Box 28 Folder 10 Document 20
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|Volume and series number:||Vol. FIXME No. FIXME|
|Physical archive location:||Box 28 Folder 10|
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ISSUE 4 JUNE2000 $2.00
VOICES AND VIEWS OF NOW FEMINISTS
- What are NOW's Priorities
- Why Use Consciousness Raising
- Self-Esteem Flyer
- Sexism at the Infirmary
- Action photo spread
- How to organize women into your chapter
- Insurance companies undermine independence
- About Spark
What are NOW's Priorities?
NOW has lost 60 percent of its membership since the peak in 1993. No new chapters have been started in the last seven years, according to National staff. This issue of Spark grew out of shock and dismay at that fact. It also grew out of our love and commitment to advancing women's freedom. We work hard to build out NOW chapters and we count on NOW to defend and advance women. So we believe it's worth risking ruffling a few feathers to say what we think.
Learning about the steep decline in membership really woke us up to the idea that it wasn't just us who were feeling there was something going wrong with National NOW's priorities. On the state level, we were told that the decline was due to the "political climate." Then at a New York NOW meeting, National VP Karen Johnson said that the decline was due to having a Democrat in the White House, so women were not as concerned. We don't accept these explanations because we are able to recruit women.
See priorities pg. 2
Why use consciousness raising?
Consciousness-raising (CR) is a tool that we use as women to gain a clearer understanding of our lives and the ways we are oppressed. We come together and testify on a topic like beauty standards or abortion. We speak from our personal experiences because we believe that women - not scientists, psychologists, or men - are the real experts on our living conditions. Asking ourselves questions we dig into our own lives and try to get at the root of the problem. The questions can be broad, such as "How has my body been restricted as a woman?" or they can be more specific, like "As a woman, how do you feel about getting older? Why? What do you look forward to? What do you fear?" CR has its roots in both the Chinese Revolution
see CR pg 3
Priorities from pg I
to join and become active in NOW, and they want freedom just as much as we do. We also know that some chapters (17%) are recruiting in the middle of this decline.
NOW is essential to protecting and advancing our rights as women. Are we going to stand by silently and watch our organization shrink without serious a debate?
We decided to get together and analyze why we joined NOW, and what we want it to fight for in our lives. We figured out we want a growing, fighting national movement, and we think this would be possible if NOW had better, more clearly defined, priorities. We especially thought that all aspects of reproductive rights --from abortion to childcare should be the top focus of the organization. We also thought that membership recruitment should be made a much higher priority, and that consciousness-raising, in its original form, should be used to build our movement like it did in the '60s.
Who are we? We're NOW activists and chapter leaders who have been in NOW as long as 20 years or as briefly as 8 months. We range in age from 19 to 47. In preparation for this conference, 13 of us got together to do consciousness-raising, answering from our personal experience what we, as chapter activists, got from National NOW and what we wanted that we weren't getting. We said that we thought NOW' s priorities are on a national level and what we thought they should be. Our gathering was a consciousness-raising study group conducted by Gainesville Women's Liberation (the first women's liberation group in the south.) in Gainesville, FL.
We hope other NOW chapter activists and officers will also do consciousness raising on this vital question in their chapters. You can use the questions that we used:
- What are National NOW's priorities?
- What do you think National's priorities should be? Why?
- As a NOW leader, what has my chapter gotten from National NOW that I wanted?
- What have I wanted that I haven't gotten? What have I gotten that I didn't want?
Jenny: I didn't know membership was declining. I went to the National Conference last year in LA and still didn't know the membership was declining. There was no evaluation of it. There should be a serious debate about it. It's like a secret from the membership. We're only going to solve problems if we face them.
Rhiannon: If you disagree it doesn't mean you're not feminist. Feminism doesn't mean "be nice," I would like more open debate. All these appeals to sisterhood-just because you don't agree with somebody doesn't mean you don't like the person. It's a thing that we need to work out. "Be nice" - I don't like that idea. We want to be a united front but we also don't want to crush each other with everyone trying to be nice to everybody.
I definitely think they need to go more into building membership, and into building up local chapters. And look at what the chapters actually are doing and are not doing. Like, 'Love Your Body Day' is pretty low on that list of activities chapters are doing but that's a big thing that national's pushing. Abortion's on the top of the list of things chapters are organizing on. It would be really cool if they could say, 'this is a really important thing for women,' and something we need to put resources into, discussing the history of abortion, what's going on now, what we can do to stop what's going on now, using the history of what happened before.
I'd like National to project some kind of vision for NOW. What's the proactive vision- what are we going for?
See Priorities, page 11
Consciousness raising from pg 1
and the Civil Rights Movement, where it was used to demonstrate that each group of people had a common experience. Feminist CR was developed by New York Radical Women and first written about by Kathie Sarachild in 1968. Feminist groups around the country held CRs, found out what they really wanted, and organized to win those rights: abortion, more access to male-dominated career fields, more sharing of housework, and more equal pay, to name a few. One of the most important uses for CR is to illustrate that many of the problems in our lives are not because we're imagining it or have failed in some way, but that they're rooted in a real political situation. For example, I noticed that I was a continual source of support for many of the men in my life, and that they gave me almost no support in return, but without talking to other women I thought maybe I just had lousy male friends. In CR, however, the truth came out: many women, not just myself, have the same problems. Sometimes political actions come out of CR, when we see a clear target - like demanding that the Student Health Care Center give the Morning After Pill without asking embarrassing and unnecessary questions, as my NOW chapter did a few years ago. Other times CR can help us better understand and prepare for an already planned action. When I heard that Hooters was opening a restaurant in Gainesville I was angry, but it wasn't until I went to a CR on body restrictions that it hit me - how little freedom we have as women if a blatantly sexist business is allowed to operate in the name of "family" fun. I was outraged, and attended a picked organized by community women on the opening day of Hooters.
CR is not only valuable for action, however. We use CR to gather information about women's lives and to further develop feminist theory. As Kathie Sarachild wrote in her article "Consciousness-Raising: A Radical Weapon," "We can't limit our thinking or our action only to that which we can do immediately. Action must be taken, but often it must be planned - and delayed." Although CR has many uses, it is not therapy. As Kristy Royall wrote in the 1996 Gainesville Iguana, "For me, consciousness-raising did help my self self-esteem as I realized that many of my problems were a result of women's oppression and not my personal short-comings. This knowledge, however, did not make me liberated." Sometimes we want to give each other advice about solving a problem, but that goes against the whole point of CR. Telling a woman that she should leave her boyfriend because he's a jerk makes the situation into the woman's personal problem, as if she's just with a bad guy and not that all men benefit from our oppression. We hold CRs without men for several reasons. We are speaking about personal matters, which can be embarrassing and personal. It is especially hard to talk honestly with the fear of repercussions we may face if our male friends or partners find out what we have testified about. It also makes tactical sense to meet without men - after all, we're organizing to end sexism, which directly benefits men. To have CR on sexism with men would be like inviting the boss to a union meeting.
After all te
Consciousness raising from pg 3
Although we had different positions, they had the same root: men are trying to control our sexuality, by putting intense focus on young women and ignoring older ones.
There is a tendency for CRs to fall apart during conclusions -everyone is excited about what they've heard, and wants to share more -but it's very important to stay on track. As Kristy Royall wrote: "Without at least trying to draw conclusions, CR becomes merely a rap group, a place to meet other people and get things off your chest. The data is full of potential, but without conclusions its power cannot be unleashed."
-Rhiannon Theurer, Campus NOW CR Committee chair
Sources "What is Consciousness-Raising?" Kristy Royall, January 96 Iguana. For further description of consciousness- raising, and an analysis of the distortions of the method, see Kathie Sarachild, "Consciousness-Raising: A Radical Weapon" in Redstockings' book Feminist Revolution, 1975 (Redstockings edition) and 1978 (Random House edition). "A Program for Feminist Consciousness Raising" is also reprinted in this book. The book and many founding papers of the 1960's Women's Liberation Movement are available from the Redstockings Women's Liberation Archives. Send two first-class self-addressed stamped envelopes to: Archives Distribution Project, P.O. Box 2625, Gainesville, FL 32602 to receive a catalog. www.afn.org/ -redstock
Low Self-Esteem is the Result of Oppression Not the Cause. Fight sexism at its root -male supremacy
Women's equality will not be achieved through better selfesteem and improved self image. We need to change the concrete conditions that force us to act in humiliating ways to survive and get the things we need. While good self-esteem will make us feel better and make us better fighters, it won't make us free, because our problems are real, not in heads. For example, when women diet and exercise to lose weight, it is not because they are "conditioned" to want to look that way; it is because thin women get treated better. And that's true even if we love our bodies.
As women, we experience sexism every day and we are made to feel like our problems are our fault. it is normal to feel bad about these things. As a movement however, we should not focus on self-esteem because we are blaming women for perpetuating their own oppression and ignoring the importance of collective struggle. No other oppressed group that we know of has focused on self-esteem as a way to fight for their liberation. They named their oppressors and fought them collectively. They got together and figured out that what they experienced in their personal lives had political roots.
Recognizing that we are not at fault for our oppression may make us feel better, but it is only the first step in getting our freedom. History has shown us that we need a strong mass organization to fight for women's rights and to end beauty standards, violence against women, and all forms of sexist oppression.
Young Feminists need a way to start, strengthen and build our organizations. We need a national young feminist conference that: *concentrates on developing organizational and leadership skills *actively supports women that want to convene campus chapters *draws up resolutions to be presented at National NOW conferences
Women are messed over not messed up!
- This was distributed at the 1995 Young Feminist Summit to protest the idea that women's equality can be achieved through health, self esteem, and positive body image.
Sexism at the Infirmary, again
Once again, due to the sexist policies of the Infirmary women may be forced to fight to receive health care. It has recently been brought to the attention of Campus National Organization for Women that Student Health Services Interim Director, Dr. Ronald Barry, does not support the use of the "morning after pill." As interim director Dr. Barry has a good chance of being hired permanently, despite his sexist views towards women's reproductive health care. The Infirmary which is supported largely through the health fee paid by each student at UF, should not be headed by a director that would deny vital health care to over half of the university's student population.
Also known as emergency contraception or post-coital contraception, the morning after pill is actually four to eight birth control pills which a woman can take up to 72 hours after having sex to reduce her chances of becoming pregnant. The morning after pill under the brand name Preven recently received national attention due to the controversy over Wal-Mart's refusal to dispense it despite the fact that it is the same prescription Wal-Mart dispenses everyday packaged as the birth control pill. And while it has been recently marketed under the brand names Preven and Plan B any woman with a packet of birth control pills in her bathroom cabinet actually has access to emergency contraception. The morning after pill, which is sometimes confused with RU-486 or French abortion pill', works just like birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. The only difference is when the pills are taken.
The fight for access to emergency contraception is a battle that feminists have been waging at UF since the early 1990's. In 1991, Michael Katsonis, an Infirmary pharmacist, refused to dispense the morning after pill to women, citing religious disagreement. Campus NOW demanded that the Infirmary fire Katsonis and screen prospective ... workers in the future. Following protests and a petition the university called for his resignation. Again, in
1997 women began reporting that they were being turned away for the morning after pill, or were asked embarrassing, medically unnecessary questions, and were required to sign a sexist form stating, "I will immediately begin using a reliable method of birth control." Other women reported that they were asked who they had sex with, how they met them, how long they had known them, and made to feel guilty for their actions. Women taking the community education course, "Women's Liberation: Where Do I Fit In?," taught by Gainesville Women's Liberation decided to protest the infirmary to expose its sexist practices and presented the Infirmary
with a list of four demands of which two
Now woen are again in danger of being turned away for the morning after pill. Deciding if and when we have a child is cornerstone to women's selfdeterrnination and freedom. The morning after pill is an effective, FDA- approved method of birth control. No form of birth control is 100% effective and we need all options at our disposal. Dispensing birth control pills/ emergency contraception and other forms of contraceptives is part of the infirmary's protocol, and constitute a service they have agreed to offer. Accommodating employees' religious beliefs must not interfere with of
our right to reproductive health services.
Women have had enough of the Infirmary's sexist policies regarding women's reproductive health care. Campus NOW demands:
(1) Unrestricted and unlimited access to women's reproductive health services at the infirmary, including emergency contraception, RU-486 and abortion. (2) Screening prospective Infirmary staff to ensure doctors and pharmacists will provide women's reproductive health services. (3) The Infirmary advertise the availability of the MAP and other methods of birth control in the infirmary itself and places such as the Alligator and dorms. The Infirmary will be hosting a student's question and answer session for the candidates for the position of infirmary director, including Dr. Berry during the week of April 17. Students can attend the question and answer or call the head of the search committee at 392-1161 ext. 4209 and demand the university only hire Infirmary workers who will protect women's reproductive health services. CNOW will not allow this sexism to occur and will be watching the infirmary's hiring process.
This editorial was a collaborative effort by the board, it ran in the Independent Florida Alligator, April 2000.
UF/SFCC Campus NOW rally in Tallahassee against Florida Governor Jeb Bush 's Anti-affirmative action One Florida plan with over 10,000 other Floridians. The March was a coalition action by NAACP, NOW, AFL-CIO, and FREE.
of campus NOW and Gainesville Area NOW protest the Miss UF pageant
Campus NOW secretary Cheryl Falk, above, joins a protest of the State Attorney Rod Smith in 1999.
Campus NOW President Candi Churiiill confronts State Attorney Rod Smith, left, for his mishandling of a rape investigation in April 1999. In three months, UF/SFCC Campus NOW collec.ted more than 3,5000 signatures in a petition drive which supported feminist demands.
Left, Gainesville Women's Liberation class participants protest the University of Florida's Infirmary for its sexist restrictions on emergency contraception, Fall 1997.
Below, UF/SFCC Treasurer Rhiannon Theurer, left, and Vice President Destry Taylor protest the opening of a Hooters restaurant in downtown Gainesville. Over 50 community activists participated in the protest.
At left, UF/ SFCC Campus NOW members protest at the Right to Lie Workshop on"Post abortion syndrome" in Summer 1998. The workshop's agenda was sexist and anti-woman.
Personal experience is key to organizing women into the movement
ing the rape prevention pamphlets their walls, and waiting for us to
Getting women to join and on UF' s campus that told women talk to them. We also learned that fight in chapters is key to winning to watch their drinks, not go to while great actions and honest edithe victories we seek in our libera-parties and not to walk alone at torials brought us to the group, it tion. But, how do we get more night-as if changing our behav-was the time and honesty of the women to join chapters and de-ior would solve the problem of leaders that really got us on fire, velop them into leaders? The key rape. Another woman spoke of be-and ready to work. We testified to answering this question will ing relieved when Campus NOW that a key person had spent time come from looking to why we our-came out publicly against an anti-talking to us about feminism, preselves joined and became leaders choice organization that visited our sented new and challenging ideas, in the feminist movement. campus with trailer truck sized battled out ideas with us, gave us
Annually, the UF/SFCC posters of aborted fetuses. This tasks, followed up with us, and deCampus NOW participates in a woman said she was excited that veloped us. leadership development workshop someone out there agreed with her While explanations for which includes consciousness-because no one else had spoken NOW' s declining membership raising, a Past Presidential history out publicly about the event. have been placed on the "political panel and role playing. One of the climate" or complacency, Campus CR's we did in the workshop was NOW's membership has increased. on "How I became involved in "The effort that leaders An analysis of our testimony dem- Campus NOW". We wanted to fig-spent on us resulted in us onstrates that we all joined because
ure out what made us become ac-we wanted more freedom in our tive in order to better organize feeling invested in the lives from sexist beauty standards other women into the chapter. The group, seeing our stake in more abortion rights and freedom overwhelming answer to why we change, and becoming from violence and sexual harass- got involved-because we liked leaders ourselves" ment. Campus NOW was taking a the work the chapter was doing stand on these issues, so we joined and leaders had taken the time to when someone asked us to. We
organize us. Many of us testified Like myself, most of us were excited by debate and being that we first joined because we were attracted to Campus NOW' s challenged on our ideas and formwere pissed about things in our "Pro-Woman" position on editori-ing new ones. We became sparked own lives and we wanted to fight als and flyers, because they put the to work when leaders of the group to change them. We were excited blame for rape and harassment and took time to develop us into leadby Campus NOW's public and di-back where it belongs-on men. ers. The effort that leaders had rect action on issues that affected The majority of us got inspired by spent on us resulted in us feeling our daily lives, like abortion, rape, hearing other women speak hon-invested in the group and seeing morning after pill, and beauty estly about their lives in a public our stake in change, and becoming standards. We also discovered that forum like a Campus NOW speak-leaders ourselves. some women clipped articles and out or meeting, and were tired of -Stephanie Seguin is the "tracked" NOW long before they hearing how our oppression was President ofCampus NOW ever joined. I myself would hang our fault because we didn't have Campus NOW editorials on my enough self-esteem. We saw that dorm room wall and flyers d'J'I the almost every action we did or edidoor. I was so impressed by the torial we wrote attracted someone honesty of their position on things to Campus NOW. Women were like sexual harassment and sexist out there agreeing with us, wanting beauty standards. I was sick of see-to join, hanging our editorials on
Abolish All Barriers to Abortion, Including Cost
The following speech was given by Destry Taylor, the Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action Team (ARRAT) chair and Vice President of UF/SFCC Campus NOW at a speak out at the University of Florida on January 21, 2000.
My name is Destry. I am the ARRAT chair for Campus NOW.
I used to think that Roe v. Wade "gave" women the right to abortion. Nothing was "given" to us. The right to have a safe legal abortion in America was won by women rallying, speaking out, committing acts of civil disobedience, and most of all ORGANIZING. The laws in America were changed because of the rise of the feminist movement and the combination of the feminist perspective and the mass organizing of many people. Make no mistake, it was a long hard organized fight that won us the few rights we have today. Rights that are constantly being challenged by an increasingly conservative, antiwoman government. And Roe v. Wade was a compromise of what we really wanted. Now, Roe
v. Wade did grant most women the right to an abortion, but it made abortion an issue of privacy between my doctor and me. It did not grant me full control over my body. So in the year 2000, I morning after pill. In fact I still do not have the right to con-didn't hear about it until I came to trol my body unless the state AND college. IfI had known about the
my doctor say it is okay.
I know all of us have heard the horror stories from women who were forced to seek illegal abortions but I think that is important that we not forget how terrifying and awful America was before the women's liberation movement won us the right to legal abortions.
My grandmother sought an illegal abortion in 1945, in Chicago, because she got pregnant by a man to whom she was not married. She almost died. That man was my grand father and he left her when he found out she was pregnant. He later came back to her after she had the abortion and they were married. But I don't want us to get so complacent with the rights we have today with the fact that abortion is legal that we forget that abortion is still unavailable to many of us.
The same desperation felt by women needing an abortion in the time before it was legal is the same desperation felt by me when I needed an abortion and had to struggle to figure out how I was going to pay for it-or if I had lived in one of the 85% of counties who have no abortion provider without a car, or my sisters who are under 18 living in a state with parental notification laws. Abortion might as well still be illegal for us.
In the summer of 1992 and I was preparing to attend UF and excited about my future when one night during sex it happened, the condom broke and I knew I was pregnant. I had never heard of the
morning after pill I certainly would have taken it. It would have saved me having to scrounge around for money for an abortion, having to miss class, and having to have a surgical procedure. But I was not told of the morning after pill in my high school sex education class or anywhere else. So here I was, pregnant, all of the sudden I saw all of my dreams come crashing down on me. I knew I needed an abortion -there was never any question or doubt in my mind about that. But my family was very poor and I wasn't able to work because I had to care for my six siblings so my mom could work. The three hundred dollars an abortion would cost might as well have three million.
"Roe v. Wade ... did not grant me full control over my body."
So I came to college in August hoping to get my financial aid checks as soon as possible. I was desperate. My financial aid check got held up in verification and they told me it would be 4-6 weeks before I could get any money. Never mind needing to buy books and eat, I needed an abortion and I needed one fast.
See Abortion, page 10
By then I was 10 weeks pregnant and I knew I was up against the clock. Ifyou think coming up with three hundred for a first trimester abortion is hard, try up to nineteen hundred for a second trimester abortion. My boyfriend was little to no help as he had no money just like me, he would just shrug his shoulders when I asked him about it.
I guess he just assumed I would take care of it like I had always taken care of the birth control. I finally broke down and borrowed the money from my catholic dorm roommate who I had known all of one week. That was really embarrassing. I didn't tell her what I needed the money for and she didn't ask but I think she knew. Neither my boyfriend nor I had a car and I was too embarrassed to ask any of the new friends I had made in the last week to borrow their car. I have
along with the demands to our government to stop imposing restrictions on abortions, I want men to be more supportive of us when we need an abortion. I don't want to have to argue with my partner or comfort him, I want him to support me and that ineludes standing there by my side when I have to have an abortion. And beyond supporting us when we need an abortion, men need to take more responsibility for birth control. I mean guys, JUST PUT THE CONDOM ON, or pay for whatever birth control we use, don't wait for women to take care of it. It is sexist to let this work fall on us alone.
So I went in, paid my money and sat in the waiting room alone. The clinic staff was really nice and supportive.
I didn't have the $50 extra dollars for the pain medication so I have to say it was pretty painful but it was over pretty quickly.
to say I am lucky I lived on one of Afterwards I as I was walking
the 15% (that's one in five) of the US counties that has an abortion provider because if I didn't I don't know what I would have done. Luckily there was a clinic within walking distance of my boyfriend's apartment so I called and made an appointment.
"We can organize today to win more abortion rights and not wait until the next wave of restrictions."
My boyfriend was supposed to.go with me but decided at the last minute that he couldn't miss class (a class that I also had) so I went alone. I want to say here that
back to my boyfriend's house I remember such a feeling of relief and calm wash over me. I would not have to be like my mom and have seven kids and never get to travel or barely ever get to leave the house. I didn't have to give up my dreams and go on welfare or wait everyday for the child support check that never came.
IfI had not had the abortion I
lege degree, stable income, and more life experience. For me the decision to have a child is one I want to make consciously not something I got stuck with because a piece of latex broke. And as things stand in America right now (no national healthcare, no national childcare, men taking little or no responsibility for their children) I do not want to have a child. My story and the story of millions of other women illustrate why abortion rights are so strongly tied to our freedom. It also illustrates why the abortion rights we have today aren't enough. Until abortion is free, until more than 85% of US counties have an abortion provider and until it is available to all women on demand without restriction at any time in pregnancy, women will not be truly free. If we as women are chained to our reproductive organs and denied the fundamental right of complete control over our bodies then we are not free. That is why the issue of abortion is important to all women. Why the struggle for abortion rights is everywoman's struggle. It is about the right of women to control our own bodies. It is about a woman's self-determination of her own destiny. Women and women alone should be able to decide when and if we become
would not be here speaking to you mothers, and when and if we have today because I most likely could-an abortion, and when and if we
n't have afforded the cost of childcare.
I definitely needed an abortion at the age of 18 when I was young, inexperienced in life, without any steady income but I can tell you that I would need one as much today at 26 with a col
decide to be sterilized.
See Abortion Page 17
Priorities in 20 years, and they're not lookThat's National's answer to why
Mia: I love saying to people that I ing into the future enough. There we're oppressed. am in NOW; I love telling people should be college chapters everyAmy: I've got self esteem corning things we're working for as a where. out of my nose-that doesn't mean group. I think if people really got Jenny: There have been no new I'm free!
a chance to know the issues and chapters formed since '92 or '93. Summer: Yeah, I think I am learn what NOW is about a lot of Pennie: And it's not for lack of pretty sexy and I like my body women would join. trying, I know of two chapters and who I am, but that doesn't What am I not getting that I that tried to form. mean I don't get treated badlywant? I get so much crap with Destry: What are National or ignored!-by men when I don't memberships, I email National all NOW's priorities? They seem to shave or when I speak up ... the time and when I call I get be legislative influence and pushDestry: As far as what I want voicemails. I don't get calls ing for women to become profesfrom National.. . .! feel like there's back. It's not fair for our chapter sional strong women-we are exa real strength to our chapter that to have to keep paying for long horted to be professionals, have at general meetings we put our
distance calls. more backbone, build our selfselves out there and we tell the Summer: Some of it has been our esteem. It's as though they think if truth about our lives and I don't fault in processing memberships, we all become corporate see our national officers do-
but most of it is National messing lawyers there'll be no more sexing that. Patricia Ireland seems to
up. That should be the number ism. I just got out of a 9-year rebe the example of a strong woman one thing that they have together. lationship that made me feel Fke who Mia: I think they need to be crap about myself, so am I stupid See priorities, page 12 working more with chapters, esbecause I stayed in it? Ifwe all pecially campus chapters. We are stood up for ourselves and just got
to be the leaders of the movement
self-esteem then we'd all be free!
"Without childcare, it's all just talk," founder of NOW says.
At a symposium on childcare recently, Betty bility of both parents for over 25 years and the SwedFriedan said that a national childcare system needs to ish society has taken responsibility as well, dedicating be a priority for feminists. She said that "Parenting 2% of GDP to child care programs which are availwill more and more have to be not as mother-centered able universally at a very low cost. as it has been, but a joint responsibility of both parIn addition, Sweden pays a per-child allowance of ents, and society itself. 11 $100 a month no matter what your income is. The
Friedan said that during a trip to Sweden in the price of childcare for the highest income family is 1960's to discuss women's rights, she was told that for $150 a month. all the things women are fighting for, "without childSweden also offers parental insurance for matercare, it is just talk. 11 While most European countries nity or paternity leave. This allows fathers and mothhave been able to establish publicly funded childcare ers to split between themselves up to 450 days of paid systems (similar to our public school system), we vacation or paid leave when a child is born or have still not made much progress on public provision adopted. Parental insurance also covers 60 days of of childcare here in the U.S. Child care costs an averpaid leave per year to care for sick children. age of $7,000 per child per year, according to panelists, and the cost is usually born entirely by the famThe panel discussion was held at the Carnegie Enily. dowment Center for International Peace in Washing
Friedan was joined for the Dec. 1, 1999 a panel ton D.C. Sources: The Cornell Chronicle, December
discussion by Roland Spant, a labor counselor from 9, 1999 and The Labor Party Press, July 2000. the Swedish Embassy, who talked about the childcare system in Sweden. According to Spant, Swedish citizens have looked at child rearing as an equal responsi
has made it -but I'm sure she deals with sexism on a day-to-day basis. She has to, she's a woman, and you don't hear about that and I don't see how other women are going to be encouraged to really speak about our experiences and start to really face our oppression if it seems like the national leaders have it all together, and don't talk about what's really happening in their lives. And I really don't think NOW calls men out on their sh*t. I have a real problem with that. I mean how ... we' re not going to win if the movement isn't calling for higher standards for men.
What should be a priority? Reproductive rights-from my own experience of having an abortion and from being a woman feeling like I might need one again one day, but it's too expensive and not available in 85 % of US counties.
I don't think abortion and reproductive rights are a priority for National NOW. They have a diversity field organizer and a lesbian rights field organizer -I think there should be a reproductive rights field organizer. On abortion rights it seems that clinic defense is the only line of action-how is that attacking the source of the problem?
Also, I am not hearing NOW talk about childcare. I don't see how women can possibly make reproductive choices without childcare, so I think-that's a big one for me right now. Summer: That's interesting be- cause you said you don't want children... Destry: But it's really impacted my life because I had to help out with it in my family being the oldest. So I see that as a big priority and I don't see it being talked
What have I gotten from NOW that I wanted? The fact that there is an organization to join. I like that they put on conferences, that's kind of fun and exciting. Even though I don't think change is made solely through lobbying I think that's important, to have a presence.
I'd like something from NOW saying OK, here's what our priorities are.
We saw Kim Gandy speak (at the Southeast Regional Conference) and she gave this kind of history of NOW, and she said, "What's the future of NOW for the 21st Century?" and we're all like on the edge of our seats and then she says, "I don't know!" and we're all like, "You don't know? You're going to possibly be our next president ... "I don't know but I'm sure it'll be great."
I would like them to know what their priorities are and take some national leadership on them. I want NOW to be led by the grassroots but I think we could use some direction from National NOW: OK, chapters, we're going to organize on reproductive rights. We're going to win. Here's what we're going to do. I don't feel like we're getting that from National.
We're getting the legislative update which is good because it lets us know what's going on with the bills, because I can't figure them out, Even the actions on those are like "write your senator, write your senator, write your senator." And there's 40 of them. That's a full-time job just writing your senator.
Stephanie: According to what I
could tell the priority is the media image-there's a lot of focus on that. The portrayal of women in the media and on TV -what shows to watch. Also a priority seems to be self-esteem, Watch out, Listen Up, Love your Body Day, be good role models for young girls-that's a big issue in the National NOW times. Also this Global Feminism thing: How can we can help all the women in the world, women that are more oppressed than us? At the Regional Conference, a lot of time was spent talking about how grateful other women were that we were marchingfor them. They made it sound like the World March of Women wasn't even for us here. Jenny: We can't get one little piece of abortion legislation passed, how are we going to abolish poverty'? It's not like women have all this power in the United States. It reminds me of this great Shirley Chisholm quote where she says to white women, "In order to free yourselves, you must first free yourself from the illusion that you are free." Stephanie: I think one of their big priorities should be membership, getting women to join and get involved. Also, reproductive rights. I really don't feel like it's one of the priorities. And I mean full reproductive rights, I mean I want to be able to walk down the street and get an abortion, I mean without depleting my savings account, See Priorities, page 13
and I'm sick of hearing about clinic defense as our only line of action. I've done it and it's the most exhausting, frustrating work. I don't see how it's attacking the source of why I don't really have the right to control my own body.
"I am so proud to be a NOW member. I can't imagine not doing work in the movement."
Also calling your congresspeople every single time for everything. IfI hear call your congresspeople one more time I think I'm going to scream-This is not how
. . h h
we got the a bort1on ng ts we ave
h eit erW.h h d d h
at ave 1wante an ave- n't gotten? Hardly ever see stuff for reproductive rights that's on the
level of what they do for Love Your Body Day. Big thick packets for "Watch Out, Listen Up" (the media campaign) it's got suggested chants, all this stuff in it. Ifwe could get something like that for reproductive rights then we'd be starting somewhere. I want encouragement to have membership drives, get new members and prompt membership processing-we have a lot of problems with NOW processing memberships and I want that from them. I feel like I'm a bad feminist because I don't love my body-the website said 'love yourself inside and out.' The first thing I thought was, 'Yeah, Stephanie, don't be such a sap, sit up straight and love yourself.' I have all these other things to do and on top of that I
have to up my self esteem and be this great, strong person and this great role model for every single little girl in my life. I don't see how that's going to make us more free; I get treated differently based on how I look-and that's not in my head. Pennie: I am so proud to be a NOW member. I can't imagine not doing work in the movement. Women forget how we got where we are. I still remember when the classified ads were segregated, not only by race but also by gender. It was the Women's Movement that got me and my mother the right to divorce, go to school, and have an abortion; women couldn't even
have their own credit cards.
Today, National NOW has too many priorities. I think the focus should be abortion rights and better
d. . + At h con 1tlons 1or women. t e Nashville conference, they wanted
ak " ,, f th
to t e women out o e ERA! I want NOW to fight on things that
affect us every day-child care, health care, equal representation in government. Amy: But they do work on "Elect women for a change." Pennie: Yeah, but I mean parity, not just elect women! If53% of the population is women, at least 53% of the Senate should be
women, by law, one man and one woman from each state.
What's missing? Good oldfashioned militancy. More inyour- face action without apology. We should be screaming.
There's not enough class consciousness in NOW. Pie-in-thesky academic women in another world-like they think they're not oppressed at all and are going to do all these things FOR those women down here.
Candi: What has my chapter gotten from National NOW I wanted? Being part of a national women's union. People know the name of NOW, women are proud of the name of NOW. IfI move I could start a NOW chapter or I know where there's a local NOW nearby.
What do I want from National NOW that I haven't gotten? I want a serious commitment to organizing young or new women, as well as women of color and women from different backgrounds, not this token thing.
I want more good feminist nationallycoordinated campaigns ... pro-woman feminismstrategy on how we 're going to win more.
What else do I want? More resources to the chapters. Good feminist nationally-coordinated campaigns. More pro- woman feminism-like women are smart and guys are the problem. Strategy on how we're going to win more.
Better National NOW Times. In fact I'm embarrassed by it. Summer: None of us can get all the way through it and we're all feeling guilty that we don't read it. Amy: Occasionally you find a good article in it and you get all excited because it's relevant to our lives, but usually I can't even bring myself to read it. And I love to read-especially about feminism.
See Priorities, Page 14
Candi: What have I gotten I didn't want? The Love Your Body Day campaign, I feel, blames women and also it's a campaign that campus chapters are encouraged to work on. I feel that's probably why people who want to organize for feminism aren't founding a NOW chapter because that's not what they want to work on.
Also the "nice police" thing. I feel that debate is stifled and at the last National NOW conference I didn't feel like I should feel in a movement event. You're battling out the ideas because you care about them. I felt like I had to tiptoe and smile-it was like I was around guys! Fighting for my liberation I should not have to worry about being nice and coating everything with a pound of sugar. Jenny: It's so true. At National conferences there is sue}). a low level of criticism or debate. We need to be able to focus our organization. At National NOW conferences we have 25 resolutions, for example. So many resolutions get passed. The hard fights don't occur about where the money is going and where the resources are going because that would mean we would have to say one thing is more important than another. So we don't and the board and executive board makes those decisions, virtually unrelated to what went on in the conference. Candi: What are NOW's priorities? I really feel like I'm clear on it now: everything. Everything. There's a blur of priorj: ties. Violence against women, lesbian rights, racism, fight the right, abortion, anything and everything.
What do I think the top priority should be? It should be abortion rights. Women understand femi
nism got us this advance. It turns most women on to the movement. That's when we had our biggest growth was working on abortion rights. And we also need to be demanding that men do their share in birth control.
Organizationally, I think the top priority should be to develop and encourage leadership. National should encourage debate, encourage members and chapters to come with what they think our priorities should be. And Rhiannon said it well, a vision. Where we're going and why.
As a chapter, without direction from National NOW, it's difficult to decide what to work on. Ifwe had prioritization, coordination and information and vision from National, this would help us figure out what battles to pick. And our work would have more of a punch if women all over the nation were waging similar battles. Mia: NOW needs to be working more with us-we will be the leaders 20 years from now. College chapters are not encouraged. National is not accessible.There should be an 800 number for chapter leaders.
One of the things I'm doing as new membership director of Campus NOW is putting together a new member packet-why doesn't National NOW have this already? Natalie: National NOW doesn't have priorities and that's the problem. They're dabbling in everything. What should the priorities be? Membership. National is not accessible. I didn't know about it until I got to college and that's too late for a lot of women. NOW could be cultivating leadership. There should be campus chapters at every institution, then we'd have more pull.
Grassroots lobbying is where
it's at-if we have those numbers we'll be effective. We don't have the numbers so we're watching our rights trickle away because they can pass all this legislation. So now we're having to fight battles we've already fought. It's reactive rather than pro-active.
Accessibility is a problem. I know there's a sliding scale, but ... it's hard to have a movement that works for you if you can't participate. When I got my membership card, I got another letter asking for money. I would have rather got a membership packet or encouragement to get involved locally. Amy: You know I was shocked to see childcare-the right to have a child-not on National NOW's list much since 1969. Looking over NOW' s original priorities, childcare was number one.
See Priorities, page 16
Health Insurance Companies: Undermining Women's Independence
The Women's Liberation Taskforce for National Health Care exists to spread the word about how national health insurance would help us reach some of our feminist goals.
As we've been doing consciousness raising and workshops around the country, we've learned more and more how our job-based private health insurance system is a terrible obstacle to women's independence and freedom. We and other women tell stories of how life decisions are influenced by the need for health insurance. How? Our health insurance is largely based on employment or marriage. This means we can't get out of jobs and marriages when we want to because our health care-and the health care of our children if we have them-is dependent on them.
We've learned that as women we
are making up for the deficiencies in our for-profit health care system. We are primarily responsible for the unpaid long-term care of dependent family members, and we get very little help from socially provided programs or men. With comprehensive national health insurance, the bulk of this caring work would be paid, and we would no longer have to bear the financial burdens when a loved one needs care. Many other countries provide assistance to those who need care in the home and they don't require people to pay huge sums to get into "good" nursing homes. Instead, all this is provided to everyone free through a national health system.
We've also learned that while we in the U.S. are struggling to get insurance companies to cover contraceptives, and to get Medicaid to
cover abortion, women in other countries have won battles to have these essentials provided free to all through their national health systems. Imagine not having to worry about money as an obstacle to abortion, the pill, or childbirth. Rather than fighting hundreds of small exhausting and defensive battles on health care, we now think it's time for feminists to strategically combine our demands and "go for what we really want" as Kathie Sarachild put it in the Redstockings book Feminist Revolution. The idea of going for what we really want takes into account that when we go for really big changes, while it might be called "too radical" or "too difficult to win" by some, we will actually gather greater support and momentum because the changes stand to benefit most people.
Most people in the U.S. are underinsured, uninsured, or paying way too much for insurance. And people in the U.S. are living shorter lives than people in most other developed nations. Life expectancy is higher in Germany, Italy, France, Japan, Canada, and in many other countries with national health systems where care is provided to everyone through a public fund. U.S.-based insurance companies, however, have tried to encourage cutbacks on health spending in these countries, and they spread a lot of propaganda about how these public systems don't work, and how wonderful the
U.S. system is. We need to raise hell about the U. S. health insurance mess before these corporations further undercut programs overseas that have given so many women a measure of freedom and security.
Feminism has a vision for a world in which the work and joys are shared fairly. The work of caring is part of the work feminism is fighting to share more fairlybetween men and women and between the rich and the rest of us.
Winning universal health care in the U.S. would be a big step towards this goal. For these and many other reasons we think national health insurance should be a key priority for feminists, and for NOW. Join us in opening up a strong feminist front in the struggle for national health care. For more information send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: The Taskforce C/O Redstockings Archives Distribution Project
P.O. Box 2625 Gainesville, FL 32641
(352) 378-5655. Or Visit <www.afn.org/-redstock> for ordering information for a Redstockings activist theory packet on this issue. We also invite organizational sponsorships and individual contributions. Redstockings, Gainesville Women's Liberation, Florida NOW and UF/SFCC Campus NOW are all sponsors of the taskforce.
Priorities bilize hundreds of thousands of peo
ple, like the marches on Washington We went from calling for national and Tallahassee for abortion in the childcare and more fair distribution of early '90s
work between women and men to a call for women to fix themselves. Today, NOW seems to be focusing on fixing self esteem in individual women.
The priorities should be abortion and reproductive rights, fighting for universal programs-like healthcare and childcare-that shift the burden of unpaid work off of women and distributes it more equitably.
Also, the priorities should be
Women must conhol the means oF repwcjuction 1
left and right, NOW needs to be ex-
Also connection to lots of other
women. I'm moving but I can get involved in a NOW chapter when I go to Tennessee. I just went online, emailed this woman. And National NOW collects dues, has officers, and a national paper. Summer: NOW has too many priorities- I don't know WHAT they are.
NOW sent out this calendar and I was so excited, I wanted protest pictures and signs and women taking action and being angry and instead it
was all pictures of nature.
Stephanie: It looked like a tampon
Summer: NOW needs to focus more
on our male partners-telling them to
shape up-and more focus on our
lives in general. We need NOW to
make a smart analysis based on our
experience as women. This blaming
women has got to stop. I get sexism
building chapters and recruiting more members through consciousness raising and traveling organizers serving the chapters. Organizers could spend time with chapters, holding regional retreats and workshops, teaching CR. CR is a great tool to get women more involved, when you can feel the outrage of how you are oppressed and want to act collectively, the movement is so much better off.
What have I wanted that I haven't gotten? More analysis of women's condition-they should be able to churn out position papers and tell us facts on women's conditions. For example, how many women ha'7e children, how much we're paying for childcare, who's working full or parttime ....
What have I gotten that I wanted? Strong national structure that can mo-
posing this. NOW should focus on reproductive rights without compromise- contraception and abortionhealthcare, and 24-hour, funded childcare. Sandy: NOW's priorities are all over the place. I think priorities should be reproductive rights, including birth control before and after. I include childcare in reproductive rightssomething needs to be done politically on childcare because parents can't afford it and childcare teachers are underpaid. Seems like National NOW does a lot of stuff with the Democratic party, which is good I guess, the Democrats are better than the Republicans, but...we need help figuring out what we are up against. How do we know what should be a priority?
Cheryl: They have weak priorities. The legislative action focus, I
don't see it working at all. Priority should be membership and chapter growth-support for the younger people in NOW. I also work in Amnesty International-they have a 25-year plar with visions for growth. So we (Amnesty International) know where we're going. Sometimes National NOW doesn't seem like it's the same group as the chapters. Lori: The priorities lack emphasis. There's too much emphasis on right-wingers and legislators. Not enough emphasis on our daily lives and male supremacy as the root of our oppression-childcare, sex, housework, emotional work. I want NOW to take a radical digging approach that goes for what women really want. Do we really want to just not go backwards on abortion? No! We
want free abortion on demand with no restrictions.
What have I wanted that haven't gotten? I haven't had the opportunity to learn and grow as a leader and an activist, like I do when I participate it consciousness raising. What I get at local meetings, strategy brainstorming, outweighs what I get at national conference. It would be so great to get that there too, then I would grow even more.
I have seen National talk a little bit about childcare and getting help from society to pay for it, which is good, but they still aren't talking about how men need to take responsibility for that.
In National's approach they need tc ask "who benefits?" Who's paying from the situation? And what do we really want with abortion, to just kee1 what we have? Or do we want abortion on demand without restrictions?
Candi Churchilll, 24, is the immediate past president of Campus NOW and currently a member of Gainesville Area NOW. She studies and teaches sociology at the University of Florida.
Amy Coenen, 32, lives in Tampa, Florida, and coordinated the Gainesville Women's Liberation study group of which this testimony was a part. She is a nurse.
Summer Colella, 23, is membership Vice President for Campus NOW and a full-time student.
Mia Dellanini, 23, is a senior at the University of Florida and membership director for UF/ SFCC Campus NOW
Cheryl Falk, 21, is a UF student and Secretary for UF/SFCC Campus NOW
Penny Foster, 47, is Gainesville Area NOW Vice President and a working woman and
mother. She has been a NOW member since
Natalie Maxwell, 19, is a University of Florida student and serves as the Phonetree Chair for UF/SFCC Campus NOW
Sandy Scruggs, 26, is a public health nutritionist and Campus NOW Historian
Stephanie Seguin, 22 is the president of UF/
SFCC Campus NOW and a paid organizer for
a childcare teachers' rights organization
Destry Taylor, 26, is a microbiologist and UF/
SFCC Campus NOW Vice President
Rhiannon Theurer, 20, serves as both the Consciousness- Raising Chair and the Treasurer for UF/SFCC Campus NOW.
Lori Tinney, 27, is a past President of Campus NOW, current activist in Gainesville Area NOW. She is a case worker for a non-profit organization.
The laws in America were changed because of the mass organizing of many people. We can organize today to win more abortion rights and not wait until the next wave of legislative restrictions to get out there and demand our legal rights. Abortion rights are important to all women because they are about justice for all women.
Women need the freedom to decide when and if we have children without any governmental control of our lives or our bodies. We need to take a pro-abortion stand. We need to demand repeal. We will not get what we want by compromising and we will never get more than we ask for. We need stop waiting for the next round of restrictions to fight back. It is in every woman's self interest to fight for complete control over our bodies.
Women, the feminist movement is fighting for YOU to be able to decide when and if you will have children. We need this right! And we have to work for it.
-Destry Taylor, Vice President and ARRAT Chair of UF/SFCC Campus NOW
We invite high school and college chapters and other new or young feminists to contribute to an expanded editorial collective.
We need your articles and pictures and information about what you are up to!
Please contact: Florida Young Feminist Task Force, do Campus NOW P.O. Box 2235 Gainesville, FL 32602 (352) 377-9935 email@example.com
Funding for this issue was made possible by Florida NOW Young Feminist Task Force, and Campus NOW fundraising Donations appreciated to help continue spreading the word about feminist activism. Back issues available for $.75.
Membership Application : Note: This section was not transcribed.
Redstockings today ...
Women's Liberation Studies Archives For Action Pamphlets, broadsides, journals, and audiotapes from and about the freedom organizing of the 1960 ' 'S and afterwards.
To receive a catalog, send two first-class stamps to:
Archives for Action Distribution Project, P.O. Box 2625,
Gainesville, FL 32602.
BUJ:LDJ:NG ON WHAT'S BEEN WON BY KNOWING WHAT'S BEEN DONE
"Redstockings" was a name taken in 1969 by one of the founding Women's Liberation groups of the 1960's to represent the union of two traditions: red for revolution combined with the "blue stocking" label disparagingly pinned on 19th century feminists.
Florida Young Feminist Taskforce c/o UF/SFCC Campus NOW
Redacted text. Campus_NOW@hotmail.com WWW.CampusNOW.8m.com
Brandishing these slogans, radicals of the Women's Liberation Movement awakened mass feminist consciousness.
Because women's work is never done and is underpaid or unpaid or boring or repetitious and we're the first to get fired and what we look like is more important than what we do and if we get raped it's our fault and if we're beaten we must have provoked it and if we raise our voices we're nagging bitches and if we enjoy sex we're nymphos and if we don't we're frigid and if we love women it's because we can't get a "real" man and if we ask our doctor too many questions we're neurotic and/or pushy and if we expect community care for children we're selfish and if we stand up for our rights we're aggressive and "unfeminine" and if we don't we're typical weak females and if we want to get married we're out to trap a man and if we don't we're unnatural and because we still can't get an adequate, safe contraceptive, but men can walk on the moon and if we can't cope or don't want a pregnancy we're expected to feel guilty about abortion and .... for lots and lots of other reasons we are part of the women's liberation movement. Anonymous quote from the British Women's Liberation Movement
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