Of course, Oprah would never claim to speak on behalf of all women. (Or if she did, she would quickly qualify it.) Still, in a way, she does and she has been the leading advocate on behalf of and for women for the past 25 years.
Not only because she gave away cars to an entire audience, or advice on love and self-discovery, but because she gave women a voice. No woman in history has had the platform to take on such important issues, particularly for women. No President or wife of a President, no Queen, no one. Oprah came to us in our living rooms every day, if we wanted her to. She met us where we lived and we are better people because of it.
In particular, I am heartened by the distinct way she validated the spiritual and emotional life that many women live. She was our cheerleader – and she did it with attitude, long before attitude was cool.
I did not watch Oprah much, but I have a feeling she’d like me. Don’t you? I can hardly imagine how valued women across the world feel because of their long relationship with her across the air waves. She accessed so much of herself in her show – and it helped all of us a little.
Not everyone loved Oprah. But that is what people sometimes do with their jealousy over someone else’s success and wealth. She was an advocate for black women, for women, for tolerance, for boundary setting, for personal growth pursuits, and for honesty. And to me, what matters is most, is what she did with the power she acquired. Sure, there was entertainment woven into the fabric of selling her television program, products sold and promoted. But, in my opinion, what she gave exposed outweighed the packaging she came to us in.
And, out of respect for her, I’d like to start calling her Ms. Winfrey.
Welcome to your new life, Ms. Winfrey! We will continue to hold a little part of you in ours.