“5,000 Angry Feminists” – Part Deux

How we got here —

Recommended: VH1’s excellent, accurate, and enticing new Rock Doc series, “Sex: The Revolution” airing late nights this weekend and upcoming. I saw bits and pieces (sic) last and Thursday night. It’s broken into segments, and VH1’s web info focuses on the sexy parts. But, actually, it’s truly a beautifully documented telling of the sexual revolution–“how it used to be” and what we were rebelling against. It gives fun, historical context to how and why each decade rebelled, beginning with the 1950s baby boomers. It shows the effects and counter effects of the Viet Nam War, Reagan’s politics, free love, birth control/The Pill, reproductive rights, psychedelics, recreational drugs, spirituality, pornography, women’s lib, encounter groups, communes, more, and yes lots of sex in multiple flavors. It shows how a new generation was completely rethinking their value system about sex, which was free and sometimes spiritual.

However, in progressive meetings about stopping the war, women found that they were still making the copies, getting the coffee, and handy for sex. In one segment Gloria Steinem reminisced about the “The Sexual Revolution” in Ms. Magazine’s first issue: All it did was make more women available to men–they still felt unequal.

In one segment, a man recounts how women in the early 1970s began organizing, first about women’s right to choose. Then after opening a Times Square office in New York City, feminists began taking on the porn industry that had taken over the area. They began marching through the streets of Times Square, “waving banners and fists.” They spoke out against the porn industry’s objectification of women and being portrayed as bound, raped, murdered, and beaten, which was supposed to be sexy. (I’m not talking about consensual kinky play here, people, okay.) Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug were leading the charge.

In the documentary, the interviewee recounted amazedly that “5,000 angry feminists” burst out into the streets and were marching. Somehow that phrase stuck with me. The series is a great history lesson and reminder of how and why we got here, where we’ve come from, and how much we have yet to go, so don’t miss it.

Sometimes these days I feel like 5,000 angry feminists . . . times a thousand. Actually, 5,000 angry feminists times 1,000 equals 5 million, which is less than one third the number of people who have voted for Hillary Clinton in the primaries so far. Having felt ripped off this week by NARAL’s endorsement of Obama, then feeling a bit better with the subsequent affiliates’ support of her, and condemnation by Emily’s List of NARAL, I was pleased to read that the NWPC–the women who marched for our sexual and reproductive freedom in the sixties and seventies–are standing for Hillary now, because of her solid track record about those causes:

May 16, 2008–

Statement by Lulu Flores, President of National Women’s Political Caucus

The National Women’s Political Caucus is disappointed to learn of NARAL Pro-Choice America’s endorsement of Senator Obama. The Caucus knows Hillary Clinton to be a clear leader and a consistent champion of the issues that NARAL and NWPC have in common. We believe that this announcement will divide the choice community at a time when we need to stand united.

As a lawyer, advocate, First Lady, and Senator, Hillary Clinton has stepped up and stood out on matters important to women. When it comes to each woman’s ability to make the most personal of life decisions, Hillary has been a consistent and reliable advocate for a woman’s right to choose. In fact, she has received numerous awards from both NARAL and Planned Parenthood.

  • Senator Clinton condemned the Supreme Court’s April 2007 decision to allow the government to dictate to women what they can and cannot do about their own health.
  • She has championed the Prevention First Act, which expands access to family planning services for low income women.
  • She is an original co-sponsor of the Freedom of Choice Act, federal legislation that would guarantee the right to choose for future generations of women.
  • In partnership with Senator Murray, Senator Clinton waged a successful battle to get the Food and Drug Administration to make Plan B (the “morning after” pill) available over the counter. This was one of the biggest accomplishments of the pro-choice advocacy community in years.
  • Senator Clinton made it very clear when she stood on the Senate floor to voice her opposition to Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito that one of her major concerns was to keep intact Roe v. Wade. While Senator Obama was also opposed to the nomination of Roberts and Alito, he never mentioned the preservation of Roe v. Wade.

NWPC members in 30 chapters throughout the country join me to say that we are disappointed to learn of NARAL’s endorsement of Senator Obama, and that we stand firm in our support and commitment to the candidacy of Senator Hillary Clinton for President.

That’s strong, and I applaud them. From their website, here’s the history of the NWPC:

The National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC) was founded in 1971 for the express purpose of promoting women’s participation in both elected and appointed government offices on the national, state, and local levels; supplying political expertise to female office-seekers; and supporting women already holding political office.

Among NWPC’s founders were Eleanor Smeal, Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug, Shirley Chisholm, and Betty Friedan. The group held its first convention in 1973 and elected Frances Farenthold, onetime Texas state legislator, as its first President that same year.

The organization founded by the very same women who championed our sexual and feminist freedom are standing with Hillary Clinton now. Let’s remember and honor them, how we got here, and Hillary’s strong stand in furthering women, children and babies’ health, economic equality, and reproductive rights in our nation and the world.