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Tracey Ullman Headshot

I'm Every Woman, and a Few Men, Too

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I'm a really lucky girl, and I know it. I have grown up in the greatest generation yet to be a woman. I received an education, I can vote, I had the freedom to choose if I wanted to give birth to a child, and epidurals when I did. I've said what I wanted, gone where I wanted. I never felt inferior to a man. I didn't play the coquette or feel any pressure to hold back amongst groups of men, and that carried through in my professional life as an actress, too.

I've had an interesting career doing my own thing, not being stereotyped; I've played every type of woman and some men, too... It's been fascinating to put myself into different bodies, mentally and physically, and see people's reactions. You get treated a lot differently by the male members of the crew if you dress as a giggly busty blonde in tight jeans than you do as a pear-shaped spinster in polyester pants. Strange that. Some characters I have played garnered equal respect from men and women alike. When I crossed the studio floor as former first lady Laura Bush, a burly electrician whispered in my ear, "I didn't vote for your husband Laura, but I have tremendous respect for you, you're one classy lady!" And I smiled my beautiful Texas smile and twinkled my blue, contact-lensed eyes as he captured our image on his cell phone.

One of my only experiences of being treated unfairly because of my sex was on a trip to Israel a few years ago when my son and I visited the wailing wall in Jerusalem, and I wasn't allowed to walk up to the main part, I had to go into the "women's section," which was crowded and a quarter the size of the men's. I was furious! I wanted to stand beside Johnny and put a prayer in the wall with the boys. And that for me was just a tiny taste of the injustice meted out to millions of women all over the world on a daily basis. It reminded me that those of us who have a voice have to keep speaking up for those that don't.

Today, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day -- where would I have been 100 years ago? Working below stairs polishing the master's silver or in a whalebone corset about to appear in a vaudeville act on the Titanic, perhaps.

We've come a long way, and there's a really long way to go. I do hope I see a female president in my lifetime. We need more female politicians generally, more women CEOs, and in the world of showbiz, more interesting film roles for women over 40 -- Meryl cant play both parts.

And let's age with dignity, ladies. The majority of surgeons who nip tuck and drag female features into a scary version of their former selves are men, and how do they know how women should look and feel?

And of course one thing men will never be able to feel, is the "kick inside" of a baby -- it's magical, and it's been the best thing of all about being a woman for me. So here's to my brilliant daughter's generation -- it's so exciting to watch you.