"You used to have to be a man to be somebody, now you can be a woman and be somebody," so says accomplished psychoanalyst turned prolific author, Alma Bond.
As a child Bond aspired to be an author and an actress -- occupations her working-class family told her would be nice hobbies -- eventually she set her sights on a career in psychotherapy. She remembers the day she -- as a teenager -- came down the stairs and asked, "Daddy, can I go to college?" Neither of Bond's parents went beyond grammar school. Her dad replied, "I'll sell my shirt to send you."
Bond earned her PhD and went on to private practice. Her New York City couch was graced by the well-known and by everyday folks. She had good guys and she had bad guys. Bond even turned away a few patients because she knew she wouldn't tolerate them and had no desire to learn more about what made them tick.
Bond married, had children, and immersed herself in the New York theater world. Her husband was a colleague and close friend of Marlon Brando. She remembers fondly Brando's visits to their home for dinner. She employed these and other brushes with super stardom -- and her husband's interpretation of folks Bond never met -- to transition from real-life private practice to theoretical analyst for some of the world's most famous people.
Bond's written 22 books since she retired decades ago. She happened upon her niche -- fictional psychoanalysis of amazing women, living and dead -- as her writing evolved over the years. Bond uses only two criteria when allowing real patients onto her imaginary couch: They have to be women and she has to love them as people.
Bond's subject choices reveal as much about her, as her books expose about these legends. Bond's written about Marilyn Monroe -- her description of the bombshell is exactly as Bond's husband described Monroe after they met -- Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Michelle Obama, and soon to be released, Hillary Clinton.
Bond, the first person in her extended family to finish college, admires the gains her subjects have made not only for themselves but for women in general. Bond explains, "I don't think women have to fight the way they did. Women can be anything they want and that includes president." And Bond would really like to see Hillary Clinton become president. But of course she would, Bond loves Clinton, or the former secretary of state never would have made it to Bond's mythical couch.
Meeting Alma Bond and reading her educated guesses about what makes great women great -- even as the nation bickers over whether the National Football League should terminate the employment of a man who beat his wife -- it's hard to deny that it's still a man's world. But, it would also be wise to heed the psychoanalysts opinion of what makes some women strong enough to fight back, what makes some women determined enough to get what they want.
Bond -- like all the women in her "on the couch" series -- explains, "I've always done what I wanted." Hillary, Marilyn, Michelle, Jackie faced great adversity, even public humiliation, but they never took their eye off their prize. Crawling inside Bond's books while she crawls inside their heads is a great way to be inspired by these women who overcame sexism, patriarchy, and chauvinism, to become influential, inspirational, even downright powerful.
As news stories pile up reminding us that women still have a long way to go before they share equally the respect and dignity all humans require, it's nice to pull down a piece of fiction that was inspired by some plain old everyday female excellence written by a woman to whom greatness comes easily.