May 202013
 

MAY 2013 BLOG

Who said “The Most Important Career Decision You Make Is Who You Marry”?

Answer: Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, (whose estimated worth is over a billion dollars), considered now one of the most powerful women in the world. Her book “Lean In” and foundation LeanIn.org is all about fostering and nurturing and inspiring leadership in girls and women. Her message is all about leaning in to your ambition.

Boys, she says, are socialized to be assertive and aggressive and take leadership. Girls? “We call our little girls bossy,” Sandberg says. “Go to a playground: Little girls get called ‘bossy’ all the time, a word that’s almost never used for boys. And that leads directly to the problems women face in the workforce.

Her book is controversial but read it for yourself. I think her message is fabulous!
Check out her website

http://leanin.org

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I am SO PROUD to be a Women’s History Expert for
SheSource
which is part of the Women’s Media Center,

SheSource is an online braintrust of female experts on diverse topics designed to serve journalists, producers and bookers who need female guests and sources.

The Women’s Media Center http://www.womensmediacenter.com/ makes women visible and powerful in the media. The WMC works with the media to ensure that women’s stories are told and women’s voices are heard through media advocacy campaigns, media monitoring for sexism, creating original contenttraining women and girls to participate in media, and promoting media experienced women experts. The WMC directly engages with the media at all levels to ensure that a diverse group of women is present in newsrooms, on air, in print and online, in ?lm, entertainment, and theater, as sources and subjects. 

The Women’s Media Center was founded in 2005 as a non-profit progressive women’s media organization by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem.

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SATURDAY MAY 11th at 6PM – HoopLA

Speaking of female leadership, a fabulous Los Angeles Female, Erika Schickel, just leaned in and has created HoopLA – “a new kind of variety show”. If you are in Los Angeles, check it out.

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I am helping inaugurate the first show May 11th 2013 and will be performing some of
SHE’S HISTORY!
This month’s theme: MOTHER (it IS Mother’s Day Weekend) 
The line-up is pretty cool….

 Sandra Tsing Loh, Weba Garretson, Gayle Brandeis, Amy Simon, Samantha Dunn

Saturday, May 11 @ 6pm
Club Fais Do Do
5253 West Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles 90016

For Info: http://lareviewofbooks.org/hoopla.php

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A Match Made In Heaven
SHE’S HISTORY! and The Girl Scouts! 

GIRLTOPIA

A Teen Summit at The Los Angeles Convention Center
hosted by Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles
A one day awe-inspiring conference for One Thousand Girls in grades 6-12.
SHE’S HISTORY! will be there, bringing to life the many unknown fabulous females
who embody the Girls Scouts mission:

To build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.

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More Los Angeles Leadership News

 geena copy

I attended the very cool West Hollywood Women’s Leadership Conference 2013. I went with my favorite Women’s Documentary Filmmaker – Martha Wheelock, in whose film California Women Win The Vote! (http://wildwestwomen.org/), I played California pioneer Maude Younger (The Millionaire Waitress)

martha wheelock

Martha Wheelock and Amy Simon

The conference kicked off with Geena Davis, the Oscar nominated actress who played the President (Commander In Chief) on TV. Motherhood inspired her to Chair the California Commission on the Status of Women. She is also the Founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and SeeJane.org, whose brilliant message to girls is: If You Can’t See It You Can’t Be it. The statistics on girls and women being unrepresented – and stereotypically represented in media are staggering. Check it out….

http://www.seejane.org/

Next was a screening of the Academy Award nominated film “The Invisible War” with producer Amy Ziering and Director Kirby Dick. This is a brilliant film about sexual assault in the military. Women serving in combat zones are more likely to be raped by a comrade than killed by enemy fire. Women are blamed, demoted, fired and punished for reporting their sexual assaults. Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is the new term used by The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) to refer to this rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment. Mindblowing. For more info click here:

 http://invisiblewarmovie.com/

I attended many panels including “50/50: Leadership, Representation and Equality.” Moderated by former state legislator Sheila Kuehl – a most FABULOUS Trail-Blazing Modern Day Pioneer. We in the audience were inspired and motivated – and urged to run for office – by all the panelists, including Elana Pianko, Chair of the LA Council for the National Women’s History Museum. A short film was shown with little girls playing the roles of many many unknown fabulous females in history – who are IN SHE’S HISTORY!

I am looking forward to collaborating with Elana Pianko, who told her story of being inspired to Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg’s book. Mentoring was a topic discussed and emphasis was on encouraging WOMEN TO RUN FOR OFFICE. I learned there is a difference between a woman candidate, and a woman’s candidate…..

The always articulate and brilliantly informed women’s rights kick-ass activist/lawyer Sandra Fluke also inspired the crowds. She was the Georgetown law student, who Rush Limbaugh called a slut and a prostitute when she tried to address members of Congress about contraception and employer health plans (radio host Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut” ).

Her message: YES YOU CAN – and ask for help from your community. This DON’T GO IT ALONE message was a theme of this leadership conference.

 sandra

Amy Simon and Sandra Fluke

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VERY SAD NEWS FOR THE WOMEN’S MOVEMENT

Mary Thom, a chronicler of the feminist movement and former executive editor of Ms. magazine, died in a motorcycle accident. She was 68 and lived in Manhattan.

 PastedGraphic-1

Mary Thom

I did not know Ms. Thom, but she was another Fabulous Female, another unknown unheralded heroine who inspired and trail blazed and SHE’S HISTORY! acknowledges her contribution to the Women’s Movement. 

Read about her, please…

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/29/business/media/mary-thom-a-chronicler-of-thefeminist-movement-dies-at-68.html?_r=0

http://msmagazine.com/blog/2013/05/01/public-memorial-for-mary-thom-and-a-newaward-in-her-name/

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Fabulous Female Facts Every Wednesday at RADIOORNOT.COM

Another Fabulous Female, Nicole Sandler hosts her own show. Check her out

http://radioornot.com/

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Mar 142013
 
MARCH IS WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH!
The Most Shocking And Unnatural Incident Ever Recorded In The History Of Womanity!
Read all about it here….

 

March is Women’s History Month. Most people don’t know that. And THAT is shocking.

In honor of women, PBS has aired a fantastic three hour documentary called MAKERS.COM – “a digital platform developed by AOL, showcasing hundreds of compelling stories from women of today and tomorrow.” What a great idea! (You can watch the entire show on their website http://www.makers.com/). The show is loaded with fabulous females telling their true horrifying and inspiring stories such as Oprah telling a story of how in 1980, she was co-hosting a Baltimore TV show and earning $22,000 and learned her male co-host was earning $50,000. When she complained to her boss, he asked why she should make that much and she told him “because we are doing the same job”. He argued with her and defended the male co-host, saying he had a family to support and bills to pay. Oprah said she knew she couldn’t make a big stink or she would be blackballed. She just thought; “I’ll show him”. And that’s when she got the idea to have her OWN show. Watch that interview here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/28/about-oprah-winfrey-life-history- makers_n_2760337.html

Of course Oprah has gone on to make amazing “women’s history”, and sadly there are TONS of stories like this, but first – a little History…about Women’s History Month, an idea inspired by a question posed by a boy. There are plenty of men who have helped – and continue to help – women achieve equality. And there are plenty of women who have opposed – and continue to oppose – women achieving equality. Phyllis Schlafly pretty much single-handedly organized women AND men to stop the Equal Rights Amendment from being passed. HER story is in the MAKERS.COM show.

It was a man – Victor Hugo who said: “Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.”

The idea of Women’s History Month started in 1972 when a high school student in Los Angeles, taking a U.S. History class, asked his teacher a question. “What is the Woman’s Movement?” He was introduced to THAT idea when he saw a copy of the brand new Ms. Magazine.Molly McGregor, twenty-six year old history freak was this boy’s teacher. Molly said she was glad the boy asked her this question on a Friday, because she needed the weekend to come up with the answer. So she said to the boy “that’s a good question”.

She went home and looked through her vast collection of history books to find some information, and to her dismay and disgust, found ONE book with ONE chapter, on Seneca Falls – a dusty upstate New York town where the very first Woman’s Convention was held in 1848. That’s when a seed was planted and Molly McGregor got the idea to bring Women’s History and Women’s struggles and accomplishments into the schools, and consciousness of America. She was not alone.

In 1966 actress Marlo Thomas, tired of being offered roles as “the wife of somebody”, or “the daughter of somebody” or “the secretary of somebody”, went to the head of ABC and said, “it’s time for a woman to be the somebody.” What a radical idea! Then she pulled a copy of Betty Friedan’s groundbreaking The Feminine Mystique out of her purse and handed it to him. “This is where it’s going”, she said. And Marlo Thomas, became a trailblazer – the producer and star of That Girl, a show about a single woman living alone pursuing a career in New York City. Watch that interview here: http://collider.com/marlo-thomas-makers-women-who-make-america-interview/.

She tell this story on the MAKERS.COM documentary which is narrated by Meryl Streep, who played Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the film Iron Lady. Ms. Streep donated ONE MILLION DOLLARS of her Iron Lady salary to help build a Women’s History Museum on the National Mall in Washington. “Any woman who understands the problems of running a home, is that much nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.”, said Ms. Thatcher, when she was making history running England.

Back in 1848 in Seneca Falls, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the “Architect of the Woman’s Movement” drafted a Declaration of Sentiments, modeled after The Declaration Of Independence, in which she proposed that “all men AND WOMEN” are created equal. She then had the audacity to insist that women be given suffrage – the right to vote. It was a shocking and radical idea. She and her buddy, famed and revered abolitionist Frederick Douglass, managed to get The Declaration of Sentiments published in the New York Herald and all hell broke loose. They called it: The Most Shocking And Unnatural Incident Ever Recorded In The History Of Womanity!

It took until 1920 for women in this country to get the right to vote. THAT is shocking!.

March 8th is International Woman’s Day. Some people DO know this, but probably don’t know it grew out of a declaration made in 1909 by the Socialist Party of America demanding equal rights – such as voting – for women.

In 1978, Molly McGregor creates a “Sexism In Education” course that she is teaching in Sonoma, California and gets the idea for a whole week to celebrate Women’s History, to coincide with International Women’s Day – March 8th. She takes her idea to the folks in charge of ALL the school districts, “an easy easy sell”, she says, and it turns out to be a fabulously successful and exciting week. Her idea catches the attention of Gerda Lerner, the fabulous female pioneering scholar with a doctorate in history (who is responsible for bringing women’s history into the academic world). Ms. Lerner took Molly McGregor’s idea for Women’s History Week to some of her friends who happen to be friends with President Carter. Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Mikulski (who holds the record as the longest serving woman in Congress!) and Republican Orrin Hatch (a man!) get behind it, lobbying takes place, and in 1980 the President makes the Declaration and the rest is…..herstory. ((It was in 1987 that the whole month of March was declared)

Today, Molly McGregor is as busy as ever. Back in 1980, she founded The National Women’s History Project (http://www.nwhp.org/) which inspired me to create SHE’S HISTORY! As a performer listed on her website, I got my first booking when I was hired by The Equal Opportunity Program for The Bulldog Brigade at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. They went to the NWHP looking for a speaker to celebrate Women’s History Month.

What’s really shocking though is that in 2013, women STILL EARN ONLY SEVENTY SEVEN CENTS TO THE MAN’S DOLLAR, and women running for public office are still being asked how they will manage as an elected official and a mother. (Watch the Makers interview here http://www.makers.com/pat-schroeder) Back in 1972, Pat Schroeder, running for Congress, was asked how SHE would manage. Her response: “I have a brain and a uterus and they both work”. MAKES sense.

Read more about how Molly did it here:

http://www.nwhp.org/whm/history.php

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Jan 042013
 

November 19th, 2012 ; “With gratitude for bringing us Bella’s words”, wrote Gloria Steinem, on a clean blank page of my copy of Bella S. Abzug’s autobiography; BELLA!. I had Bella’s book with me, knowing the glorious Gloria would be at The Manhattan Borough President’s office in New York City and see my Bella Abzug performance (excerpted from SHE’S HISTORY! The Most Dangerous Women In America…Then And Now, my play and school program about women who make and made history).  I keep reading it and pinching myself.  “Yes”, I say, “this did happen.  You were there.  She was there.  It happened.”

Here’s what happened.

August 10th, 2012, there I was in Los Angeles, having just moved for the second time in nine months, unexpectedly child-free for the first time in twenty years, an unplanned empty nester, surrounded by boxes, in my new apartment, depressed, disgusted and enraged with The Family Legal System and with all of life’s injustices. I find myself at 7AM in Peet’s Coffee shop, reading an email from Diana Mara Henry, Bella Abzug’s photographer. “If you are in New York City on November 19th, we would be delighted to have you ‘say a few words’ as Bella Abzug! “

I read it again and again.  “I must be dreaming”, I thought, and for the first time in a long time, I felt something other than sad.  So I pinched myself, ordered a large low-fat wet cappuccino, went back to my box-filled apartment, called Diana Mara Henry and said “why yes, I DO plan on being in Manhattan on November 19th (I had NO INTENTION of being in Manhattan on November 19th) and would love to say a few words as Bella”.

For the uninitiated, Bella Abzug was a pioneering feminist, activist, pacifist, lawyer, mother, loud mouth hat wearing revered New York Congresswoman.   And she was best friends with Gloria Steinem.

“Give ‘em hell Bella”.  That’s what I heard growing up in New York and distinctly remember seeing and hearing her on televsion with her big hats – and big mouth. You could not miss her.   It wasn’t until I became a mom raising two girls and started my women’s history journey, that I learned about Bella and I learned that I didn’t know ANYTHING about her.  This herstorical ignorance which permeates our world is what inspires me – now at the tender age of 56, with two teenage daughters, to turn the world on to all the fabulous females we don’t know about with SHE’S HISTORY!

Don’t know who took this photo – got it from the Internet.
If anyone knows, please contact me so I can give credit.

I had the honor of meeting Bella’s buddy, Ms. Steinem, twice before, and we had chatted about SHE’S HISTORY! but she had never seen me perform.  What brought us together was WOMEN ON THE MOVE – the 35th anniversary celebration of an amazing event that no one knows about.  The 1977 Houston Woman’s Conference, planned, and organized by Bella, who was appointed by President Carter to head the National Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year “to promote equality between men and women”.

Ahhhh.  “Promote equality between men and women.”

So many things made November 19th-21st, 1977 so special, so amazing, so life-changing for so many women AND men. Bella got the whole thing started and got the government – for the first and only time – to pay for this National Woman’s Conference. One hundred and fifty thousand people participated in the planning of the conference with every state being represented.  Twenty thousand people attended the conference, including Gloria Steinem, Susan B. Anthony II (the grand niece of her namesake), Maya Angelou, Coretta Scott King, Betty Friedan, Barbara Jordan, Billie Jean King, and New York Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, the youngest woman to have been elected to the House of Representatives. And Diana Mara Henry captured it all, as official photographer of the National Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year, sponsor of the conference and the 50 state meetings that preceded it to elect delegates and formulate a plan of action.

The very first woman’s conference was held in 1848, in Seneca Falls New York.  The notice in the paper said: “A Convention to discuss the social, civil and religious condition and rights of woman”.   In other words, to “promote equality between men and women”.  A Declaration of Sentiments was hammered out (modeled after the Declaration of Independence) including the resolution that “all men AND WOMEN” are created equal.  Caused quite the stir! It wasn’t until 1920 that the 19th Amendment was passed giving American women the right to vote, but back in 1848,  Elizabeth Cady Stanton had the nerve to demand that a woman’s right to vote be included in the Declaration of Sentiments.  It was, and all hell broke loose.  The New York Herald called it “the most shocking and unnatural incident ever recorded in the history of womanity.”

On September 29th, 1977,  forty-nine days before the conference, a torch was lighted in Seneca Falls and carried by a relay of runners to Houston – 2600 miles away.  Maya Angelou wrote a new Declaration Of Sentiments that was signed along the way. Do you have goose bumps yet? Peggy Kokernot, Michele Cearcy and Sylvia Ortiz were the three runners who carried the torch for the last mile.

Copyright © 1977 Diana Mara Henry / www.dianamarahenry.com

From left to right: Sylvia Ortiz, Peggy Kokernot and Michele Cearcy

Copyright © 1977 Diana Mara Henry / www.dianamarahenry.com

And there they were – running that last mile, left to right: Billie Jean King, Susan B. Anthony II, Bella Abzug, Sylvia Ortiz, Peggy Kokernot, Michelle Cearcy, and Betty Friedan!

Grand openingcolor_000

 

Copyright © 1977 Diana Mara Henry / www.dianamarahenry.com

They presented it to (above) LADY BIRD JOHNSON, ROSALYNN CARTER and BETTY FORD.

That’s Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman in the background applauding, with Bella Abzug, and Donna de Varona, Suzy Chaffee and Michelle Cearcy at right, and in foreground, Peg Kokernot and Sylvia Ortiz.

Both Ms. Holtzman and Ms. Steinem, as well as most of the people in the audience for whom I performed, including the torch runners, were at the anniversary celebration in New York City.  Most had attended the Houston conference in 1977, and many were friends and colleagues of Bella’s, knew, loved, was inspired by, and miss Bella (she died in 1998).

I am not used to performing for people who actually know or knew the “dangerous” women I portray on stage, so it was thrilling and nerve-wracking, but ultimately, ended up being one of the coolest things I have done.

Photo by Robin L Gallagher
Chatting with Gloria Steinem, after my Bella performance.  She was telling me the best Bella biographies to read.

Photo by Robin L Gallagher

This is Elizabeth Holtzman, former New York Congresswoman, who I grew up admiring!While in congress, she played a key role in the impeachment of President Nixon and was a dedicated Nazi-Hunter.

This celebration was a reunion for the people of ’77, and the theme that kept emerging as the speakers took their turns was “unfinished business”.  They all spoke of how inspiring and energizing the Houston Conference was but how there is still SO MUCH TO DO!

Please visit Diana Mara Henry’s website and see the photos and read the speeches and words of Billie Jean King, many of the delegates and others including Lucy Komisar of the Komisar Scoop, who talked about the last conversation she had Sept.4, 2005, with Betty Friedan, at her house in Sag Harbor.

http://www.womenonthemoveonline.com

Photo by Robin L Gallagher
Here I am with Diana Mara Henry – who made it all happen.  Her book “Women On The Move” is amazing!

Back in August when I got the email inviting me to NYC, I planned a fabulous four days and ended up doing four shows.  I was definitely a Woman On The Move!

And I got lucky.  An old friend and colleague from my New York Improv days is a Director at The Henry Street Settlement, a not-for-profit social service agency that provides social services, arts programs and health care, catering to low-income families in the Lower East Side of New York City – where my mom and her family – immigrants from Eastern Europe –  grew up.  Founded by another fabulous female I want to turn the world on to Lillian Wald, – a rich and privileged nurse, activist and humanitarian who inspires me.  She spent her life making the world better. When I mentioned to my dad “I am doing a show for the Henry Street Settlement.  Have you ever heard of it daddy?”.  He told me, “Yeah, they sent me to camp when I was eight years old”.   More goosebumps.

I brought two books about Lillian Wald with me.  A biography “Always a Sister; The Feminism of Lillian Wald”, that I planned to donate to the school and one of her autobiographies,  “The House On Henry Street” hoping to get the twenty-four middle school students I was performing for to sign.  I love performing SHE’S HISTORY! for the kids.  They are always so surprised to hear the stories and nothing engages like theatre.  I was there BEFORE the Newtown shooting and I bring this up because I told them about Malala Yousafzai, the fourteen year old Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban on her school bus for trying to go to school.  A theme of my show is “quiet woman, stand in the back and let the men do the talking”. They were mesmerized by Malala’a story.  “In the head”, I answered, when the little boy in the front row asked where exactly was she shot?  Details, they wanted details.  I show her picture in my slideshow and suddenly she was very real.  You could see the effect it had on them.

Of course, now, after Newtown, I wonder if I did the right thing telling them about Malala.   It did not occur to me (or anyone) that this kind of violence could happen to an American Elementary school student.  Malala is miraculously recovering in a London hospital.  (Left the hospital on Friday January 4th 2013)

I only had thirty-five minutes to perform but they loved it and afterwards, I asked if I could have a picture with them.  They rushed to encircle me and one of the boys grabbed a flag I use to drape a table and held it up. The energy was delicious.  Then I held up my copy of Lillian Wald’s House on Henry Street and asked “can you all sign your name in my book because I know you will each grow up and do something amazing and I want to say I knew you”.  Well.  You should have seen them run to do it and patiently wait their turn.  One girl came up to me holding the biography of Lillian Wald that I donated.  “You are just giving this to us?, she asked?  She could not believe it.  It was so rewarding and heartbreaking and heartwarming to be able to perform for these kids, many of whom I was told, lived in shelters, and also just survived Hurricane Sandy.

henry street kids

Photo by Robin L Gallagher

After that, I was taken on a tour of Lillian Wald’s home – the actual House On Henry Street, a five story block long building where it all started and now serves as the administrative headquarters.  Goosebumps all over the place.

The Henry Street show started my four days in New York.  The next night, I did a fundraiser for The Museum Of Motherhood (museumofmotherhood.org).  The founder is my friend, fabulous female, Joy Rose, who is the founder. Whenever I am in New York with the show, I do a fundraiser for the Museum.

joy & Amy 3-12joy-m.o.m.

October 2011 Fundraiser                                                  March 2012 Fundraiser

joy intro

Photo by Robin L Gallagher

Joy Rose Introducing The Show

My friend Kim works for the Coalition Against Trafficking In Women.  She came with her boss Norma, the director.  After the show we had a fascinating talkback, which began with the a discussion of the word prostitute, inspired by Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for President in 1872, who has a big part in my show and who is known as The Prostitute Who Ran For President.  “We prefer using the term “prostituted” a verb, as in ‘she was prostituted’. Something was done to her.  You don’t call someone that which is done to them”, explained Norma, and we went on to discuss a variety of subjects, all inspired by the trail-blazing women in the show.

Back in August, after I agreed to be Bella, I realized it took place three days before Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday.  I knew this would be a really tough one, so I decided to fly from New York to Florida (where all the old New York Jews are required to live) and spend Thanksgiving with my eighty-seven year old super cool father. My mom died in 2009. My dad, a WWII veteran, used to drive a cab in New York, is quite the character, a history buff, my hero, and sharp as a tack.  His body is another story – but his mind?  Fahgetaboudit.  Every Wednesday morning, I do a live segment of Fabulous Female Facts on radioornot.com, Nicole Sandler’s political internet radio program. The day after arriving in Florida, when I went on the air chatting about my New York adventures, I was sitting with my dad in his kitchen.   He was reading during the segment and when I was recounting the story of the runners with the torch I said, “and they delivered it to three first ladies; Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter and ……..” and then I totally blanked!  So I said “oh, I am totally blanking”, and my dad looks up and says “Lady Bird Johnson”.  I told him the story ONCE.  What a guy!

daddy kiss

I spent the rest of the week, relaxing, enjoying my dad, reliving my New York adventures and being so thankful for the opportunity to perform SHE’S HISTORY!

 

With gratitude for bringing us Bella’s words”.   Sometimes, all it takes is a little appreciation.

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