Poll: What issue should be the first priority for feminists in 2005?


19 comments posted
Answer D - Most of the above

Refocus on the Equal Rights Amendment, ERA. This changes the basis of the debate. It cuts the religious issues right out and refocuses us on why we entered this swamp - not to fight alligators, but to drain the swamp. Drain it and the alligators go away. Fight the alligators and we are in a pillow fight with the right wing extremists.

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 3 January 2005 - 8:23am
"we are in a pillow fight

"we are in a pillow fight with the right wing extremists."

Well said!! ::applause::


gballsout's picture
Posted by gballsout on 16 August 2005 - 5:31pm
I've always considered myself to be a feminist...

and that's why much of the above sounds so correct. But I find one thing troubling: in claiming hegemony over a woman's body, you forget the responsibility a woman has to herself and perhaps the life she is carrying. (Hear me out.) If a woman chooses to carry a pregnancy to a certain point--say the third trimester--is there not some responsibility she bears to the life that she has to this point chosen to bear? It's always seemed to me that that absolute hegemony is a selfish argument. I, as a man, must accept responsibility for my sperm leaving my body. Woman seem to have a longer time to make the choice--since the consequences are so much more profound and great. But at a time, a choice must be made. And with that choice comes responsibility. My $0.02, I guess, but just a thought.

BTW--I remember voting on the ERA in Iowa some years ago (a strange year of my life). I recall the ads saying ERA meant unisex bathrooms (what do you have at home?), witchcraft, and baby cannibalism. What a crock!

TizzyD's picture
Posted by TizzyD (not verified) on 4 January 2005 - 10:14am
Hearing you out

I agree. The key word is responsibility. The jab at the anti-abortion group has been "the right to life begins at conception and ends at birth." The government insists a woman have a baby and then won't pay child support. What cads!

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 4 January 2005 - 10:22am
Whose responsibility?

I agree. The assumption of anti-choice, however, is that women are irresponsible and thus the government must move in and seize the woman's body. Trust me, no woman takes abortion lightly, not even the women taking the more extreme rhetorical positions. As much as men may feel discomfort and/or outrage over an abortion, the woman feels it much more intensely.

There is common ground -- reducing abortions to the point they don't happen at all. But what is the best approach? To provide women the means and education so that they can avoid getting pregnant without planning? To provide women the means to prevent pregnancy after sexual assault? Or to deny women all of these things, and then criminalize all alternative recourses women might have?

-media girl

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 4 January 2005 - 11:06am
>>>trust me, no woman takes a

>>>trust me, no woman takes abortion lightly, not even the women taking the more extreme rhetorical positions.<<<

Bullshit. Some women use abortion as a form of birth control. I'm against goverment intervention. I think she'll regret it when karma bites her in the ass when she's older. :)

Chris's picture
Posted by Chris (not verified) on 10 January 2005 - 2:13pm
3rd trimester abortion

Uuumm, can I get a statistic here about how many women sort of *forget* that they are pregnant and remember only until the 7th month and then get an abortion? Isn't this more likely the result of problems that arise for the woman carrying the child or the possibilities of severe birth defects of the child? It's pretty damn expensive to wait that long to abort, not likely the choice of a *careless* woman, even if she didn't notice she's pregnant, it would be awfully hard to pay for an abortion that late. If she really doesn't want the child, she might as well wait and give birth and give the baby up.

My other point is this: We have Constitutional protections, such as the Miranda rights for our citizens. Well, Miranda protects us all from a police state except it didn't arise from a case where a man was innocent, he was guilty as hell. but again, it protects us all. And people need to stop bringing that shit up and pretending it's a reasonable argument.

Know what I think? anti-choice women need to give up their wombs in times of need. when a woman believes for whatever reason that she cannot carry to term, we scientifically remove the fetus and implant it in one of them. I mean, it's all for god, right?


gballsout's picture
Posted by gballsout on 3 September 2005 - 5:34pm

How can you possibly divorce all these issues from one another? As far as I understand my own feminism, these issues are all tied together. It seems unlikely that you can focus on one, and not another. Doesn't the moral issues question tie into women's bodies? And women in other countries? And doesn't reframing the debate on moral issues involve the men (and complicit women, I suppose) who run our government right now? And doesn't our governmental system reflect the distrust of the leadership of women? And how can we work to block judicial nominees without also working to remove the people who nominate them?

I simply can't believe that as women, we could choose to put any of these issues on the back-burner. One becomes another becomes another.

manogirl's picture
Posted by manogirl (not verified) on 4 January 2005 - 2:14pm

I suppose I should have added an "all of the above" option. Chalk that up to too much healthy suspicion of standardized tests. But I'm glad you added that here. It's all of a piece.

With all the hard work at dividing and labeling feminists into what seem like special interest groups, maybe someone should add the gestalt perspective to the Wikipedia. (It's a wiki, after all!)

-media girl

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 5 January 2005 - 12:49am
my "other"(you can only choose one????)

Anti-prison expansion; building community among and generally empowering marginalized people, you know this song...Though I like that "change the moral values" debate idea. We need paradigm shifts that the other side can't move to block as quickly as the Same Old. Not to be quite so Manichean abt it...

Caty's picture
Posted by Caty (not verified) on 5 January 2005 - 10:57am
Only one

The poll module is configured for radio button selection, not checkboxes, alas. :no: So I made the question about what's first.

-media girl

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 5 January 2005 - 11:54am
You wanted a rant...

You got one. I‘m going to be a little extreme here, but don’t lose the over-all message. All of those are approaches to the symptoms of of gender discrimination (don‘t call it “sexism� - the s-e-x- word makes the guys stop listening) and approaches we should use to fight them, but the first thing we need to do is pull our heads out of the collective ass. We are 53% of the population. We do most of the work, bear all of the children, comprise most of the poor and suffer most of the violence. The only way we change it is to work together, and stop apologizing for who we are.

This movement got sidetracked when we started caring about being taken seriously. That turned the married women into apologists who don’t want their husbands to think they don‘t love them, as if wanted to be paid a fair wage is somehow a betrayal ; single women into anorexics that pour billions of dollars into diet pills and gym memberships and designer shoes trying to attain unrealistic standards of beauty that aren’t beautiful and have nothing to do with our perfectly feminine and wonderful bodies; lipstick feminists against the queer women, because “boys won‘t like us if they think we’re all dykes�, white feminists against minority women because upper middle class white girls don‘t usually experience the same kind of in your face oppression that poorer or darker women have to deal with as a matter of course; the women who never had access to good schools consider the “upper middle class chicks� to be elitist; and the mainstream movement is against the Goddess feminists, because they don’t want to seem unreasonable and Goddess worshippers are “extreme�. We wouldn't want to offend our oppressors, now would we? They won’t think we‘re serious if we don’t play by their rules. (Never mind that the rules were designed to keep us down in the first place. But don‘t bring that up - that’s all in the past, right?)

Where did that get us? Nowhere. We make less this year than last year in comparison to men. We may lose Roe. We are no safer, no more secure, and the little bit of a safety net poor women had is gone. Teenage girls can be drugged to unconsciousness and gang raped and the courts do nothing about it. The rape shield laws are a thing of the past. One in three girls is sexually assaulted. 3 Million children in this country are homeless. Hunger is making a comeback in the good old USA. The number one cause of death among pregnant women in this country is MURDER- by a spouse or “lover�, naturally. We have one enemy, known as Patriarchy, and it has conquered us by dividing us. Their religions to set the stage. Their laws that our mothers had no part in writing. Their law enforcement, their military, their courts, their history, their dictionaries, their universities -all designed with the presumption that we are inferior and subordinate, decreed by law and ordained by “God�, enforced by ridicule, indifference, rape, violence, poverty and marginalization.

YOU AREN‘T EVEN HUMAN. A human being has a right to sovereignty over it’s own body and is endowed by it‘s “Creator� with unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Which one of those covers dying in childbirth? Hell, yes, we need an ERA. We need the simple autonomy over our own bodies that most creatures never question.

We need contraceptives that won’t give us strokes or tumors. We need to be educated, to be safe and to know how to prevent our contracting AIDS. And we need a dollar‘s pay for a dollar’s work and not one penny less. We need a President. (Hillary will do , but I‘d rather have a Democrat, if you know what I mean.)

This is not about sexuality. It is about domination. It is about a booming slave trade in this country and throughout the world where women are bought and sold as chattel like they have been for the last few thousand years.(Abolition didn’t include us, either.) It’s about girls in other countries being systematically mutilated and our government says nothing about it. It‘s about the fact that a group of mostly rich old white men think they need to tell us what we can learn, whom we must birth, when we must die.

Our greatest weapon right now is our blogs. We are the majority on line, too. We have unprecedented access to information, ways to communicate and organize, and ways to raise money and direct it. I’m not seeing, though. I don‘t feel a sense of unity, or common purpose. I don’t feel like we‘re comfortable with our own diversity. I think we spend too much time evaluating ourselves and each other and not enough time educating people around us. I think we let the “feminist� guys slide a little too often. We need to use ridicule in a much more effective way. We need to put our money where it counts. We need to complain like hell and not wither if they call us bitches or Witches or feminazis. fat or ugly or anything else. Women in power need to give other women a leg up, and we need to demand that they be accountable to their sisters. And I haven't even addressed relationships, child welfare or custody yet.

We have the numbers. Do we have the will to use them?

Rant over. Peace.

Morgaine Swann's picture
Posted by Morgaine Swann (not verified) on 6 January 2005 - 3:27am
Getting our heads out of our collective asses

Why has "feminism" seemed to have failed? When I got involved in the Women's Movement in the early 1970's, it was called Female Liberation.

The watershed was 1981 when we marched on Washington - we all wore white and purple - the Suffragette colors, don't you know - and we asked for and GOT an extension of the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Three states short of the 38 states needed, the Amendment failed ratification before the deadline.

I ask, if we are 53-percent of the population, why wasn't this amendment passed? It would have made everything easier. "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights."

To make sure that folks knew Jefferson-Franklin meant "all men" to mean "all people," as in "we the people," we asked for ERA to make sure no one forgets that fact.

Yet, as I asked, why has this amendment not passed? Slaves did not vote and were not 53-percent, and yet they were emancipated. Granted there was "the recent unpleasantness" that forced the issue, but THAT only happened because the red states took themselves out of the loop and they learned never to make that mistake again.

My take is that there is something biological going on below the radar. Women can't seem to get it together to demand equality. Do we want equality? What is equality? Some significant proportion of women, for whatever reasons - good or not so good - are quietly not supporting the ERA along with a few female talking heads that the news media owners have propped up on the networks.

What biological factors are preventing us from feeling comfortable about being equal? Does equality mean we have to be identical to men? "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men created identical." Not so self-evident. The reactionaries will have us believe that equality means turning us into clones (something they fear, clones) and that women will be submerged into a men's framework.

So the majority remains silent on ERA, exercising a collective pocket-veto.

Is it we need to convince more women or more men - granted BOTH - but who's holding out here and why? We got the right to vote and there were ONLY men who voted on that one. Were our grandmothers and great-grandmothers so much more active than we? What did they do to pull that one off?

Let me close by suggesting that since I am one of the few of the so-called Second Wave feminists around, "what's wrong with ERA?" I suggest the answer lies there.

If we can answer that question, I think we'll have answered the riddle of the sphinx.

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 6 January 2005 - 6:25am
Why couldn't we get the ERA passed?

I think that's the obvious question that gets to the heart of the matter. But I question that the answer lies in biology. There's no reason to think that it's biological and not cultural or psychological. We're talking about breaking thousands of years of cultural tradition -- no, not tradition, that's not strong enough -- cultural definition.

Maybe it's estrogen vs. testosterone after all. But somehow I feel there's something else going on here, a blindness we have as a culture among blind cultures. When we've believed the earth is flat all along, to shake that notion takes more than a few essays and a march on Washington. And probably more than a few people getting attacked and locked up for bad thinking.

But this thread I think is getting somewhere. More! More!

-media girl

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 6 January 2005 - 12:22pm
It's all in the conditioning.

Wow, I just started posting here, and I really apologize for being so wordy.

I think there's been confusion in what the ERA means. We let people confuse the subject by focusing on who's holding the door open and whether marriage and feminism go together. Most of us still grow up expecting Prince Charming to save us and make it all better. Who wants to give up the Fairy Tale? The Right convinced people you'd have to if you wanted equal pay or a promotion. It's not true, but not everyone is politically savvy enough to see through that. We did a poor job of explaining that being a feminist doesn't mean you can't wear make-up, that you hate men or that you're a radical or communist. Again, using the word "sexism" made it seem like a social attitude rather than an issue of political and economic fairness. Maybe we should re-word it. "Women are People." period.

Also, equality equals responsibility. Who wouldn't want the option of not working if they didn't have to? If you can get a free ride in exchange for child-rearing and house-keeping, why not? Now, I don't see anything wrong with that - working moms work hard- but it's not as scary as dealing with the working world, especially if you've never done it. Any sexual harassment that takes place at home will at least come from the guy you chose. The work place isn't necessarily that safe. Also note that as women moved into the workplace, we have also developed the same stress-related illnesses that used to affect mostly men. A lot of married women get married so they won't have to work, and that's ok, until they aren't married anymore.

I've known married women that wouldn't rock the boat until they were divorced. When everything's ok, the idea of single women or poor women being cheated or exploited is an abstract concept. When your Ex is off with a younger woman and you're left with three kids and no skills, suddenly "equal pay" means something. Unfortunately, earning a living and raising kids leave little time or energy for organizing. We count on young women, in schools and universities to keep the flame burning. So what happens if they never encounter overt gender discrimination? They think it's a thing of the past. I've had knock-down, drag-out fights on line with younger feminists who were young enough and well-off enough to make a difference who insist that there just isn't much discrimination any more. They'll never see the inside of a factory, dance in a strip club, or stand in a welfare line. Why should they care? They think the term "patriarchy" is antiquated, which means they're ill-equipped to challenge its basic assumptions.

We also have an entire culture that is built to hold us back. The majority religions in this country preach varying levels of obedience within marriage. How many people ever question their religious training? How many people never make the connection between what goes on in church and what goes on in bedrooms, boardrooms and courtrooms? The legal system still basically treats wives and children as property. We're taught to be good little girls in school, we still don't get equal support in math and sciences, and it is still a new experience for most of us to have anyone listen to what we have to say. As we've found our voices and raised daughters in a slightly better world, the media has become our enemy. They've got us obsessed with emulating genetic anomolies instead of breaking through glass ceilings. MS. Magazine sold us out to be taken seriously, and lives in fear of offending anyone.

No political movement ever got anywhere by being afraid to offend people. We need to learn the one word that brought down the Soviet Union: Solidarity.

And as for the Estrogen vs. Testosterone issue, it's no accident that it was two women who stood up in congress today and challenged the vote. None of the men - even the ones that would have been President and Vice President- stepped up.One woman started the bus strike that ultimately ended segregation. Look what the Suffragettes went through to get us the right to vote. It doesn't take balls to get things done, it takes ovaries. We just have to remember that.

Morgaine Swann's picture
Posted by Morgaine Swann (not verified) on 7 January 2005 - 2:47am
Venus and Mars

Right on, girl! There are deeper cultural issues than just the obvious stuff. Equal protections under the law, though, would be a great start. Will we ever see that? I don't know. I wonder if men, even liberal men, really believe that women are equal in this world.

Sometimes I just don't understand men at all. Why nobody else would stand up even for the principle of having fair and accurate elections in a democracy, I don't know. There's obviously some powerful shit happening behind the scenes to scare off everyone. I don't know if that's gender based, but it sure is disappointing.

Be wordy, rant away, you are welcome here. The more dialogue, the better, in my book.

-media girl

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 7 January 2005 - 4:24pm

Protecting a woman's right to her own body is so basic, it just has to come first. I work as an advocate for victims of domestic violence, and I can tell you that a nationwide rollback in women's reproductive rights via the supreme court would validate the thinking of every violent, sexist idiot out there. Until people quit arguing over who owns women's bodies, we ain't goin' nowhere.

anonymous lurker's picture
Posted by anonymous lurker (not verified) on 6 January 2005 - 3:32pm
the label

Part of this loss of feminist movement does come from women afraid to say they are feminist. Limbaugh did a good job of rattling the already shaking egos of women by calling it "Feminazis". How fun is that? Suddenly our demands for equal pay, the rights to our bodies and the rights we shouldn't even have to ask for of respect of our opinions and the way we must manage our daily lives. Now, if you are such a woman, a feminazi, you get grouped in with mass genocide. As if the right not to killed by your lover is actually equated with such a horrible thing. It was brilliant, really. I know tons of women who believe in all of the above, but will not call themselves feminists and be active simply because they are afraid to be labled as such.

I do believe Roe is headed for extinction. In '92, I went to the march on washington and was handed a pamplet called "Do it yourself abortion" with instructions on menstrual extraction (which would cut down the length of your period with prejudice) and explained that underground groups of women would learn it so they could provide safe and inexpensive abortions to women. I thought, and still think, it is the most powerful piece of information I have ever had in my hands. I still have the pamplet tacked up over my desk.

Does anyone know if it is "legal" to post this information somewhere? I mean, sure, freedom of speech and all, but I'm broke and can't afford a lawyer to fight out this for me.


gballsout's picture
Posted by gballsout on 16 August 2005 - 5:48pm
Ooops. I should have

Ooops. I should have googled that before asking. the best site I found is here: http://www.io.com/~wwwomen/menstruation/extraction...


gballsout's picture
Posted by gballsout on 16 August 2005 - 5:55pm