We Need a New Women's Movement NOW
By Alicia Colon
December 15, 2000
Last month, I received a very flattering email from an editor of a renowned liberal newspaper in Detroit. She had read an article I had written about Roe vs. Wade and wanted to know if her paper could reprint it. I went through the process of signing a freelance contract only to learn that her senior editor had nixed the piece.
One of the reasons cited for the turndown was her feeling that the article was insulting to women. Imagine! I had dared to accuse women of not thinking seriously about the current election issues and joked about repealing the 19th amendment. I wrote back that I firmly believe that women should be called on the carpet whenever they act like mindless robots.
Well, that didn't go over too well and I was told that, on second thought, I was probably not the kind of writer they were looking for. Sheesh! Some feminists simply have no sense of humor and that's only one of the many reasons we women desperately need new spokespersons.
Currently, we are represented publicly by an organization that has presented a schizophrenic agenda for our interests. The National Organization for Women (NOW) on one hand promotes the image of women along the lines of the old Helen Reddy anthem. ``I am woman. Hear me roar.'' We are supposed to be superwomen, capable of crashing glass ceilings, doing nearly every job as well as men and therefore deserving of equitable earnings. Sounds good, doesn't it?
But on the other side of NOW's agenda is the promotion of a victim status whereby we seem to need governmental protection from those big bad bosses at the workplace or for that matter anyone who dares to look at us cross-eyed. Perhaps that famous acronym stands for National Organization of Wimps.
Sexual harassment is a very serious charge that has been politicized to such a degree that it now defies definition. Are sexy posters in locker rooms really as traumatizing as a male supervisor's sexual extortion? I don't think so.
Additionally, I didn't appreciate the blatant hypocrisy displayed by NOW when confronted by Juanita Broaddrick's allegation of rape against President Clinton. When it comes to support from this women's group, critics of the President need not apply.
Reproductive rights is another issue which does not broker much discussion among feminists. Either you are pro-choice or you simply don't belong. Pro-life advocates have no voice within this women's group and they will not support any political candidate who claims to be one. The irony is that NOW places such a premium on feminine choice yet dismisses the choice of women who choose to remain at home for their family.
Whenever I watch Patricia Ireland, president of NOW, express her views on a program dealing with woman's issues, I disagree with nearly every position she takes. Yet, she is considered my representative in the media. Meanwhile another group, Conservative Women for America (CWFA) with twice the membership as NOW, is rarely recruited to comment on issues.
I was invited to the CWFA convention last September and although there were few Hispanics represented, I did not feel out of place because of the lack of stridency among these conventioneers. The convention agenda was also in marked difference from NOW'S June gathering.
Workshops were held about such subjects as religious persecution around the world; protecting children from pornography; breast cancer prevention; United Nations and globalization and of course, morality in America. NOW'S agenda was more self-directed and dealt more with the empowerment of women than altruism. Politics, how to handle the media, erase glass ceilings and other activism topics dominated its convention.
The CWFA convention also featured a special dinner honoring Baroness Margaret Thatcher, a woman who exemplifies leadership qualities sorely lacking on this side of the Atlantic. We do not have any female politician in either party with Lady Thatcher's strong moral convictions coupled with an understanding and respect for a strong military. Not one.
The ``Iron Lady'' gave her defense ministers total support during the Falkland Islands crisis in 1982. She declared they had access to whatever resources the nation had and what it didn't have she would somehow get. This is the kind of support our Army Rangers should have received before getting killed and dragged through the streets of Somalia after waiting in vain for backup.
One of my favorite Thatcher quotes is:
``I am in politics because of the struggle between good and evil. I believe in the end, good will triumph.''
I'm sure that there are many good and decent women involved in NOW but as long as their leadership courts an ultra-left wing direction they'll fail to impress. Camille Paglia, the noted liberal Professor of Humanities, bashes NOW in her latest column after receiving a letter signed by Patricia Ireland calling for a radio boycott of Rush Limbaugh. She accuses NOW of whoring for the Democratic Party and writes:
``(NOW) has perverted its mission and joined the totalitarian forces of censorship.''
I've always resented getting pushed off our pedestals by feminist pioneers like Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer and the then single Gloria Steinem. I, personally, always thought we belonged on that pedestal because we were the sex empowered through physiology with the burden of ensuring and nurturing the continuation of our species. The women's lib movement ran as swiftly as possible from that awesome responsibility to embrace instead the power structure they perceived was enjoyed by men.
That militant feminism has transformed our sex. Cosmopolitan magazine has a feature entitled Cosmo Confession. Women send in confessions of their most heinous acts of revenge against those who've hurt them. There is a nastiness in these revelations that women would never sink to before our so-called liberation.
Currently, the feminist agenda is consumed more with attaining political power than with the advancement of women's rights. Its preoccupation with reproductive rights has more ironically benefited men who no longer bear responsibilities for impregnating girlfriends as long as there's a women's clinic handy. Women may have more power and clout in the boardroom but not over their lives.
Perhaps it would be prudent to remind these testosterone-challenged activists of another Thatcher quote:
Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you're not.
Alicia's column archives can be found at www.aliciacolon.com
Copyright 2000 by Alicia Colon. Not to be reproduced in any fashion, in whole or in part, without written consent from the author. All rights reserved.