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Blue skies, books and Berghain: Kimberly Marteau Emerson

Emerson is a human rights activist, a mum of three and wife of US Ambassador John B. Emerson. Emerson speaks at Women & Leadership: The Path Ahead on Wed, Oct 12, 7pm at the VW Forum.

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Photo by Karolina Spolniewski

Our brand new series spotlights Berlin’s Powerfrauen. This month: Kimberly Marteau Emerson is an American attorney and human rights activist (Human Rights Watch), a mum of three daughters and wife of US Ambassador to Germany John B. Emerson. 

One sentence that proves you’re a woman!

“It makes me feel more powerful to look good while doing good.” I don’t agree with women who think that if you like to dress stylishly and groom yourself smartly, it makes you less serious. It’s important not to be self-conscious about style, but to absolutely embrace this fun and wonderful tool of self-expression. 

How do you define being a feminist today?

Intuitive, self-possessed, confident, unhindered by gender norms. Having a seat at the economic and/or political power table.

The best/worst thing about being a woman?

Best: high heels. Worst: high heels.

The most sexist question you’ve ever been asked?

It’s too outrageous to repeat here. 

Who are you named after?

Kim Novak, the famous American actress from the 1950s.

Last time you laughed out loud?

I look for the humour in life, so my hearty laugh can be heard frequently. A few days ago at a cocktail party, my girlfriend asked a server for a glass of champagne. He shook his head and said, “No, we don’t have it.” Then he winked and added: “I want some, too!” That cracked me up. It’s so very Berlin.

An offer you can’t say no to?

An invitation to talk about Human Rights Watch… and almost any opportunity to dance! 

Your most treasured possession?

My diary. I started it two and a half years ago, and I write a few sentences every day. Hopefully one day it’ll be a basis for a book on the many roles I have played here!

What are you afraid of?

The lack of empathy in the world, and arriving at the tennis court as it begins to rain. 

What’s your idea of ultimate freedom?

Blue sky, one metre of fresh powder, tuned skis and a long, untracked slope in front of me. Take off!

What superpower would you like to have and how would you use it?

The power to heal bodies, hearts and minds… and flying would be cool, too.

What’s currently on your bedside table?

Scott Anderson’s Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East, Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, my mobile, iPad, a bottle of water and earplugs.

Your craziest Berlin adventure:

A night at Berghain with Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy… That’s all I can say. What happens at Berghain stays at Berghain!

Emerson speaks at Women & Leadership: The Path Ahead on Wed, Oct 12, 7pm at the Volkswagen Group Forum.