Five College Forum; Commencement Addresses by Shirley Chisholm and Betty Friedan
While on May 24th 1981 Mount Holyoke College and Smith College conducted their annual commencement exercises in the next hour this program will present the addresses delivered by the guest speakers at both colleges. Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm at Mount Holyoke College and feminist writer Betty Ferdinand at Smith College of three. For him Surely each of them distinguished exemplar for active women everywhere in a long career of public service. You have repeatedly broken new ground for participation in the political process a cum laude a graduate of Brooklyn College with an advanced degree from Columbia University. You began as a nursery school teacher and as an educational consultant to the Bureau of child welfare in New York and slowly and steadily laid a
foundation of trust in the black community in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn. That trust led to the neighborhood's insistence that you run for the New York State Assembly. The confidence of your constituents has never wavered. Why they chose you not only as the first black woman from Brooklyn in the state assembly but the first black woman in the Congress and they have returned you to Congress in six successive election as a freshman member of that body your resistance to your appointment by the leadership to the Committee on Agriculture by stating unequivocally and publicly that the only reason they put me on that committee is they know A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I was not only daring but prescient of the increased democratization of the party progress process in Congress that you have helped to establish in the years that followed that most unusual challenge to the immutable folkways of Congress could have crippled your
effectiveness that it did not. It's evident in your current service on the Education and Labor Committee. Your original choice and the critical rules committee in your career you have always enjoyed the loyalty and strong support of women because you exemplified the lesson you have told us your grandmother in Barbados preached to you from morning to night. The virtues of pride and courage and fame Mount Holyoke commend these virtues and welcomes you with a full heart here today. And therefore by the authority of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts vested in the trustees of my college I confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Law and Order Of couse with it or
do. My letter to the graduates of Mount Holyoke College June May 1981. They are graduates. As you prepare to leave here today you are undoubtedly filled with emotion. It is a time of great happiness for each of you has completed the task that you came here for. It is a day of anticipation as you embark upon a future guided by your own hopes and dreams but marked with uncertainty. It is
also a time of sadness because you are leaving the many friends you have made here. And the institution which is charged is your home for the past four years. But most importantly it is a new beginning in that each of you can now proceed to bring to fruition your own personal career and occupational objectives. You now have the capacity to take the knowledge you have attained from your books and your professors and mold that education into what tool with which you can begin to carve out your place in our society. And while each of you have different pursuits and different aspirations I hope that all of you share a common concern for your fellow human beings and that you will use your education to help to really build a better world. H G Wells warned us some 60
years ago. That Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe. And I caution you that unless you have in your hearts a willingness to apply what skills you have refined to careers and objectives which are borne out of social responsibility then on our society's investment in each of you has been wasted and we will move closer to that final catastrophe. There is an old but nevertheless meaningful at each stage to those to whom much is given much is expected. And so while each of you can rightfully take pride in the accomplishments all of us are celebrating here today you must of course be ever mindful that you have now entered a special group in this country that is particularly vital to our future. And that most Americans your age do not have your
education and your opportunities. We face an ever present crisis of energy resources. We are confronted with an escalating arms race in which this nation and other world powers are stockpiling armaments and atomic weaponry under the insane rationale that doubling and redoubling our ability to make war will somehow enhance the prospects for peace. And meanwhile we have yet to be able to accommodate the problems of the unemployed the poor and the minorities who have been victimized by circumstances they have no control over and do not really often understand. The road to full economic recovery has yet to be traveled by our new administration. And I have a fear that we will be dealing with the economic consequences and recessionary trains of the past six years in this nation
for a long time to come. And yet one of the multiplicity of problems that we as a nation are now facing. There is also an impoverishment of spirit which has taken hold and its cause many beautiful young people to reject political involvement and the goals of progressive social change. By contrast we can take a look at American youth during the 60s and they believe James Baldwin when he said not everything that is faced can be changed but nothing can be changed until it is faced and that activists period in our history taught all of us but the young people of this country then organize the then inspired can become a politically powerful force to be reckoned with. It was after all the involvement of the young people on many college campuses during
that decade which eventually resulted in an end to this country's tragic involvement in the war in South East Asia. It was black and white young people working together and marching together which helped to bring the cause of civil rights into a national focus. Once the searching questioning young people in groups like Common Cause and environmental action who demanded that our government become law to comfortable and more honest to its citizens. But now at a time when a renewed spirit and the revitalization of our people is most needed the National Parent still seems to be demoralized. The enthusiasm once evidence among young people has turned to disgust or apathy.
People from all ages and I'm from all points of the political spectrum have minimized their civic and political involvement because they truly believe that it is almost impossible to make any meaningful changes in our system. They do not heed the timeless warning of Edmund Burke. Then he said that the only thing that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. I stated earlier that I truly believe that the primary responsibility of the educated individual in our society is that he or she must translate the knowledge gained by the educational process into a commitment to share the opportunities which a balun in this country and other words my graduating friends your education has a context not just a political one but also a
social one and a moral one. And when I look out into an audience like this one and I attempt to anticipate your hopes and your dreams I am struck by the potential which exists and I believe that the key to maintaining social involvement and remaining idealistic throughout one's life is in maintaining a youthful vitality. The late Robert Kennedy himself an example of young vitality once defined youth in words which I feel are even more true today. He said that you is not a time of life but a state of mind a temporal who will. A quality of the imagination a predominance of courage over timidity and the appetite for adventure over the love of these qualities are what I really believe we will need to help propelled this ship of state as we embark upon our third
century nation. I am certain that our country will face great crises in trials during the next four years and I know that all of us have a monumental task ahead. But I also believe that we must begin to travel the road to a rebirth and rejuvenation in this country. The United States of nineteen eighty one is at its crossroads of confidence. It will be up to you not those of my generation to assure that the goals of our government of our nation are the purest the most moral and the most democratic. Do not assume that you are polyps that you cannot make an impact. Be as bold as the first men or woman to eat an oyster. Many of the great endeavors throughout history have resulted from the actions up and commitment of one individual i.e. Rosa
Parks social progress and social justice are functions of society which can be brought about by those who make the decision to apply their knowledge their energy and their talents to our national goals. I am convinced that America will stand or fall or fail. Progress or falter on the merits of the efforts each of you individually will put forth. I hope that all of you will recognize that the opportunities which is presented to each of you if you leave academia is the desire to contribute positively to making a better nation and a better world. Not just for yourselves but for those who have not enjoyed your experiences. You leave monkey polio the day I ask that you ponder just how you will wear the mantle of responsibility which accompanies the achievements we are
celebrating here today. You will do your best when you set the highest standards and goals and. Then make every effort to do what the Greek philosophers admonished us to do centuries ago. That is to taint the savageness of all men and to make gentle the life of the world use the knowledge and the God given intelligence you have to learn as much as you can about what is going on not just in this country but throughout the world. I ask questions demand answers do not just tend your garden and collect your paycheck and bow the door and deplore what you see on television. Still many Americans are doing that already.
Instead you must live in the mainstream of your time and your generation. You must use the education that you got from reading the fine print and the experience you got from not reading it. You must call upon the knowledge and the self-discipline that you have acquired to together forge a new path and to seek new solutions. After the tired ones of the pasta failed but I sincerely believe that there will be those of you in the store this afternoon who will seek new solutions who will give of yourselves you know to make this country and this world a better place. I hope that you can be counted in that group and that you will not lose courage or heart when you attempt to change our society for the better. In conclusion just let me leave these final words with you. Let all of us together right now ignite our
inner fires of commitment idealism and determination because depending on the Bohemians of those feelings future generations behind you will live to look back with gratitude at your strength. Or they will suffer the consequences of your weakness in these final years of the 20th century. God bless you and the best of luck to you and whatever endeavor you will pursue. Thank goodness.
Thanks Congresswoman surely Chism speaking at the 1981 commencement ceremonies at Mount Holyoke College on the same day in Northampton Massachusetts. Feminist writer Betty for dad addressed the graduating class at Smith College. I now call on Betty free Dan Smith class of 1942 Doctor of Laws 175 for that best president of the National Organization for Women a pioneer in the womens movement to deliver the commencement address. Thank you. Thank you. Women persons family of Smith. I'm glad to be able. To speak to you today that you've invited. Me to speak today.
This is a very crucial time I thought to myself in the middle of the night when you know you have to give a cheerful speech at Commencement How can I possibly give you a cheerful hopeful optimistic speech today. And you know it you're in a very curious place in a curious time. There are those who think you take it all for granted all the rights all the marvelous choices all the options that you enjoy. Did you think that they are you or do the world is your own Easter that your own exceptional ability has won you those things that nothing further has to be done and you don't even realize that they come to you not from your own ability alone not as great as that may be but because of that many years of battle that long centuries long line of women's movement preceded you. I don't think that's true. There are those that say you will be super women. You will be a new breed of women and you're going to go on you know and be corporation presidents and before the Century out we're going to have a woman's
president and no problems. And then there are those who think that the women's movement is over that that nation has turned in reaction and of though we can't quite figure out how it happened in another few years you'll be home again and it will all be a dream. None of these things is true. Your situation is much more complex. I believe that we indeed have come to the end of the beginning. That you must move into the second stage that the first day of the sex roll revolution that has changed the lives and the possibilities of life of women commentated in the modern women's movement. For me it's the seeds of it were probably planted here nearly 40 years ago in my fifteenth reunion in 1957.
Appalled. At what I later came to call the feminine mystique that was working against the very seriousness and truth of education that the women were receiving here. What Ann did for me in the women's movement began. We have have we have had now 20 years of women's movement. But we cannot continue in. The next few years. You cannot continue to live in the terms that we fought in the first stage of modern feminism the modern women's movement. I don't have to tell you that you are facing a period of reaction without you know indeed that the Equal Rights Amendment in little more than a year will be over for this century and not just a symbol but as the constitutional underpinning of the very opportunities that you have enjoyed and expect to enjoy in the future. And you know that the very laws
that already embody some parts of the principles of equal opportunity are themselves already under threat. As hearings are held in the Senate for instance to abolish affirmative action and while indeed you do have many more choices it seems some of those choices are not real and some are more complex than anyone realizes and the very multiplicity of choices is the problem. And your very choice to have a child is not real and a safe legal medical access to birth control and abortion has just been threatened in a in an active reaction that is charitable in its own over Joan's punishment of woman. Violence against women and of the life a human life that is woman. But I do not think that we can buy this reaction from a
bra. This reaction at large in the country and those who are if you will misuse it. The issues of women's equality misusing the very choices that we have begun to one misusing sexual issues and sexual politics if you will and the diversion from the real problems threatening the securities of American families today we cannot fight this reaction unless we transcend. And the first stage the premises the terms the rubrics and transcend the remnant of feminist reaction and false feminist polarization that still afflicts our consciousness. There is we must. And I thinking because this is a place of fun and it's very important that we begin to ask some new questions even if we don't have the answers. Even if those answers seem inconceivable in our thinking we
have to distinguish between a false polarization. We have to transcend certain polarizations that happened in the first stage but that are going to lead us indeed to dead ends. Further the degree of equality of opportunity we've won and that you expect to enjoy will not be able to be preserved and you will not be able to live it unless we get on to these new questions. Above all and I say this flat out. And I do not want it misunderstood. So it's very important you understand what I mean. We must transcend this seeming and false polarization between feminism and the family. We must understand that women's rights equality of opportunity for women in education employment finance in the rest and the Equal Rights Amendment the absolutely essential constitutional underpinning of his rights is essential today for the survival of families.
Now I don't want anyone leaving here to say Betty Friedan is saying we must go back to the family we must retreat to the family I am not saying that at all. I must say we must move on. We must move on to come to terms with a dynamic evolving family that our own equality makes possible and we must do that in order to live enjoy and defend and preserve equality. I am not saying that we cannot or would ever dream of returning to the family of The Feminine Mystique. To the to the sort of the role of the passive dependent housewife which was a deal a denigration and an insult to the intelligent women for instance that were even while they were writing housewife on the census like which I did in my time you know and who knows if you are not in some years of your time. The reality of intelligent Smith women that were housewives was very different from that
denigrating image. But there is no way that women today for reasons of economic survival of families if nothing else can return to even play acting a dependent subservient passive role of housewife which where woman is quote unquote just a housewife where she is defined in terms solely as a man's wife children's mother server of physical needs of husband children and home. That image that defined and confined our image our possibilities our potential energies nearly 20 years ago when I gave it the term The Feminine Mystique. But we have to be we're being locked in a reactionary feminist mystique. Feminism the gut reality of mainstream feminism has opened life and the possibility of life for women men and children. But the reality of feminism in no way as opposed to the family.
In the first stage because we were the very ability of women to work outside the home and get a decent wage of and get access to professions whether women were housewives whether women were working outside the home was held back. By that image of woman the feminine mystique that defied women solely in terms of the passive subservient housewife role in the family are thrust in the first stage of feminism had to be on the personhood of woman. And I'm breaking through the barriers this that the simple barriers if you will of sex discrimination in the society as well as those barriers as we interjected them in our own consciousness that kept us from moving as people in our own right and fully demanding the equality of opportunity that was our human birthright our American birthright that Feminine Mystique we had to get rid of it we had to break through it that we had to break through the limitation to affirm our pleasure and that of women. And the thrust was on the things that we did. As individuals
as individuals in professions and in all that field outside the home that had been called and defined man's world and where women moved only as exceptions and freaks did the menial housework. We had to make ourselves visible of that world we had to break through the barriers we had to uncover all the buried history the double standards that existed when women were invisible as people in their world. But there was a danger. There was a slight danger and the media exaggerated it. But some of our own ideological mistakes in our own rhetoric carried the danger to have a reaction so strong against the feminine mystique that if you will there was a tendency to throw out some of the the baby off with the bathwater. Just a little bit. That from giving defined soley in terms of obsolete narrow definition of woman's role that wasn't really possible to live in the new
80 year lifespan and in the new economic demands of society we even if we were still living in terms of families of facing choices and decisions about children and in it in existing marriages are facing questions about marriages our consciousness the part of it that we turn to spam is I'm focused on these other questions. And then there came to be the image that somehow famine is I'm against a family as if you know a narrow definition of feminism family didn't blonde and. Again this play into reaction. Or reaction took some ideological mistake are ideological oversimplification that seemed right for a while they sounded revolutionary. They expressed our anger. Women had a right to feel angry if they were put down. They were put down as they were in the office in the classroom. Even in some subtle ways in this very university although
this college was less guilty than most. Nevertheless it couldn't it couldn't be completely me me immune from what was in the culture. There was journalism here. There was even Simmons's of probably have sex discrimination unconscious even though the basic basic the basic thrust of Smith always was to take women seriously as people when nobody else did when it wasn't fashionable. When even feminism had been buried in consciousness. But. The anger that women like dependent people have been taking out on their own bodies and in self aided self-denigration and lenses that the doctors got rich not curing and then shake it out overtly and husbands and children. Now this anger was out in the open and in the political idiom of the sixties it was easy to make a kind of a sexual politics out of the basic movement for the personhood and the equality of women until it began to seem a war of women as a class of press
down with man of the class the pressers down with the family down with motherhood down with marriage down with everything women had ever done to attract man or down with everything that man the Patriarchs the male chauvinist pigs ever done. And you know the excesses of this they were probably before your time. But they they gave what I consider a bit of a false image to. Women's lib a term that I don't use because I think it's imbued with that image. The thrust of the women's movement was the personhood of women and was the equality of opportunity that was essential. I am concerned with our ability with you our ability to live. Back equality and to preserve it. We have to realize that if we place a Feminine Mystique which denied ignored did not allow us to think in terms of the aspirations and the potentials of women which are not defined by her role as wife and mother. If
we were placed out by a feminist mystique there denies the aspects and attributes of the personhood of women that through the ages have been expressed in nurture our own needs to love and be loved. The realities of family which are the human nutrient for us all. We short change ourselves our potential our personhood as women. The task for you is to put it all together. Am I saying then that I expect you to be superwoman. I expect you to get out of that trap of being Superwoman. You see what we've had today. We are not yet transcending that awful either or split that pendulum swing from feminism to Feminine Mystique back and forth back and forth which in effect brought the first century long struggle for women's rights to a halt after the vote was won in 1920 because
those first feminists the suffragettes. Our foremothers did not confront the realities of the family. There is no way that you can live and preserve the equality that you want. You desire that we have fought for and the degree of which we have now though what is endangered you cannot live this with out coming to new terms about the family. The next still be a feminist. The next stage of the sex rule revolution of which the women's movement was only the first stage cannot be seen in terms of women alone and certainly not in terms of women against men. Nor can it be lived in superwoman Jarvis. What are you going to do. Are you going to follow the example of Dress for Success. You know to get your Mark Cross briefcase and all the rest of it and your suit enough for Dora
or whatever the thing to be worn this year and strive for success as law partner. Dr. Sen What have you competing as you can now compete in the world of business in professions competing according to see hundreds a success based on the life patterns of men who had wives to take care of all the details of life. And Secretary to say or not to buy your wife pregnant right. How did the success rate in terms of men whose whole identity was based on beating the competitive rat race and at the same time meet the standards of home and family set in germs of the lives of women who had defined their whole identity their whole status their whole power in society in terms of the perfectly controlled the perfectly controlled family and who had all the time in the world to do it because she
wasn't expected to do anything else. And then are you going to try to do this more docilely even then the man in the work world because you're good girls. You know you're achievers your success. You got all A's in school you know and you're not very confident of your ability to do it so you're going to try to do it better more docilely in a way than a man and being just a sort of passive you could be if you follow that superwoman image just as passive in your service and success as the old Feminine Mystique housewife image was supposed to be passive in her selfless service. Children at home. You know even the men are saying no to that image which is killing them. Which is making them die 10 years younger than the women Mary age. Are you going to give up. What I do believe are the feminine strengths the strengths that we had from women as women whether or not they're in our DNA and RNA I don't know I'm not a biologist but they are somewhere there in our socialization
that has made us sensitive to the needs of our life and to feelings and to our own needs into certain aspects of human experience that the men were sheltered from and didn't conceptualize. Will we give up those strengths. Our own evolutionary strengths for they are heart attacks and strokes. I hope not. But then we have to ask some new questions and set some new standards for instance. What about the choice. To have children. Do you see. I know that some of you and I've talked to some of you you observe. V for T. Shall we say and the pressure and the stress of your superwoman older sisters and you say. Well. I can. I don't know that I can have children because I mean how can I have children. I mean I'm not going to hand them over to somebody else to raise. And you know I mean I think you have to be a perfect mother. And what kind of a life.
And I really am interested in my work or I don't want to even think about this don't talk to me about equal rights I mean because if I think about equality too much I'll have to think about some of these other questions and I frankly don't see how I can put it all together. You know I don't want to be like my mother but who do I want to be like you know I mean this this this this kind of question the choice to have children. I am worried about women today who are coming up against the biological clock. 35 38 40 42 and have not a really good choice to have children. I fought for the choice to have children. I was the one that first set in the woman's womb. We must confront the person or woman requires that we have safe legal medical access to all forms of birth control up to and including at this stage of technological development a safe legal medical access to abortion and this must be confronted in terms of the personhood of women.
But there truly still have children. It is goes much further then safe legal access to our kinds of birth control. The choice to have children is a positive value do you have a choice to have children. When your paycheck is needed for the couples survival for the couples good standard of living and you are locked into a profession that you're maybe lucky to be in by where in fact there is no good provision for paternity and much energy leave. And where there you are not sure that the job the opening the Residency the chance of partnership will not be foregone if you take some leave or even if you can work out the leave thing where the hours of work seem so inflexible that they cannot be combined with childrearing and then who is going to take care of the child and even if he is willing to do more than help you really signed with blood and equal parenting partnership got Traktor now. He's also locked into the same hours of work and he can't get it he is just beginning to
think that he might ask for paternity. Now we are not going to get. We are not going to get. The flexible hours the flexible benefits the flexible leaves and the childcare options we need in terms of women alone. It is not going to be won or achieved to forget for a moment the political reaction even without it it could not be won or achieved in terms of women alone. The second stage there has to be an equal partnership with men there has to be a new sex role for man as a basic element of the faith. The choice to have children. I am not saying that every woman has to have a child to fulfill ourselves. We are going to find much more out in the second stage of ways that we can be generated through an 80 year lifespan. Other than having children after having children and before having children but the choice to have children is a positive value a value that has relevance through the ages. That is the mystery the awe the reverence of
motherhood is more than a mystique is more than a mystique. It is liberated to be a truly human joyous responsable chosen motherhood by the safe legal access to birth control and abortion as a last resort. But we must transcend some of our own political mistakes in the abortion battle to fight the hypocrisy and the demagogic thing that we are getting from outside. There is something questionable as you know I don't have to tell you about. Groups that use the word life and say they are for life but seem only be to be concerned with life be in nine months. In the nine months before you know your moves on the earth. And you want to take away the protections of children against being and women against our violence and abuse and men then to say women must even be pay a penalty and be punished after they've already been punished by rape and incest.
There is a questionable nature and high reef you have to let. Them and you must refuse to let them preempt that term for life. We are for life. We are for life. A world of life is a human life. A child's life is a human life. The ability to choose when and whether to have a child and to bring only a wanted child into the earth. This is essential to life. Our reverence for life traditional for women is part of our strength of women but we do not say that this should be specialized to women any more than men will have this nurtured. In themselves as they share the childrearing. But I think that we should never let our selves be put in a position where we are for abortion against those who are for life. We are for the choice to have children and that has to be a choice. And at this stage of the game when the pillow when
ID can have such you know unforseen bad consequence sometimes our woman's health and what's a myriad of other aspects of the current stage of technological development that choice to have children require safe legal medical access to abortion as a last result and we know realistically as they know that women will continue to have abortions whether they make it illegal are not. But if they make it illegal those women will endanger their lives. Poor women especially their lives and their future choice to have children by butcher coathanger abortions. But in fighting for the choice to have children we must also with the new alliances. A man of Labor man a business man of professions men across the political spectrum who put the interests of life first. We must also move for the restructuring of work the restructuring of jobs for flex time and leave benefits that
that do not now exist. These are not impossible to see at a time when inflation is making the value of even wage increases almost worthless as soon as there are one. It is going to be more and more feasible to get union cooperation business cooperation in getting some of the quality of life and the quality of work life issues into union contract into profit and to professional standards. But again not in terms of women alone. Only an excuse not to give women a job only gets used to add cost on the thing and not certainly in terms of women against men because the man of your generation can be just as interested in these things have more control over their life have more time for family and other values as you are. The quiet movement of American men is the other half of what has has been happening in the last 20 years you know. The the the. These demand the man are saying in my new book
which I just finished last week the second stage so you're getting a preview. You know that but then the man said A man said to me Oh I've heard for the last ten years as women women when one woman a woman what does it mean to be a woman how do I fulfils myself as a woman. They even make man talk about women. Well what about me. He says all I have is my job and it isn't a very good job either. They are ready to move a lot of them. Sure some of them are resistant or hostile. So why are some women but all of the polls show in the polls don't lie that some of the basic life issues and changes here are shared by the real majority the real moral majority. Do you know in in America child care child care. How on earth are you going to say you're going to say to me how on earth can you have any hope that we can get anywhere on childcare when in fact all the services the social services for the young and the old and all growing living things are being
cut out. In this Reagan budget you know and I think you have to tell you frankly that it doesn't seem conceivable in the near future that we are going to get massive public federal funding of programs for child care. But we are going to have to innovate new churros of community control community oriented parent controlled parent oriented child care in order to live the dreams of equality in our economic necessities in the years they had a four report recently released by the Ford Foundation says that by 1990 only one out of four young mothers will be able to be a floor to stay home with children full time. I would like. That to be a real choice for woman or man in the early years in children's early years. I would like to see some form of child allowance or tax rebate or voucher system which which could be used to
put a value on the work that is involved in child care on whoever takes primary responsibility. Q What if the if the family is going to. Make a decision and for those years in that those germs and then if they decide that they're going to share the responsibility for childcare and of the bread winning then let them use the voucher system to help pay first for childcare from how multiplicity a pluralistic range of outside sources you know Church College company union the new school buildings of the local school system. There is a lot of ways of doing it. There's a lot of ways of giving tax incentive for it. If we could have felt with some despair a few weeks ago that this government may have become completely unresponsive to the we needs in the will of the people at least the Senate vote recently 96 to 0 church turning back the cutting down the drastic slashing and in old age social
security should give us some hope there. Here is a way that we can make our needs and desires felt as women or as the young parents that you will be there is a way. One of the ways we will begin this month that for the Equal Rights Amendment we are going to start the kind of countdown they did with the hostages on June 30th there will be 365 days to go before they dream of equal rights is over for our constitution for this century. And your energies will be half to spare. They will have to be spent on top of the problems of your families of your war art which already takes superwoman energy that makes some women wish they could forget the whole thing and go home again except to where and who's going to pay for it. On top of that you're going to have to spend energies fighting fighting fighting just to stay in place stupid to dupe as you keep getting pushed backward and backward from where we've already won.
We've already won. So where is the hope then that you can fight reaction. How are you going to do this in mice. You know how are you going to do it to save the right to say when the Equal Rights Amendment to bring about a political miracle in a political change in the face of the reaction today. Wow. I'm going to call you to something that is very much a part. Of the smith tradition this education that you and I have share that it is more important to the movement of woman in the largest case get two things to us to me and I think to you because it took me seriously as a person as a woman made me take myself seriously and it made me believe that it was my responsibility and my possibility to affect my society. In the words of the Hebrew prophet ancestor of my people if
I am not for myself who will be for me. But if I am only for myself. What am I. The tradition of social responsibility is the part of the uniqueness of Smith education. It probably is not an accident that so many of those who have helped carry this wonderful life affirming movement the women's movement have come out of Smith. But what about the next stage. There is nothing guaranteed about it you know. It has gone so far before. And been turned back it is gone so far before and been turned back. One of the reasons that perhaps there isn't enough energy being put to equal rights amendment today or to see if the right of choice and childbirth is that women are so burdened are so burdened with the double burden of that workplace under obsolete standards and the whole without changing the standards without restructuring the
job without restructuring the home. Now I want to tell you something I want to share a new part of the buried history with you. You know that the first wave of the battle for women's rights was turned back after 1920 because of not confronting the concrete problems of family of combining family and work the rights on paper didn't mean much the legal right the political right to vote didn't mean much when women didn't have economic rights. And what happened was that a few women had careers implicitly forgoing marriage or at least motherhood. And a good majority of American women continued to marry. Have families have children and the implicit assumption was that they would not go into serious professional careers. And then we had the fertile soil for the feminine mystique. I discovered in the course of my research for the second stage that in the 1920s here it's. Right where we are now just before.
That. First Wave came to a standstill. There was an institute for the restructuring of work and home the very sort of thing that I discovered you know inventing the wheel all over again that we must move on now for the second stage. A woman named Ethel Potter house. Who Laird was one of the leaders of the battle to win the vote and she had she married in her late 30s and had urged children in her early 40s and she knew that the vote that winning those rights on Bieber meant nothing for women unless they were going to be able to combine professions in the world. And home and family and with the blessings of the Smith faculty and the board of trustees at the Institute for I don't think they called it restructure of work at all man but that's what it dealt with work and family was started at Smith and lasted for eight years here. It held had pilot projects it got it used the best of social scientists biological scientists scientists to address their minds
and the knowledge that was what this place was a repository to these problems. Child care the smith nursery school the Smith you know school is an offshoot of that. The childcare pilot project pilot projects in new ways a food preparation communal food preparation that were easier to combine with work world wholly research projects on the restructuring of work to a part time careers. For instance at that point I don't think that she could see in terms of part time or flex time for women and men and women and men sharing the housework as we see today for their on the sex role revolution. But at least they began to address these problems and then do you know what happened. A real wave of reaction. And reactionary economic forces in this country the same kind of groups that are financing the moral majority now in the false name of the family brought
to a halt. The research that was being done on the possibilities of the evolving dynamic family that equality could have brought about in acquiescence to this reaction the swift faculty and the Board of Trustees closed the institute in the name of the family whereas this was what was going to make possible a family that really used you know and could use the education that Smith could provide at the same time. The While Marxism Communism had no more blind spot about women than capitalism. The Russian Revolution and the end of World War One made a kind of general political reaction where it was discovered a brilliant comic discovery that by keeping all those women at home buying appliances and by saddling the worker with a mortgage for a lot of individual houses you could you know keep a lot to keep a kind of a conservative as them that you could keep it at and easy to see
product for goods and. Supposedly it is the red wave the red scare of all the women's organizations were on a list like red Chano you know. Even if organizations as we give women voters American Association of University Women and women's temperance they were all red bedded along with the feminist organizations the Smith Institute was closed by the time I was in Smith in the forties. Nobody had even heard of it. I didn't know existed in July how I happened to read some archives this year. We could all be wiped out. On the other hand we are not in the same place that we were in 1920. There is the possibility for a dynamic large new political alliance in the service of life that you can be part of. I am not calling you to a single issue kind of
feminist politics that seem to be on mode in the first stage that was really not our mode. We were much more than single issue but in the next stage it cannot be a single issue it cannot be single issue. I am calling you to a new passionate voluntourism. The kind of passionate political activism in this service of Life got a bad name as voluntourism. As a part of a feminist reaction to the exploitation of women in volunteer activity and the denigration of women in volunteer activity as they had been denigrated in domestic work in the family not to own kind of a kind of a do good voluntourism where the women. The women that were housewives who could be good could do sometimes even busy work and or or work in the service of life that nobody else would do. But the serious committed voluntourism that in fact Smith graduates have always done and the kind of real communal political
activism that the mainstream political parties have not. Elicited in your generation or mine in recent years because they have not dealt with the needs of the interests of life I am saying that we cannot rely on federal government agencies we cannot rely on Congress or the courts in the foreseeable future to deliver the services we need in life. We are not going to get them by women doing them like throwing bandages again either because women now have the double burden of family and work. But women and men must come to a new passion of political activism humanist political activism of passion of volunteerism. Now we have not seen in recent years for our say our lives for our families and. As the hope. The hope for a new politics in America that can transcend this current moment.
Every action that can transcend it and restore this country to the services of life which are archives are your concern. You have the strength to do this. You must do this. You must ask these new questions even though you neither you nor I can see the answers. I am. I am. Thank you. Betty for speaking at the Smith's college commencement ceremony on May 24th
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- Commencement addresses delivered by Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm at Mt. Holyoke College and feminist writer Betty Friedan at Smith College. Chisholm encourages graduates to fulfill their responsibility to positively change society. Friedan talks about the second stage of the women's movement and the relationship between feminism and the family.
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Producer: Greenberg, Rick
Producing Organization: New England Public Radio
Speaker: Friedan, Betty
Speaker: Chisholm, Shirley, 1924-2005
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Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Five College Forum; Commencement Addresses by Shirley Chisholm and Betty Friedan,” 1981-05-24, New England Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 27, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-305-82x3fpr6.
- MLA: “Five College Forum; Commencement Addresses by Shirley Chisholm and Betty Friedan.” 1981-05-24. New England Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 27, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-305-82x3fpr6>.
- APA: Five College Forum; Commencement Addresses by Shirley Chisholm and Betty Friedan. Boston, MA: New England Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-305-82x3fpr6