Wednesday, March 18, 2009
MY MENTOR AND FRIEND, DR. ESTELLE RAMEY
Estelle was a fantastic person, as protective of men as she was adamant for the recognition of women's rights. She approached the gender discussion with wit and science. She died three years ago but stands as an example of someone who would have been a great choice for any Council leader. Reading some of the comments on blogs, I found that she would be called a dinosaur - sadly many women have bought into the idea that any woman with experience, actions and intelligence is passe.
From the 70's on she influenced many women's lives - certainly mine as I was introduced to her while studying in medical school [not as a med student - not allowed in them there days] taking courses to get a MS. She was an endrocrinologist who told it like it is, I discovered, after I contacted her for some info on the thymus.
I intend to do a series of posts using her words and the words of others who knew her. It seems that few women or men remember much of what the recent past was like and about the women that "were the change". The following is from her obit - note how the attitudes of the DNC have not changed much.
Ramey burst into the national limelight in 1970 when she sharply contradicted a Democratic leader’s assertion that women could not perform key executive jobs because of their “raging” hormones.
The controversial comments were made by Dr. Edgar F. Berman, a retired surgeon and confidant of former Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey. At a session of the Democratic Party’s Committee on National Priorities, he dismissed Hawaii Rep. Patsy T. Mink’s call for action on women’s rights with a diatribe on what he saw as crippling differences between the sexes.
“Suppose,” Berman conjectured, “that we had a menopausal woman president who had to make the decision of the Bay of the Pigs?” (He was referring to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, during John F. Kennedy’s presidency.) “All things being equal,” he continued, “I would still rather have had a male JFK make the Cuban Missile Crisis decisions than a female of similar age.”
He insisted that women’s “raging storms of monthly hormonal imbalances” made them unfit for high office.
Hormonal imbalances happened to be Ramey’s specialty. When a friend told her about Berman’s comments, the endocrinologist wrote letters to the Washington Evening Star and the Washington Post criticizing the Democratic advisor. The Star published her letter, in which she wrote that she was “startled to learn that ovarian hormones are toxic to brain cells.”
She pointed out that during the Cuban missile scare, Kennedy suffered from a serious hormonal disorder — Addison’s disease, which affects the adrenal gland — and that the medications he took were capable of causing severe mood swings.
A short time after Berman made the offending remarks, he accepted an invitation from the National Women’s Press Club to debate Ramey. She claimed the advantage from the outset: When Berman opened by saying, “I really love women,” she clobbered him with “So did Henry VIII.”
The Washington Post, in its story on the debate, reported that Ramey “mopped up the floor” with Berman. He ultimately resigned his post on the Democratic National Committee and Ramey became a popular public speaker on women’s issues.
You may think this settled the hormone question but most men still think women's homones affect their brains adversely.