by The Editors
Challenging the personal, political and economic realities of women and pushing toward a more liberatory future is the essence of many discussions in On The Issues Magazine, both in print (1983-99) and online (2008 on). As our current edition notes, The Day After the elections, women will need to keep moving beyond the bonds of what is “possible” and go for “it all” in order to take control of their futures and the future of their loved ones, communities and, yes, the whole world. Below is a selection of our past writings that lend insight into the next act and what to do.
The Politics of the Possible, Winter 1994 by Katherine Eban Finkelstein. Writer Finkelstein looks at the successes and disappointments for women from another president then running for re-election — Bill Clinton — and offers clues for feminist strategy today:
“The question now is not ‘What can Clinton do for us?’ but ‘What can we do to ensure that women really make gains under the new administration?’
“Clinton’s appointments have been 40% women, to date. This good news was overshadowed by his mishandling of several sensitive nominations. When Clinton withdrew the Lani Guinier nomination, one rap star said he had ‘whirlpooled’ on Guinier. Clinton discarded two successive female candidates for Attorney General over the ‘Nannygate’ issue. And he’s shown a disheartening willingness to compromise on the issue of gays in the military. Columnist Julienne Malveaux expressed the disappointment and anger many women felt when she wrote: ‘President Clinton has the backbone of a jellyfish and the disingenuous character of a prevaricator.'” Feminism Is As Feminism Does, Winter 2011 by Merle Hoffman. In an edition called The Conning of the Feminists, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher Merle Hoffman grapples with the question of a feminist response to ongoing outrages and what it means to be a feminist:
“The ‘big tent’ of feminism is not about gender. It is not about age. It is about the vision of social justice that feminism represents. Today, as has always been true, there are many women who do not look like feminists (or what someone thinks a feminist looks like) but who do embody feminist values. “I picture all the women and young girls fighting for justice in whatever way they are able, in their college classrooms and in their workplaces; at their computers and iPads or out in the world. I embrace them. But I will always challenge their thinking, because they are not what they wear, who they fuck or what they buy. They are what they think, and what they do about what they think. In the words of Barbara Strickland, ‘What I am proud of, what seems so simply clear, is that feminism is a way to fight for justice, always in short supply.'”
“How could the recognition of domestic violence as torture make a difference? Feminists understand the power of naming — naming can trivialize or clarify. Calling severe domestic violence ‘torture’ or ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment’ inscribes the gravity of domestic violence and emphasizes the urgency of response.
“It signals to battered women or partners that this violence is not their fault or shame, but someone else’s very serious criminal act. It asks people to think differently about what we have euphemistically called ‘domestic violence,’ with the hope that growing condemnation of this badge and incident of patriarchy will lead to more thoroughgoing efforts to transform the patriarchal, militaristic culture that perpetuates this violence.” Nuclear Revival? Lessons for Women from the Three Mile Island Accident, Spring 2011 by Karen Charman. The environmental dangers from nuclear power continue today with more health concerns about Fukushima and problems from “fracking.” Charman writes:
“For the first time in several decades, serious attempts are underway to build new nuclear power reactors. The public is told that nuclear power is a clean energy source needed to combat global warming, which is caused by burning coal and other fossil fuels…. (I)t’s important to look carefully at what happened at Three Mile Island, to date the most serious accident at a commercial nuclear power plant in the United States” The Cruel Lie: Bombing To Liberate Women, Summer 2011 by Debra Sweet. Discussing the deceptions that brought the U.S. into deadly wars in the Middle East, Sweet warns women not to be fooled by government propaganda:
“The idea that the U.S. occupation could even tangentially improve the lives of the mass of women in Afghanistan did damage, in that it confused people into supporting an unjust, immoral war by the United States to control a strategic country in its own interests. Malalai Joya told me recently, ‘In Afghanistan, the people have three enemies: the Taliban, the fundamentalist warlords, and the occupiers. At least if one gets lost, we can deal with the other two. Justice loving people in the U.S. should demand that government end this brutal war.'” Twisted Treaty Shafts U.S. Women, Winter 2009 by Janet Benshoof. Recognizing that gender equality is a global human right is described by Benshoof, who exposes how the right-wing has undermined the provisions of an international treaty for women’s rights.
“A revolution in the structure of legal guarantees to gender equality in the U.S. will see the adoption of international treaty law and engraft it to be above our constitution. …. But this legal revolution must be preceded by a revolution in the way we think. The mantra our politicians chant is that somehow the United States has a superior structure of rights and equality. They seem to believe that laws have just come off track due to the right-wing appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court and other correctable misadventures. That thinking is wrong. “The fact is that gender equality is a right that transcends national laws and constitutions and the cultural norms of any country.”
New Revolutions We Need was the theme of our entire Winter 2009 edition, with leading writers, thinkers and artists sharing their bold and provocative ideas for a feminist and progressive future in a series of stories — each is worth reading.
And The Ecology of Women, Triggering a Revolution in Women’s Health Care, Spring 2011 reminds us of a trailblazing writer and health activist Barbara Seaman, whose memory is a fitting model for activists today. Well known author Barbara Ehrenreich gives a lusty description of Seaman’s approach as “noisy, unstoppable, and, when necessary, downright disruptive.”
Also see: The Book Corner: Women Define the Agenda, Find the Power by Samuel Huber and the Feminist Press in this edition of On The Issues Magazine
Also see: The DAY AFTER by The Editors in this edition of On The Issues Magazine.
Read the Cafe for new and updated stories.