Today is the birthday of Feminist Majority Foundation President Ellie Smeal, my boss and a true feminist shero. Ellie claims to hate celebrating her birthday (FMF Political Director Alice Cohan told us the story of one year when all of Ellie's feminist friends had a rally downtown against birthdays in her honor), but I wanted to take this opportunity to write a few words about our extraordinary friend and mentor.
Ellie has been fighting for women's equality locally, nationally, and internationally for over 50 years. Since becoming involved with the civil rights movement as a student at Duke University, she has been at the forefront of almost every major battle for political, social, and economic rights for all people. I encourage you all to check out more of Ellie's biography, from her remarkable tenure as the president of the National Organization for Women in the 1970s and 80s and her extensive travels in support of the Equal Rights Amendment, to her cofounding of the Feminist Majority Foundation and her leadership of the pro-choice movement. Her achievements are numerous, and to look at a list of legislation in which she has had a hand boggles the mind.
No one knows politics and feminism better than Ellie Smeal. Ellie lives and breathes this fight every day. She never pauses, never rests. I once heard Ellie described as a "lioness." It's a fitting description. She knows to grab a megaphone and head into the streets, but she also trusts her instincts and will go to the bargaining table when the time is right.
It is because of her extraordinary achievements and experiences that Ellie believes in the power of young people. Ellie is no curmudgeon, disparaging the contributions of the countless young activists around the world. Rather, she is counting on us to innovate and get active and lead this movement. So get involved with the feminist movement on your campus and in your community. Start a feminist group. Run for office on a feminist platform. As Ellie says, "Do what you love." It is the best gift you could give her.