America's "Iconic" Woman: Oprah Winfrey??!!


***updated and bumped***


When I heard that there was going to be a new television show called “Commander-in-Chief” starring Geena Davis as the first female President, I knew I was going to hate it. But I just didn’t know how bad it was going to be.

And this reaction before I’ve even seen the show.

The Washington Post reports today on a press conference with Rod Lurie, the show’s creator. Lisa de Moraes reports that “Lurie thinks it a shame there are no ‘iconic’ women in history because women do have greatness in them.”

Well, gee, thanks Rod. Nice to know we do have it in us. . .

Lurie next reeled off examples of “iconic men:” George Washington, Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein and Abraham Lincoln.

At least he didn’t say Bill Clinton.

But here’s the kicker. Obviously forgetting the wisdom of “stop digging,” Lurie added:


Try to find an iconic woman. There aren’t any. The most iconic woman is Oprah Winfrey, and she deserves it.

Oprah Winfrey??!! There aren’t any other “iconic women?” Please, Lisa, check your notes and tell me he didn’t really say that!

Hey Rod! Recognize any of these women?


Mother Teresa


Margaret Thatcher


Amelia Earhart

Send me your nominations for my photo gallery of iconic women. . .

UPDATE: Such great names!! Be sure to read the wonderful lists of names in the comments. But first: how much do I love the fact that the very first person to get back to me with a gallery of women, complete with pictures, was. . . a guy?! Waco, you’re terrific! That really speaks to Kathy’s point in the comments that being a hero or a heroine shouldn’t be necessarily about gender. These women inspire us all.

After the jump — the expanded gallery of iconic women. . .

Linked to Shakespeare’s Sister at BlogWhoring.

Forbes has 100 most powerful women. Feministing is the vector. Common Sense Runs Wild also featured the article.

Here, in no particular order except for the first one, are Waco Kid’s (of Penguin Proletariat) submissions. . .


Mary I love this inclusion. Thank you Waco! And the Anchoress suggested the Virgin Mary too. It’s important to remember that she was a real woman. . .


Joan of Arc In addition to Waco’s list, Joan of Arc turned up on the Anchoress and MyssiAnn’s, too.


Lady Liberty This one surprised me! But quixotic though it may be, I really like the idea of including a real icon — reminding us that throughout the ages many of the virtues and goods of life have been depicted as feminine. . .


Georgia O’Keefe It’s a good thing to have an artist as a friend; I would never have thought of including Georgia O’Keefe.


Christa McAuliffe Who can forget where they were when the Challenger exploded, taking Christa McAuliffe with it. President Reagan: “We will never forget them this morning as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.”


Helen Keller


Madame Curie Who knew Madame Curie was so beautiful?


Eleanor Roosevelt Don’t care for Eleanor Roosevelt’s husband’s politics, but she was certainly a woman of accomplishment in her own right. Here’s something she wrote when she was fourteen: “…no matter how plain a woman may be if truth & loyalty are stamped upon her face all will be attracted to her….”


Golda Meir Golda Meir became the world’s third female Prime Minister when she was 71 years old.


Jane Goodall Jane Goodall is another one I wouldn’t have thought of, but in addition to Waco’s list, Goodall was recommended by Kathryn of Suitable for Mixed Company, too.


Condi Rice Janette of Common Sense Runs Wild, wanted to be the first to mention Condi, “the first person the left loves to forget when it comes to acknowledging accomplishments by women.” So true.


Harriet Tubman From Miss Attila, Harriet Tubman — she is believed to have helped at least 300 slaves escape into freedom through the Underground Railroad.


Abigail Adams Abigail Adams writing to her husband John at the Constitutional Convention: “Don’t forget the women.”


Susan B. Anthony Feminists claim Susan B. Anthony as one of their one who helped American women achieve suffrage. But did you know she was also strongly pro-life and spoke out against abortion?

Guilty? Yes, no matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; but oh! Thrice guilty is he who, for selfish gratification, heedless of her prayers, indifferent to her fate, drove her to the desperation which impels her to the crime.


Elizabeth I And lastly, only because I have to for now, both the Anchoress and MyssiAnn remind us of Elizabeth I whose reign was so successful they called it the Elizabethan Era, or the Golden Age.


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37 Responses

  1. Janette says:

    Let me be the first to nominate Condi Rice, an obvious choice and the first person the left loves to forget when it comes to acknowledging accomplishments by women.

  2. Janette says:

    Oh and his pick of Oprah over Hillary is just too rich!

  3. Iconic Women

    Charmaine at Reasoned Audacity has an amusing and jaw dropping post up. Go nominate your own picks for iconic women. Dibs on Condi Rice!…

  4. Attila Girl says:

    Condi Rice. Harriet Tubman. Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Abigail Adams. Elizabeth Blackwell. Jane Austen. Virginia Woolf. Elizabeth R. Susan B. Anthony. Dorothy Parker. Harriet Beecher Stowe.

    But I suppose if one watches lots of television, doesn’t read, and hates conservatives, one might think of Oprah first.

    Nothing against Oprah, but–Sheesh.

  5. Women who really matter

    Charmaine, at Reasoned Audacity was shocked that the show’s creator, decrying the absence of “iconic” women, was able to name only Oprah as a potential iconic figure. (I’m always amazed that we still have the capacity to be shocked at the silliness r…

  6. Kathryn says:

    As if girls my age didn’t grow up wanting to be Clara Barton and Florence Nightingale and Laura Ingalls and Narcissa Whitman (without getting murdered, thanks) or Queen Isabella sending Columbus off on his voyage, and Joan of Arc, and Pocahontas and Sacajawea, and Eugenie Clark (sharks), and Jane Goodall, etc. I’m not sure which of those qualify for “icon” status, if any, but, honestly, it shouldn’t be hard to find somebody outside the fellow’s own industry. Oh, Queen Victoria comes to mind as rather iconic. And…

    I would also like to note that I also wanted to be like George Washington plus George Washington Carver, Luther Burbank and Gregor Mendel, Daniel Boone (albeit as played by Fess Parker) and his friend Mingo (as played by Ed Ames), Jacques Cousteau, etc.

    I don’t understand this ‘men vs. women’ icon business, but it’s sad he couldn’t get his mind past the Nielsen’s, so to speak.

    I’ve linked.

  7. Iconic Women

    Charmaine Yoest has already called it on the quality of the upcoming show, “Commander-in-Chief”:

    When I heard that there was going to be a new television show called “Commander-in-Chief” starring Geena Davis as the first femal…

  8. Aspiration, Thy Name is Oprah

    Never mind women who have broken down barriers, fought for equal rights, run for President, held elected office, made major scientific discoveries, great achievements in sports, were great humanitarians and were the epitome of style and grace.

  9. The Blessed Virgin Mary? Abigail Adams? Dolley Madison? Jackie Kennedy at JFK’s funeral? Princess Elizabeth, who left royal life to serve the poor? Elizabeth I of England? Dorothy Day? Oriana Fallaci? Lucielle Ball? Isadora Duncan? Joan of Arc? Rosa Parks? Ella Fitzgerald? Therese of Liseiux?

  10. Geena Davis and Iconic women

    So, everyone is all of a doo-dah about this new Geena Davis show, wherein she will be the first female president.

    ABC is doing its part to help the Hillary ‘08 campaign with this transparent attempt to get the nation “comfortable” w…

  11. MyssiAnn says:

    Marie Curie

    Sandra Day O’Connor

    Mother Teresa

    Joan d’Arc

    Elizabeth I

    Princess Diana (not sure she deserves it, but definitely an icon)

    Louisa May Alcott

    Susan B. Anthony

    Catherine the Great

    Billie Jean King

    Nadia Comaneche (you know, the gymnast I butchered her last name’s spelling I’m sure)

    Dorothy Hamill

  12. St. Margaret of Scotland,

    Nellie Blye,

    Anne Frank,

    Phyllis Wheatley,

    Corrie Ten Boom,

    Edith Stein (St. Benedicta of the Cross), and

    St. Teresa of Avila

    and what about all the mothers and wives of all the male icons? Somebody had to guide them. *g*

    I wonder what his definition of greatness is.

  13. Emily Dickinson,


  14. President Red Lips

    Lisa de Moraes: “ABC’s new drama “Commander-in-Chief,” about a set of plump red lips that take over the Oval Office after the president has a massive stroke and croaks.”

    Hilarious. I saw for the first time a commercial for CiC last night and the only t

  15. Iconic women-there are none?

    Perhaps the list should be forwarded to Mr. Lurie, who seems to not have the first clue …

  16. jody says:

    See? This is what happens when my computer breaks! I miss great discussions like this one! I say “ditto” on everyone mentioned and would also like to mention the “true” iconic women: Our mothers, sisters, aunts, mentors and friends who give us strength and confidence and told us when growing up that we could do anything. Those are the true symbols and lights in our lives.

  17. David Foster says:

    Science & Engineering:

    *Ada, Countess of Lovelace–collaborated on conceptual design for digital computer, circa 1830

    *Grace Hopper–pioneer of computing and language development, circa 1945-1970. Admiral, U.S. Navy.

    Known for her pithy sayings about a wide variety of topics


    *Queen Victoria–about as “iconic” as you can get


    *Noor Inayat Khan

    *Violette Szabo

    ..British secret agents in WWII, both killed in the line of duty

    Lurie is an idiot.

  18. Iconic Women

    Charmaine Yoest has a lively post going called America?s ?Iconic? Woman: Oprah Winfrey??!! in which she says:

    When I heard that there was going to be a new television show called ?Commander-in-Chief? starring Geena Davis as the first female Presiden…

  19. Hail to ABC, Cheif

    Some reactions to ABC’s new TV show “Hail to the Cheif” in which the president is a woman.

    Don Surber: There was a big deal made by reporters covering the press promo for the show because not one of the producers, directors, writers or actors is …

  20. Miriam says:

    George Eliot; George Sand; Lucrezia de Borgia; BBoadica (can’t spell it, but there’s a statue of her in London; Bessie Coleman, the first black woman to have a pilot’s license; Harriet Beecher Stowe; Julia Ward Howe; Frances Perkins; Willa Brown; Florence Nightengale;–and that’s just off the top of my head.

    These people are just so stone ignorant. There are reference books in the library tht list famous women, famous black women, famous women in science, famous Jewish women, and on and on.

  21. Lee says:

    The icon of all icons in our era is – Marilyn Monroe and how about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis…

  22. silverpie says:

    Babe Didriksen. Bessie Smith. Esther (from the Bible).

  23. peggy says:

    I dont have any picture but here are some that I think should be added.

    Barbara Jordan

    Jackie Kennedy for her strength and poise before a shocked nation after her husbands murder.

    Sandra Day O’Connor

  24. Catching my eye: morning A through Z

    Here’s what’s caught my eye this morning: Gerard Vanderleun of American Digest, commenting on the press involvement in and coverage of the suicide of a former Miami city commissioner: I think I can recall, vaguely and only in shadows, the…

  25. amba says:

    Wislawa Szymborska, one of the great — and totally accessible — poets of our time, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

  26. Waco Kid says:

    maureen martin said: “I would also like to mention the “true” iconic women: Our mothers, sisters, aunts, mentors and friends who give us strength and confidence and told us when growing up that we could do anything.”

    Amen to that, let’s add Grandmas to the list.

  27. Crunchycon says:

    Belva Bennett Lockwood, first woman to practice before the Supreme Court. Ran for the presidency in 1884 and 1888.

  28. How about Olympic legends like Wilma Rudolph,

    Summer Sanders, and (dating myself) Peggy Fleming? Fleming was mentioned by name in more than one “Peanuts” comic strip– and you cant get more iconic than that.

    Also perhaps drag racer Shirley Muldowney?

    Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan? Western marksman Annie Oakley? Accent queen Meryl Streep?

  29. Condi Rice Is #1

    Yesterday I referred you to an interesting discussion over at Reasoned Audacity about iconic women. The conversation is ongoing and you should really check the comments out. It’s a fascinating read. I suggested Condi Rice for obvious reasons. Well, mos…

  30. Paul says:

    May I nominate Eleanor of Acquitaine?

  31. amba says:

    Wislawa Szymborska, one of the great — and totally accessible — poets of our time, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

  32. Joe says:

    Het, I’ve known why Oprah is an icon for a long time now, and I addressed it here. In the entire history of her magazine “O”, the only person who’s ever appeared on the cover is…Oprah!

    Now, if that isn’t iconic, I don’t knw what is.

  33. Wyck says:

    I second the nomination of Wislawa Szymborska and add the following:

    Isabella D’Este

    St. Theresa of Avila

    St. Catherine of Siena

    Vittoria Colonna

    Sofonisba Anguisola

    Artemesia Gentileschi

    Mary Cassatt


  34. Rebecca says:

    I’m suprised that no one has mentioned Mother Angelica, the first (and so far, only) woman to found a cable network which grew into perhaps the largest single media empire — EWTN.

  35. Lamar Cole says:

    Oprah Winfrey is one of the best examples

    of being born into humble circumstances

    and pulling oneself up by the bootstraps

    and going on to become one of the most

    confident, powerful, and successful

    persons in the world.

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