I couldn't have been more than five years old when I first watched Nancy Sinatra don her mini skirt and go-go boots, then pony on stage with her entourage of female dancers. At the time, I may not have fully understood the content of the song "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'," but what I did understand, in some five-year-old acumen, was that it was possible for a woman to be strong and confident and in control of her own life. And it was all about the boots.
This was in the 1960s, when women were again living on a historical cusp of progress. College admissions for women were on the rise, although women still weren't able to attend Ivy League schools like Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Dartmouth, or Columbia. "The pill" was available as a means of contraception, but in some states, it would only be prescribed if the woman was married and intended to use birth control solely for family planning. Women couldn't serve on juries or open credit card accounts without their husbands as cosigners, and although more women entered the workforce, they received only fifty-nine cents on the dollar to their male counterparts. Women were again fighting for social equality, and the boots that Nancy vowed to “walk all over you” with became an iconic symbol of empowerment and independence. Women could do anything—and still be feminine and beautiful.
Those women in their boots, those beginning to nick the glass ceiling, gave one chubby five-year-old the confidence to take dance classes, the courage to try out for the boys’ basketball team, and the confidence to dream about a future of unlimited choices.
Over the years, I've worn many boots: work boots, hiking boots, SCUBA boots, even one brief encounter with a pair of thigh-high leather heeled boots. I still can't dance, my pony looks more like a mule, and I can’t shoot a hoop with an Uzi, but I've never stopped dreaming and I've never stopped trying. Although I’ve found many, many women in my fifty years to look up to and admire, who further reinforced the idea of women's empowerment and independence, it was Nancy Sinatra who taught me at a very young age to put on my boots. And start walkin'.
In my novel Call Me Daddy, Vera Shatner takes her idolization of Nancy Sinatra to a different level. When she slips on her boots, she becomes Nancy, and in her mind, being Nancy makes her “normal”—powerful. Independent. Add to that a man who feeds her fantasy, and Vera feels complete, at least until the illusion is shattered. But for Vera, the boots are key to her liberty, even if the freedom she seeks is from her own prison of mental illness.
RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 6
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