I’m at work, as a Nurse Practitioner in a rural clinic in Ojai, CA.,
where I also live with my husband Terry and our two rescue
dogs, Max and Bella. Thoughts arise while doing a pap smear or a
scheduling a patient for a mammogram, that I’m very fortunate,
that I get to help wonderful women, to empower fabulous women,
every time I go to work. It’s no wonder then that I chose a strong female
protagonist as the pivotal character in my new novel, The Persecution of
It’s often been stated, jokingly and in earnest, that a lot of the
world’s problems could be solved with more women in charge: of politics,
medicine, law, business, etc.—an infusing of the female energy, a motherly
love; a concerned intelligent wisdom into our problem-inundated world.
It is therefore also no coincidence I chose a strong female figure to
demonstrate, in this chronicle of hatred and prejudice, how love and
friendship, based in tolerance, heal.
Were Mildred Dunlap alive in the 1950s when Betty Friedan wrote
The Feminine Mystique, she would have been an exception to the unhappy
rule, where women’s magazines were run mostly by men that showed women as either happy housewives or neurotic career women. Mildred was her own person, her own boss, kept her own counsel, rare in 1950, unheard of in 1895,when the story takes place. But, a strong woman in any time period surpasses the norms, which is what Mildred Dunlap did. She was not only strong intellectually, she understood tolerance. She lived it, and being a lesbian in the closet gave her good reason.
Tolerance, freedom from bigotry, was natural for Mildred. While the small
town she lived in went ballistic with gossip over the imprisonment of
Oscar Wilde, for having sex with another male, Mildred maintained an
objectivity of those around her, in seeing their hatred and violence, even
when directed at her. To see the human condition for what it is, to live
among it, and maintain a fair permissive attitude, when race, religion,
sexual preference, nationality, etc. differ from one’s own, is manifesting
tolerance. Mildred held her position of strength and tolerance, despite threat
to her health and life, and in the end it was this combination that surmounted
the hatred, the prejudice, and violence, to bring resolution.