11 Mar Women’s History Month: Toody Maher on Women Past and Present
Interview, Richmond Pulse | Photo via Richmond Confidential
EDITOR’S NOTE: In honor of Women’s History Month, Richmond Pulse asked prominent local women to weigh in on the topics of role models, the #MeToo movement, feminism and gender equality.
We spoke with Gayle McLaughlin, former Richmond mayor and current candidate for Lt. Governor; Toody Maher, executive director and founder of Pogo Park; Kimberly Aceves, executive director of RYSE Center; Betty Reid-Soskin, author the new autobiography, Sign My Name to Freedom: A Memoir of a Pioneering Life; and Ada Recinos, Richmond City Councilmember.
RP: When you were a little girl, did you have a female role model? If so, what about her inspired you? How does she inspire you today?
Toody Maher: When growing up, I did not have a female role model. Not one! Isn’t that crazy? That says a lot: the world I experienced was a world defined entirely by men. Where are the statues of women? Where are the buildings, the cities, the public squares designed by women? Where are women’s faces on currency?
RP: We’re still learning the stories of so many great women of the past. Is there a historical woman that you recently learned about?
TM: Beyond a shadow of a doubt, my No. 1 inspiration is Harriet Tubman. She had clarity, righteousness of purpose, and COURAGE. My God! What a woman!
Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She was a big thinker who moved far beyond the confines of convention. And, Zora Neale Hurston, an artist that was far ahead of her time.
RP: How would you define a feminist?
TM: A person who understands and advocates for equality — in every sphere — for men and women.
RP: How do you think the #MeToo movement and its subsequent revelations have shaped the current perception of women and their achievements?
TM: The #MeToo movement is shining the light on the fact that there is a war on women all over the world.
RP: What can our local community do to support gender equality? What can people do as individuals?
TM: I’m not sure. Women’s role and power in society needs to be completely reimagined.