Love her or hate her, there’s no denying that Rosie O?Donnell has broken a lot of barriers on the road to success, both personal and professional.
She succeeded as a woman in the male-dominated stand-up comedy world. She went on to host a successful Emmy-winning daytime talk show. She has also faced–and overcome–the obstacles presented by being part of a same-sex couple who has adopted children.
Which makes it all the more surprising that, as a strong, independent, outspoken (like I said, love her or hate her) woman, she would suggest that one of the strongest female role models in public life should retire because of her age.
In a recent news article, MSNBC reports that in O?Donnell’s upcoming memoir, Celebrity Detox, the comedian says that journalist Barbara Walters should ?step back? from her job.
According to the article, O?Donnell writes that ?At some point, a person gets tired. It’s inevitable. Barbara Walters is almost twice my age . . . at some point it becomes necessary to step back? (1).
The most remarkable thing about a statement like this is that, without the barriers that Barbara Walters and other women of her generation have fought against–and in many cases removed–the younger women that followed in their stead would, arguably, not have had as many opportunities open to them.
And in a world where billions of girls and women still have no legal rights, are not allowed to vote, have no access to education, and are looked at as little more than disposable property, the successes of positive female role models should be celebrated–especially when they have years, even decades, of experience to share.
In our youth-obsessed culture, an age of dime-a-dozen Britneys and Christinas, we should be celebrating women who have achieved success by their brains, and who, precisely because of their years in the trenches, still have a hell of a lot to say and accomplish.
The same goes for males, but there are far fewer women in the halls of power–law, government, business–than men. If women are ever to achieve true equality (even in countries that still treat them like chattel), strong, experienced women like Barbara Walters are exactly the role models we need.
Women like Jane Goodall, who at 73 inspires people the world over through her ongoing work with wildlife at the Jane Goodall Institute, including her Roots and Shoots program and many initiatives in Africa.
Women like Gloria Steinem, 72, whose many years of experience give a credibility and depth to her ongoing work as a writer, lecturer, and activist in the women’s movement.
And yes, women like 77-year-old Barbara Walters, whose years on the front lines of journalism bring a finely honed touch to her interviews with world figures.
Maybe, just maybe, It’s time to adjust the view through those Rose-coloured glasses.
(1) MSNCB, 2007. ?O?Donnell says Barbara Walters should retire.? Retrieved September 14, 2007, from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20729470/