WGBH Journal; Adrienne Rich
Feminists have too easily accepted the charge that white middle class women, or bourgeois white women, are rather despicable creatures of privilege whose oppression is trivial beside the oppression of black women. We know that politics lags behind the pace of change. Does the failure of political organizations to nominate women, mean that they won't risk anything new or different? or that they exaggerate the impact of the Mrs. Schlaflys who deprecate the capacity of women to play an equal role. The voices of poet Adrienne Rich and commentator Louie Lyons.
Welcome to GBH Journal. I am Bill Canvess. On today's show we'll have more from poet Adrienne Rich and commentator Louie Lyons. Rich spoke last night at the University of Massachusetts in downtown Boston. Amy Sands was there and brings us this account of the evening's events. White people who were trying honestly to face and change their racism often run up against that paralyzing emotion guilt. Guilt for the historical crimes committed by the white race against people of color. Guilt for our own personal insensitivity to the black, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian people that we know. White women in Boston's feminist movement have been discussing for some time now just how to get past their guilt and develop more and stronger bonds with Third World women. Third World women in the feminist movement have simultaneously been reaching out with both anger and gentleness. Last night about 100 Third World and white women and a few white men gathered at the University of Massachusetts building on Arlington Street
to hear lesbian feminist poet Adrienne Rich speak on the separations between black and white women. In her conditions article, Barbara Smith says that she would like to encourage in white women a sane accountability to all the women who write and live on this soil. Speaking as a white lesbian feminist I would add that this accountability is virtually useless if nourished by guilt, correct politics, self-hatred, or if it is felt as accountability to some shadowy other, the black woman. Women in revolt against the etiologies of slavery and segregation have too often worked from a position of female powerlessness while men in power have charged us with female emotionalism instead of a sense of justice, dismissed our
voices of protest because we had no collective leverage of our own to bring to the struggles we undertook. Now throughout the world, women are moving out of false consciousness, building a vision of possible reality in which we lay claim to our rightful and innate powers. But we have to come to grips with the meaning and extent of separation in our lives for this vision to survive even as vision. Lesbian feminist writer Adrienne Rich, speaking in Boston last night. I'm Amy Sands.
And now we hear again from commentator Louis Lyons, who appropriately enough discusses women in politics and then takes a look at the events in this week's news. The appointment of Muriel Humphrey to the vacant Senate seat of her husband follows a sentimental tradition of American politics. It's only to the next election in November. Should she then decide to stand for the remaining four years of Hubert Humphrey's incomplete term, Minnesota voters will face a question whether a vote to confirm her in office is as widow of their favorite son or recognition of our own exceptional qualities. A vote for in November will be an easier decision for the Minnesota voter because of the coincidence that Vice President Mondale successor in the Senate will be up for the regular six year term at the same time, so they can vote for both. She would not be excluding the normal candidate. Till November anyway, Mrs. Humphrey will be the only woman in the Senate. So far almost the only women to
occupy high public office have had their start on her husband's name. Ella Grasso of Connecticut was called the first woman governor elected in her own right in 1974. She'd worked up to it through the office of secretary of state and in Congress. She was joined in '76 by Dixie Lee Ray, who won the governorship of Washington after proving her professional competence as chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. The United States Senate has had no woman member since Margaret Chase Smith of Maine. With her Mrs. Richard Neuberger of Oregon served briefly. Wach got her start as the widow of an elected politician. Mrs. Neuberger was appointed to the Senate for the one incomplete term before she moved out of the state. Mrs. Smith moved first into her late husband's seat in the house in 1938. But she went on 10 years later to win a seat in the Senate that she held til her defeat in 1972 at age 74. The House has
had only a thin scattering of women, notably Edith Queen of Oregon and Louise Sullivan of Missouri, who both attained enough seniority to hold significant chairmanships. Currently the women House members seem to bunch up in New York. Elizabeth Holtzman, Shirley Chisholm, and Bella Abzug who dropped out to run for mayor of New York, but now has got herself nominated to return. But a generation after Eleanor Roosevelt, the places women have won in public life are sparse. Male politicians, president or governor, pay homage to the new sex conscious climate by appointing a measured proportion of women with much acclaim. But so far women haven't made much of a dent on elective office on their own. Few have built a broad based constituency. Louise Day Hicks spearheaded a very special constituency that carried her to a term in the Congress, but it had too narrow a base to provide any future. Even the former head of the National League of Women Voters can resign in protest from Governor Dukakis
cabinet without causing any political waves. Why haven't women made more political advance on their own other than as widows legatees or as pawns in the game plans of politicians? We know that politics lags behind the pace of change. Does the failure of political organizations to nominate women mean that they won't risk anything new or different or that they exaggerate the impact of the Mrs. Schaffleys who deprecate the capacity of women to play an equal role? Can Muriel Humphrey with her warm human quality and broad experience of political life enlarge political entry for younger women who still have their careers ahead of them? Well both Senate leaders have now committed themselves to support of the Panama Canal treaties with such amendments or a statement of Senate understanding as will ensure American right to defend the canal and have priority over the movement of warships through it.
Senator Byrd the majority leader appeared before the Foreign Relations Committee himself to take the lead in support of the treaty. He and Senator Baker, Republican leader, in a meeting with the committee leaders, persuaded them to move the treaty to the Senate without change, so that any changes will have to be argued only once on the Senate floor. The treaty is expected to go to the Senate early next month. But a long debate is anticipated. The leaders have been jointly working on parliamentary procedure to minimize the effect of obstructive tactics. The agreement between the leaders on changes, they expect will make it easier for some senators to swing to support of the treaty in spite of polls that show strong public opinion opposed to it in its present form. Both leaders have said it could not obtain the needed two thirds without change. The end of the week finds the feuding between Sadat and Begin cool enough so that a renewal of discussions is expected. The great expectation of early agreement is gone. The most hopeful prospect now is of negotiation settling
down to a slow process. The blow up had the effect of emphasizing the Palestinian issue as the bottom line of any agreement. A proposal of Professor Stanley Hoffman one of our wise students of Foreign Affairs suggests a temporary answer. He proposes a period of trusteeship under the United Nations for the disputed West Bank and Gaza Strip. For an interim of several years, he would have the area open to controlled Palestinian occupation and open also to full discussion of all possible options for a future government of the area. He would not exclude from participation in the discussion any Palestinian element or any ultimate choice of governance. Well we may hear more of this or some variant of it. Now that it's over the week carried New England weather beyond the conversational stage. A phenomenal week starting with the heaviest snow since weather records began, then torrential rain to turn snow banks into flooding. And then yesterday, a May
day of temperatures that would have brought the tulips up if they could have found their way through the soggy snow. And to top it off, freezing again, as our weather today swings back to a January norm. Now we shiver at the news of blizzards that have paralyzed the whole middle of the country. Floundering through such a week, has blinded our interest to most other news. And preoccupation with the weather may have made it easier for the government to hold back information about the disintegration of a Soviet satellite over northern Canada, and to minimize the danger from the nuclear reactor that propelled it. For this government, also, has floated nuclear fuel satellites into the stratosphere to maintain perpetual spying systems against a potential enemy. But the findings of the decontamination teams combing northern Canada for radiation cannot be suppressed. Strong radiation was detected in the Canadian far north, described by the searchers as 'too strong to have come from a natural source of uranium. A 90 percent chance that it
comes from debris of the disintegrated satellite,' declares the Canadian defense minister. The emissions, he says, are either from remains of the space vehicle or from the greatest Uranium mine in the world. Washington is emphasized, rather the cooperation of the Soviets in providing information about the satellite, after our tracking station discovered it had fallen out of its orbit, to inevitable re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. Inability to guess where it would strike, if it didn't wholly burn on re-entry, is the explanation that is given for keeping the potential disaster secret, even from the civil defense agencies and from other governments, except a few allies. The leak of information, we are told, might have promoted public panic. Had the radiation now discovered in its remote landing have come in a populated community, it would admittedly have been a disaster. But governments prefer not to spread knowledge of the nuclear reactors they have launched in the upper atmosphere, at the risk of
present or future generations. We are assured that an, in an American satellite, fueled by nuclear energy, the reactors are safely encased against accidental leakage. The Soviets evidently thought that too. Delicate political relations between the superpowers keep our government from coming clean about such nuclear dangers as the week's incident revealed. Moscow, of course, doesn't have to tell the Russian people anything. Those Congress leaders who are in the know, feel bound to keep secret what they are told is for security. They acted the same way about the CIA, and FBI, until the license, this allowed those agencies, exploited in scandal. But Canada and Germany which have no control over the Nuclear Gamble, but feel they may be its victims, sound as though they are now going to be heard on this issue. Both the national and state budgets were announced this week. The president's budget mostly followed the expected lines, indicated no great change. Governor Dukakis'
budget restores a level of state aid to cities and towns that they'd been denied during the three years of the state's stringency under the Dukakis administration. This should make it possible for the localities to hold their property taxes from going higher, if not to cut them back from their record height. More state funds are allotted to public schools. More to elderly affairs in the form of home care, and more of what are called Human Services, to alleviate the very inadequate provision for these services that their administrators have been complaining about the past three years. (music) (music) (music) And so we come to the end of GBH journal for today. This last Friday in January. The show is produced by Marcia Hurts. The engineer, Gary
- WGBH Journal
- Adrienne Rich
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