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I AM WOMAN | The Business Legacy Of Helen Reddy

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

If I were to make a Spotify playlist today, Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” would be on it.


Reddy passed recently, as did Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, marking the loss of two icons of the women’s liberation movement. As a woman owned business, with a staff of talented women and men, this loss made me realize the influence the song “I Am Woman” had on me as a young girl.


Reddy’s song was the anthem for the woman’s movement in the 1970s, the same decade my father, the late Ed Hogan, was raising a houseful of young women. He adopted the song as a personal favorite, belting those lyrics to us constantly, whatever the occasion. Picking up from a friend’s house, on the way to art school with the cool girl I just met, rolling skating at Neville Roller Rink, we’d hear him bellowing “I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignoooooore…” Nowhere was safe.


These serenades were MOST unwelcome at the time, and we’d cringe with embarrassment as young teenagers. Still, like all good songs, the melody made its’ way into our hearts and minds, at a time when it mattered. We have my dad to thank for that.


The women’s lib movement was an extraordinary time to come of age. In our female-leaning household, the importance could have passed us by. The whole place was run by women; there were no gender squabbles because we were the majority. We held autonomy and were empowered at home. But my dad knew the rest of the world was different.


By the late 1970s, the women’s equality movement had made substantial gains, and we daughters benefitted directly from these changes. For the first time in history, American women could attend whatever college they wanted, and play sports unencumbered. We could finally obtain financial credit without a husband, including buying a home. Discrimination against pregnant women was banned, access to abortion and birth control was made legal, and “irreconcilable differences” could now be used as grounds for divorce, as well as equalization of property division during divorce. These gains were only possible with the tireless energy of women fighting for our rights then and now, from suffragette Ida B. Wells-Barnett to activist Gloria Steinem.


(If you don’t know how Ida B. Wells-Barnett is, click here to learn more about this prominent Black journalist, activist and researcher, and key figure in the US women’s suffrage movement.)


There were plenty of men who didn’t believe women should have these rights. My father was not among them. He wanted more for his children, and he was on the right side of history. As a woman business owner, I’m watching the younger generation of professional women learn how delicate, precious, and recent they are, these rights they’ve had their whole lives. They are also learning the fight is not over. As a woman, the rights I’m afforded should be inalienable. They are the mark of a civilized nation, and make my owning a business possible. Even today, in fact especially today, lifting up, empowering and celebrating the achievements of women in business is my personal mission. Together, we continue to demand equal time, equal access, and a seat at any table where decisions are being made. My dad taught me to expect that.


Thanks, Dad, for raising your voice to that song, and providing an early example of allyship. Thank you for raising a houseful of successful strong women, who sing the anthem every time we get together. My sisters and I are woman, we are strong, and we are invincible.

I’ll close with a paraphrase of Reddy’s own words. May they resonate today as they did 40 years ago.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .


I am woman, hear me roar In numbers too big to ignore And I know too much to go back an’ pretend ‘Cause I’ve heard it all before And I’ve been down there on the floor No one’s ever gonna keep me down again Oh yes, I am wise But it’s wisdom born of pain Yes, I’ve paid the price But look how much I gained If I have to, I can do anything

You can bend but never break me ‘Cause it only serves to make me More determined to achieve my final goal And I come back even stronger Not a novice any longer ‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul Oh yes, I am wise But it’s wisdom born of pain Yes, I’ve paid the price But look how much I gained If I have to, I can do anything

I am woman watch me grow See me standing toe to toe As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land But I’m still an embryo With a long, long way to go Until I make my brother understand Oh yes, I am wise But it’s wisdom born of pain Yes, I’ve paid the price But look how much I gained If I have to, I can face anything

I am strong (Strong) I am invincible (Invincible) I am woman

MARY FRANCES

President + Ringmaster burkeMICHAEL+

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