People sometimes ask me, “How do you come up with ideas for your History of sex column every week?”
The answer is a simple: everywhere. Sex is everywhere, history is always in the making and sometimes I get a little help from my friends…and television and newspapers, and occasionally, even total strangers. This week’s column was inspired by an HBO documentary, “All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State”. Truthfully, I set my PVR to record this doc because I thought it was about Representative Wendy Davis, the famed pink-sneaker wearing Texas Senator who filibustered for 13 hours to end an awful abortion two years ago (more on that in a future column). Showing how little I know about Texas State politics, I never even realized that there was more than one liberal-minded woman among the predominantly-male-cowboy-hat-wearing-gun-toting elected officials. And that’s when I learned that not only was Ann Richards a cowboy-hat-wearing-gun-toting-elected-official but she paved the way for women like Wendy Davis, Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton (her hubby, Bill, was even a close friend of Richards!).
Ann broke into the scene in the early ‘80’s after decades of being a house-wife, school teacher, politicians-wife and Austin-scenester. She was the elected Texas State Treasurer from 1983-1991 and went on to be the first elected female Texas Governor from 1991-1995 only to be beaten by the up-and-coming son-of–an-ex-president, George W, Bush. When she and W famously went bird-hunting on the campaign trail she brought her own shotgun and he had to borrow one, then he accidentally shot a killdeer songbird, illegal game in his own state and was fined $130 for his misdemeanor. Alas, she still lost the gubernatorial race to the man who went on to be the 43rd president.
Ann Richards was a trailblazer. She achieved success in ending corruption in politics, boosting economic revitalization, increasing school finances, rehabilitating criminals, de-criminalizing homosexuality, and supporting women’s rights. She received many awards and much recognition for her influential work in Texas, America and even Mexico. Sadly, her old habits of “smoking like a chimney and drinking like a fish” caught up with her and she passed away from esophagus cancer in 2006, at the age of 73. Her legacy lives on at her school, “The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders” in Austin Texas and through her activist daughter, Cecile, the president of Planned Parenthood who was previously the deputy chief of staff for Nancy Pelosi.
I’d like to finish today’s column with this image of me, on the couch alone, repeating Ann’s words back to her:
“I’m not afraid to shake up the system, and government needs more shaking up than any other system I know.”
Through my sniffly tears I thought, “Thank you HBO, this is going to make a really interesting History of Sex column…”