars.

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Sally Lapides


Lapides is the co-founder, President, and CEO of Rhode Island real estate firm Residential Properties.  

Lapides has been quoted in many local and national publications as a real estate specialist.  During her career, Lapides has served on the boards at the RISD Museum, Roger Williams University, Smith Hill Center, and Trinity Repertory Company, among others -- and as Chair of the Board of the Rhode Island Foundation’s Equity Action Campaign Committee, helped raise a million dollars for the Fund for the LGBT community.

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Sandra Pattie


Pattie, the CEO and President of BankNewport and OceanPoint Financial Partners, MHC, began her career with the bank in 1984 as a consumer loan officer, rising through ranks and across different areas of expertise. 

Pattie is a board member of the United Way of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Bankers Association as well as a trustee of the Community College of Rhode Island.  She is also a certified financial planner and a member of the Board of Governors for Newport Hospital.

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Trudy Coxe


Coxe is the Executive Director and CEO of the Preservation Society of Newport County.  Before holding this position, Coxe served as the Massachusetts Secretary of Environmental Affairs, Executive Director of Rhode Island’s Save the Bay, and Director of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  

Coxe has received numerous awards for her business success, including the 2011 Business Women Award for Overall Career Achievement from the Providence Business News.  She also does extensive volunteer work, including sitting on the boards of Grow Smart Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Commodores.  She also serves on the Advisory Board of the Conservation Law Foundation and the Alumni Board of the Wheeler School.


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