On the day Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, I decided to read Cleopatra: A Life by the Pulitzer prize-winning biographer Stacy Schiff.
I craved history lessons from the successful life-work of a female leader. I learned that Cleopatra was more than the sexualized creature we know from many historians, Hollywood and even Shakespeare. Today, she is mostly remembered for her romances, and little-known for her actions as an illustrious and wise leader.
The woman has had more than 2,000 years of bad press. Can you imagine how unfair it would be to characterize Trump as simply a “pussy-grabber” 2,000 years from now?
Cleopatra was a capable queen, a strategist and a bold player in the world politics of her age. She spoke several languages, was ambitious and business-minded and an effective sovereign.
She was a woman with a firm grasp of power, and as Schiff points out: “Cleopatra was alone at an all-male table.” And yes, she was charming, witty, rich and very, very intelligent.
I would like to reach out to the many people who marched on Jan. 21: Let’s read about women who were truly great leaders and let’s get on with figuring out what each of us needs to do to help elect more women into positions of power.
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