Author Salutes Women's History With One Exception

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In the latest installment of the program's series Tell Me More About Women's History, author Sandra Cisneros talks about the women, and one man, whose accomplishments she celebrates during Women's History Month.

MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And finally, in honor of Women's History Month, we want to end the program today with a segment we're calling Tell Me More About Women's History. Today, we ask acclaimed author Sandra Cisneros about the women who have inspired her, and she gives us, let's say, an interesting and eclectic range of answers.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. SANDRA CISNEROS (Author): Muchos thank you, Michel. For Women's History Month, I'd like to pick three women who inspire me, and I had a hard time picking only three because there's probably a 103 women I'd like to pick. But if I had to pick just one, on top of my list would be La Virgen de Guadalupe, the Virgin of Guadalupe. And she is, of course, not only the mother of the historical prophet Jesus Christ, but she is also, according to the Mexicans, a national icon and a goddess who appeared in the 1500s to a man named Juan Diego, an indigenous man. She purportedly appeared on the mountain called Tepeyac and created some miracles.

But whether she existed or not is irrelevant to me. She's a state of being, a state of compassion and loving kindness. I also see in La Virgen de Guadalupe all of the indigenous faces that are at the bottom of the social ladder as we begin the new millenia. She is a face for the divine feminine in women that I meet throughout the world. So that's why I admire La Virgen de Guadalupe.

Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers is the second selection. They are a council of wise elders who come from around the globe, from the Arctic, Africa, Asia, North, South and Central America. And, you know, when you think about it, who is smart in your family? It's usually your abuelita, your grandma.

Just think if we could get the wisdom from a feminine point of view, and you could bring women from different continents together who are working as peace activists, as healers in their communities, and if we could get their wisdom.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. CISNEROS: Well, I was only allowed to pick two, but I had to pick a runner up. And the that runner up is RuPaul.

(Soundbite of song, "Supermodel")

RUPAUL (Singer, Personality): (Singing) You better work…

Unidentified Man: (Singing) Cover girl.

RUPAUL: (Singing) …work it girl.

Unidentified Man: (Singing) Give a twirl.

RUPAUL: (Singing) Do your thing on the runway. Work…

Ms. CISNEROS: I just love RuPaul. RuPaul, I know - there's a man named RuPaul Andre Charles, and he's a man. But RuPaul the character is ultra-female. He's an Amazon woman with wild big hair and long, long legs and glamorous, glamorous, glamorous. I love RuPaul, and I just love the message, you know the gospel according to RuPaul: If you can't love yourself, honey, how the hell are you going love somebody else? And I think the drag queens really embody the elements of culture that is most despised, you know, being gay men, being gay men of color, and then transforming that to being the most magnificent, fantastic, glamorous, beautiful being you can be.

I think that's a wonderful thing, and it allows me to celebrate my femininity and to realize that you've got to work. And I love that because, hey, that's right, girl. You've got to work to be anybody, and I love it.

(Soundbite of song, "Supermodel")

RUPAUL: (Singing) I have one thing to say: sashay, shante…

MARTIN: That was author Sandra Cisneros telling us some of the women and the man who inspire her during Women's History Month, and that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.

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