“It gets into your blood”: That’s how Swanee Hunt, director of the Women and Policy program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, describes a family that wasn’t shy about passionate political opinions. She writes at Women’s Enews that she knew that wealth meant that she had power — before she knew what she would use it for:

Dad [H.L. Hunt] was a Texas oilman with far right-wing politics. He relished this work and pulled his children into it when he could. My sister and I sang patriotic ditties to visiting dignitaries, and I sometimes delivered warnings about Castro’s communist threat as a warm-up to his speeches. In 1964 I accompanied him to the Republican convention at the Cow Palace in San Francisco; like a young Hillary Rodham, I was a banner-waving Goldwater Girl.


By that time our nation had already plunged into a sequence of social movements that would reshape my politics: civil rights, anti-war, environmental and women’s movements were underway. Dad died when I was 24, and my inheritance allowed me to become a philanthropist.

Five years later, in 1979, I made a reservation for a table in the male-only Main Dining Room of the Dallas Petroleum Club. (With a name like “Swanee,” no one knows. . .) At the door, the stately but flummoxed black maitre d’ had to turn me away or lose his job. He and I had more in common than met the eye: Neither of us were welcome in the hallowed mess hall where deals might be made.


Paste this on the fridge. Then remember to look at it: This week, as Breast Cancer Awareness Month gets started, we can all expect a near-glut of TV spots, celebrity-laden events, and pink buttons. But none of that familiarity should stop us from paying attention to ABC News’ decade-by-decade guide to prevention:


40s – Women in their 40s need to be more vigilant than ever about their breast screening as cancer rates start to increase (1 in every 70 women in her forties will be diagnosed with the disease). What to do in your 40* Schedule an annual mammogram and clinical exam, and check your own breasts. *  Eat a healthy diet…..Focus especially on eating a variety of brightly colored fruits and veggies, as these contain the highest concentration of vitamins.

50s – As menopause hits, the risk of the disease is even higher (1 in 40 will get the disease in this decade) and taking care of your health becomes more important than ever. Steps to take include * Maintain your body weight, or lose weight if you’re overweight.  * Avoid or limit hormone replacement therapy which increases your breast cancer risks. * Make sure to get enough vitamin D.

60s and Beyond – The average age a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer is 62, which is why women in their 60s need to maintain healthy breast habits including:  * Track any changes in your own breasts – The older you are, the easier it is to do self breast exams because breasts are less dense. * Exercise regularly – Studies suggest that exercising three to four hours per week at moderate or vigorous levels can reduce your risk of breast cancer by about 20%.

Not a lady, but definitely Nana: Last week’s profile of several veteran female corrections officers at Rikers Island got WVFC thinking of new definitions of hard and soft power.

Nearly two decades after perfecting her walk in front of
the mirror, Barbara Williams is, by her own account, “Mom to
everybody.” She has one daughter heading to law school, and the other
is a small-business entrepreneur. Neighborhood children flocked to Ms.
Williams’s home when they needed advice, or just a sandwich. But to
male corrections officers, she is simply Nana, an affectionate nickname
for a grandmother.  “Hey, Grandma!” a beefy officer greeted her
one recent afternoon as he passed her desk at Horizon Academy. “Look at
them big ol’ eyelashes!”

“It’s
like I tell my daughters: In life, you have to know when to be a woman
and when to be a lady,” she said. “I don’t feel that ladies belong in
jail. So, that softer part of me, I try to leave outside. I walk in
here, and I try to be 110 percent woman.”

Women have worked in
the city’s Department of Correction for decades, but never in such
large numbers as they do today. Women make up 45 percent of about 9,300
uniformed employees of the department, according to the agency. From
guards to wardens to the four-star chief, Carolyn Thomas, they fill
almost every rank. And in many respects, they are changing the culture
of the city’s jails.

Walk down the corridors of any of the
city’s 11 active jails, and it is clear that not only are there a high
number of female officers, but a majority of those women — 75 percent —
are black, said Stephen Morello, a department spokesman. They are
former soldiers, beauticians and bank tellers. They are single mothers
who took the job to support their children. They are grandmothers like
Angela Crim (“Crime without the ‘E,’ ” she says sweetly), who carries
handwritten Scripture in her purse and says she tries not to judge the
men whom she guards.

 

— Chris L.

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