Women of a Certain Age
A WOMAN OF A CERTAIN AGE
Diana Bishop is a “woman of a certain age,” as am I.
She’s an international TV news correspondent (CBC, CTV, Global and NBC News) who has spent most of her life telling people’s stories. She’s traveled the world as a journalist covering major national and international events and interviewing key newsmakers of the day from presidents and prime ministers to iconic figures and influencers. Among her favorite interviews were with Nelson Mandela, Celine Dion and Betty Friedan, leader of the women’s liberation movement. She spent eight years working as a political reporter on Parliament Hill (equivalent to a White House Correspondent in the U.S.) and traveling with senior political leaders around the globe. She was also named the first full-time female foreign correspondent for the Canadian network CTV National News then got the plum posting as Beijing Bureau Chief. For her work in Asia, she was nominated in 1995 for a “Gemini,” Canada’s top journalist award.
So, she doesn’t come by her title lightly.
At the top of her career, she started a new chapter in her life, capitalizing on her storytelling skills. Diana took the risk of re-inventing herself to launch a communications and personal branding business called “The Success Story Program.” Since then she has been working with trailblazers in every field and industry, from executives, entrepreneurs, politicians, heart surgeons, ballet dancers and beauty pageant contestants. She regularly gives workshops and keynote speeches to business groups which has taken her from Rome to New York to San Francisco.
In 2017, Diana published her first book, a highly acclaimed memoir called Living Up to a Legend (Dundurn Press Inc.). It is her personal story of growing up in the shadow of her grandfather, Canada’s most famous war hero, Billy Bishop, whose influence was akin to living with a ghost who she claims has haunted and profoundly shaped her life in the most interesting and unexpected ways.
Her newest project is a blog and online business she calls her so-called “retirement” project, where she gets to continue her journey of being a storyteller. I can relate. As often as I threaten to retire, soon to hit the big 7-0, I know that it’s not in my genetic make-up to one day stop producing things, regardless of age. Diana wanted to write about being a woman of “a certain” age and generation and delve into the changing perceptions of ageism, feminism, and femininity. Paris is where she has settled on to discover, because she felt it was the most traveled and revered city in the world as well as an empowering place, particularly for women.
I agree with her. Feminism in France has a long history, even if women are still struggling for complete equality. Women who paved the way for others include such pioneers as Christine de Pizan, Louise Michel and Simone de Beauvoir. Napoleon wasn’t the woman’s friend, as his Civil Code (1804) declared women to be “incapable beings,” but women didn’t stand for such treatment and rose up against it a few years later. Women’s fight to gain equality finally saw some light when as late as 1965 married women were allowed to work without their husband’s approval (!), and birth control was legalized in 1967 (although its implementation was blocked by the conservative government for not long after). The Women’s Liberation Movement erupted again after the protests of 1968 echoing the slogan that “the personal is political.” Finally in 1970, the year I graduated high school, men lost their authority over their family meaning that legal decisions concerning the children were no longer solely made by the father. Hurrah! It’s the woman who gives birth, but the father who controls it all?? As a woman, can you imagine the absurdity of such a notion!? And believe it or not, it wasn’t until 1994, the year I moved to France, that marital rape was criminalized.
Women are now finally better represented in politics. The mayor of Paris is a woman and the National Assembly is now made up of about 40 percent women, having taken 30 years to increase that from six percent. The men continue to try to keep them down and out by enlisting more men than women for elections, but the “good old boys network” is having a hard time competing against women’s hunger and demand for equality.
So, with all this baggage, why do Diana and I think that Paris empowers women? From a personal point of view, I find that women of a certain age in France are not disregarded, discounted or discarded simply because of their age. And women themselves don’t behave as if their age means they should be disregarded, discounted or discarded. It’s a two-way street.
One of Diana’s blogs addresses this very issue. “Older Women Younger Men,” posted in November 2018 looks at the relationship between French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, who is 24 years older than himself. This alone has contributed a lot to the success of women in France and how they see themselves—as worthy of love and admiration at any age.
And as part of Diana’s Women of Global Interest Series, she came to me to be interviewed. I was a woman of a certain age and I was truly honored. The interview is just 10 days away on June 1st.
If you should decide to become a member of her Women of Global Interest Series, you become part of an exclusive global network of women where you will experience the stories of the life and work of some of the most remarkable women on the planet, at the capable interviewing skills of Diana Bishop! It’s an opportunity to meet women, up close and personal, who have written best-selling books, are international influencers, renowned chefs, prominent wine experts, travel specialists, musicians, artists, or craftspersons.
To learn more about the series, visit the website.
To tune into my interview on June 1st, click here to get your ticket.
And to read more about Diana Bishop, click here.
BORNE TO BE IN THE PRIME
Emmanuel Macron clearly admires and respects women. Another woman of a certain age, the newly appointed Prime Minister of France, Elisabeth Borne, was the daughter of a stateless Auschwitz survivor. Her father, who was a Jewish resistance fighter of Polish origin, survived the hell of Auschwitz but committed suicide as a result of his trauma, when she was just 11 years old. Her name, “Borne,” was originally “Bornstein,” just like my name “Leeds” was originally “Liebstein.
She is the first female prime minister in France since the 1990s. Her father was one of four sons who were forced into exile during World War II, seeking refuge in Toulouse, Montauban, and then in Nîmes. The youngest was deported to a camp and murdered. The three surviving Bornstein brothers joined the Resistance in order to transport men and women from the eastern French city of Grenoble to the scrublands in the southern Tarn region. They discovered a living hell when they were arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944. Two of the brothers, were selected to work and survived the camps, while one and their father were gassed. Joseph, who married Marguerite Lescene in Calvados, converted to Christianity and had two daughters, Elisabeth being one of them.
Elisabeth is a woman of a certain age who is the second woman to hold this position in a French government, thirty years after Edith Cresson.
For more information about Elisabeth Borne, visit the France 24 site.
Two women are the proprietors of one of Paris’ newest and hottest cafés —Treize au Jardin (a baker’s dozen )…American Laurel Sanderson from Charleston, South Carolina, and Swede Kajsa von Sydow. Laurel has been in France more than 20 years, has had a variety of jobs until her baking and cooking got the best of her, leading her to be so brave as to open this restaurant in Paris with Kajsa.
On the wall is a welcoming sign, “Bienvenue Y’all,” a throwback to Laurel’s southern roots, as are some of the dishes, such as Barbecue Pulled Pork and Pecan Crusted Chicken with buttermilk biscuit, potato salad, & honey mustard dipping sauce. (For those of you who don’t know what “y’all” is, it’s right up there with “true dat” and “over yonder.” )
The setting is perfect, just opposite the Jardin du Luxembourg and down the street from American woman owned bookstore, the Red Wheelbarrow. Everything on the menu is homemade and bio, the menu changing with the seasons, lots of choices for vegans and picky about all their ingredients…or so they claim. It’s proving itself in the quality of the food, the correct pricing and the friendly atmosphere…all reasons for success.
It’s tough to find their menu on their website, but using their QR code on the table, it’s all spelled out here. And they’re clever enough to welcome scanning another QR code to pay your bill using Apple Pay. (Leave it to two smart women to streamline business.)
It was the perfect luncheon stop before visiting the exhibition at the Musée du Luxembourg. We were greeted by a friendly woman who introduced herself as one of the owners—clearly she was Kajsa, who didn’t seem stressed at all about the bustling atmosphere. They’ve had plenty of press, so mine is meaningless and that’s evident by the tables being filled and a short line to get one midday on a Sunday. But if you want to read more about it, visit Save the Paris Café.
“WOMEN PIONNIÈRES” AT THE MUSÉE DU LUXEMBOURG
“Women of all ages are taking front stage at the Musée du Luxembourg by exhibiting the works of pioneer artists in the Paris from the Roaring Twenties. The exhibition is a wonderland of paintings, sculptures, photographs, movies, textile and literary works of art—no art genre has been left behind by a “large group of multi-talented women who did not think twice to let go off the standards of their time to innovate. These works made by female painters, sculptors or photographers, show these women’s fight for their empowerment. They had their own studios, galleries, publishing houses, they shamelessly depicted naked bodies, they claimed for their right to dress, marry or love whoever they wanted, without having to stick to the manacles they blew up with the stroke of a brush.” (sortiraparis.com/)
Each room within the exhibition is its own unique and awe-inspiring experience. It is impossible to not be reminded how talented these women were and again, how brave they were to have broken the norm in a man’s world. Women, of course, curated the exhibition and once again prove their rightful place in society, as equal.
The exhibition, with exclusive support of Chanel, is on until July 10, 2022. Don’t miss it.
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
Adrian at Treize