Feminism

How Far Women Have Come and Where They’re Going

by Gloria Feldt on March 8th, 2012
in Activism, Feminism, International, Leadership, No Excuses, Women & Politics, Women & Work, Women's History, Women's Rights

“As an activist for women through almost four decades, I know that no movement for social justice moves forward without struggle, nor does forward movement necessarily go in a straight line.”

Today, March 8, is celebrated around the globe as International Women’s Day . Some decry its commercialization, as corporate sponsors have realized it’s in their best interests to appeal to women who make over 85 percent of consumer purchases around the globe.
But it’s a day whose meaning inspires me to think back to a very special moment on September, 1995.

I was attending the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, where hugely ambitious and thrilling goals were set for improving the lives of women, and by extension their families and the world.

The official conference was in Beijing, but the much larger convocation of activists from nongovernmental organizations—40,000 enthusiastic women and a few good men like my husband—was literally stuck in the mud in Huairu, a suburb an hour’s drive from the city.

Thousands of sleepy people had arrived at dawn on the morning of Sept. 6, to stand packed together under a roof of brightly colored umbrellas, jockeying for the few hundred seats inside the auditorium where then first lady of the United States Hillary Clinton was slated to give a speech.

Thanks to my training in clinic defense, which had taught me how to form a wedge and move expeditiously through even the most aggressive crowd, I was fortunate not only to get inside but to get a seat. The program was running late; Hillary was running even later and the crowd was getting restless.

Just as it seemed a revolt might be brewing, Shirley May Springer Stanton, the cultural coordinator of the conference, sauntered onto the stage and began to sing a capella, ever so softly: “Gonna keep on moving forward. Never turning back, never turning back.”

Then she asked the audience to join her. Pretty soon the house was rocking. By the time the first lady arrived and gave her brilliant “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights” speech, it truly felt like the global movement for women’s rights was unstoppable.

Hillary Clinton, Beijing 1995

It was, you might say, an ovular moment.

Where are women today? How far have we come?

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Sexist Screed Gone Too Far-Now Rush Must Go

by Gloria Feldt on March 2nd, 2012
in Feminism, Gender, Leadership, Media, Politico Arena, Politics, Power, Women & Politics, Women's History

It’s Women’ History Month. Let’s make Rush Limbaugh history. Here’s one action you can take. Stay tuned, and scroll down to the bottom of the post for more every day.

Politico Arena asks:
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh has been heavily criticized by the Georgetown University law student who he called a “slut” after she testified on Capitol Hill about women’s access to contraception.

“I’m not the first woman to be treated this way by numerous conservative media outlets, and hopefully I’ll be the last,” Sandra Fluke said on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show.” “This is really inappropriate. This is outside the bounds of civil discourse.”

Although Limbaugh infuriated Democrats by calling Fluke both a “prostitute” and a “slut,” he has shown no signs that he’ll issue an apology.

Should Limbaugh issue an apology? Or will the media firestorm blow over?

My Response: No apology is good enough. Rush must go. Period.

Women have had to put up with his “feminazi” epithets for far too long,

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Another Year of the Woman? Really?

by Gloria Feldt on February 1st, 2012
in Election Watch, Feminism, Gender, General, Leadership, Political Strategy, Politics, Power, Women & Politics

There was a short piece in Monday’s USA Today saying that 2012 is shaping up to be another “Year of the Woman.” And they did have some very good news numbers to back that notion:

…a notable number of candidates are running in potentially competitive races in both the House of Representatives and Senate that could send a wave of female lawmakers to Washington in November. If so, it would reverse the 2010 election trend that saw the first dip in female representation in the House since 1978 and only sent one woman, New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte, to the Senate.

In the 2012 Senate lineup, there are 10 female candidates — four Republicans and six Democrats — seeking office. Of the six states with female Democratic candidates — Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Dakota and Wisconsin — none has ever elected a woman to the Senate.

Republican women are running in Connecticut, Hawaii, Missouri and New Mexico.

I want to believe, oh how I want to believe. These numbers, though inching up, still represent a mere fractional increase—even if all of them are elected—a probability somewhere around that of hell freezing over.

At the rate we have been going for the last 20 years and since the first “Year of the Woman” in 1992, it will take 70 years to reach gender parity in Congress.

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The Grand Folly of Focusing on “Common Ground”

by Gloria Feldt on January 12th, 2012
in Activism, Election Watch, Feminism, Gender, Media, No Excuses, Political Strategy, Reproductive Health, Women's Rights

I believe in making common cause with people of all persuasions, but here’s what I learned about the quest for common ground on issues where people have diametrically opposing worldviews. Originally published at On The Issues Magazine.

©Elaine Soto

©Elaine SotoThe day before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was expected to rule, rumors circulated that the agency would approve Plan B One Step emergency contraception as a non-prescription item and allow it to be sold without age restrictions. Freelance writer Robin Marty predicted via e-mail, “Conservative reaction will be a total shitstorm.”

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What should be the response to the Mississippi “Personhood” proposal?

by Gloria Feldt on November 7th, 2011
in Feminism, No Excuses, Politico Arena, Politics, Reproductive Health, Women's Rights

Arena asked “Should Miss. ‘personhood’ proposal pass?” The answer is NO. And further….please read on to see what else I think about what the proposal means, and what should be done about it.

NO 26The Arena Asks: An initiative in Mississippi Tuesday would impose the country’s tightest regulations on abortion and birth control. Initiative 26 would change the definition of a person to include “every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”

Should the ‘personhood’ proposal pass?

My Answer: Everyone who is or has a mother, sister, woman friend, or daughter should vote against any candidate, Republican or Democrat, who fails to support a woman’s fundamental human right to make her own childbearing decisions–including whether to have a child or not. Period.

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Is World Population Day of 7 Billion Scarier than Halloween?

by Gloria Feldt on October 31st, 2011
in Economy, Environment, Feminism, Politics, Reproductive Health, Women's Rights

Today, on Halloween no less, the Earth welcomed the baby who tipped world population over the 7 billion mark.

I probably wouldn’t have known much about the topic of world population but for a fluke as I prepared to graduate from the University of Texas Permian Basin the summer of 1974. To my surprise, I was told I needed three more hours of science.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sc4HxPxNrZ0&feature=related[/youtube]
National Geographic video showing population growth

It had been a long 12-year road for me, what with three children to care for, a five-year stint teaching Head Start, and other detours along the way. Finally, I thought, I’d be done by the end of June.

Once I got the bad news, I looked for the easiest science course I could find, preferably one without the

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Suskind Flap: Is the Obama administration sexist?

by Gloria Feldt on September 20th, 2011
in Feminism, Gender, Leadership, Media, Politico Arena, Politics, Women & Politics, Women & Work

You might look at my headline and reply, “Is the Pope Catholic?” because you agree with my contention that institutional sexism is bound to exist in a structure so traditionally male-dominated. Read on and let me know what you think about Arena’s question of whether the new Suskind book’s revelations about the treatment of women in the White House will damage Obama.

Politico TheArena logo

Arena Asks: Tuesday’s release of a new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind is causing heartache at the White House. “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington and the Education of a President” describes a difficult work environment for women in the Obama administration’s early months, among other revelations. How much, if at all, will the book damage the Obama White House? And did staffers err in giving access to the author, who previously wrote books often critical of the George W. Bush administration?

My Answer:It should come as no surprise to anyone that institutional sexism exists in the White House, as it does in virtually all leadership structures traditionally run by men, progressive or conservative. Suskind’s findings were hardly new or unique to the Obama administration…

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Pump Up the Passion: Why Dems Need a Bachmann!

by Gloria Feldt on September 13th, 2011
in Activism, Economy, Election Watch, Feminism, Leadership, No Excuses, Political Strategy, Politics, Power, The Economy, Women & Politics

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Kevork Djansezian / Getty ImagesPassion! What a relief to see President Obama express some in his jobs speech Thursday. And for the first time that I can remember, a presidential proposal specifically addressed women’s essential role in driving the economic engine.

But the political narrative shifts awfully quickly these days. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s presidential candidacy, a hot ticket just a couple of weeks ago, is suddenly melting. And Sarah Palin is in her bus, hurtling full-speed toward self-parody as an attention-seeking political used-to-be. While women’s importance in the political landscape can no longer be overlooked, some might say that the much-hyped “year of the conservative women” is over…

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9/11 Victim Was Model for Ethic of Generosity

by Gloria Feldt on September 11th, 2011
in Feminism, Power, Tell Your story, Women's Rights

I received this inspiring letter ten years ago from a woman whose mother died on 9/11. America needs Valerie Hanna’s ethic of generosity today–read on:

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Three Ways Not to Celebrate Women’s Equality Day – August 26, 2011

by Gloria Feldt on August 25th, 2011
in Activism, Feminism, Gender, Leadership, No Excuses, Politics, Power, Women & Politics, Women & Work, Women's History, Women's Rights

Congresswoman (D-NY) Bella AbzugAs second wave feminism gathered peak velocity forty years ago, the late bombastic and behatted Congresswoman (D-NY) Bella Abzug persuaded Congress to designate August 26th as Women’s Equality Day. It recognized the 19th Amendment to the Constitution that in 1920 gave all U.S. women the right to vote.

There are many reasons to celebrate the 91st anniversary of women winning the ballot, which some suffragist leaders mistakenly believed culminated the struggle for women’s rights. But it turns out the solution to a problem changes the problem–creating uncomfortable new questions about the value of equality and what to do once we get there.

We’ve come a long way, maybe…

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