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May 08, 1976 - Image 7

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1976-05-08

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Saturday, May 8, 1976


Page Seven

Saturday, May 8, 1976 THE MICHIGAN DAILY Page Seven

"I hope this proposal will be adopted in two
years," she remarks with a somewhat con-
fident smile.
A ND GIROUD has reason to be confident
about her plans. For with the support
of the majority party leader and president,
Giscard d'Estaing, behind her, she can be
assured that many of her ideas will become
"My position was only possible because
I had the support of the president. He
created the post because he had the feeling
that this was the moment that you had to
do something. He was sincere." As a result
she does not seem to have become the
governmental figurine that some first feared
she' would.
One key factor in this success is Giroud's
ability to persuade powerful men in the
government to see her own point of view
without frightening them off. "That is a
large part of my actions, to convince people,
to convince men in the government (of my
views), and everytime we had a new law
(up for approval) to ask "what about
policies for women, think about women."
She repeats a seemingly favorite theory
about the three types of men that exist in
the world, "First you have the 'mysogyns,'
and their is nothing you can do with them.
It is as though they have some sort of ill-
ness or disease in the brain. Then you have
another category which is interested in
women. They think there is some sort of
gold mine there, with another sensibility,
another way to look at things. And then
there's the third category that never thinks
about these problems until you confront
him with it. This one you can speak with
and say look at women do you see what
difficulty they have. And you can convince
But why has she been successful, in this
approach? "liar opinions are respected,
because people know she's competent,"
answers Eisendrath. "Before her appoint-
ment, she wrote the best political column
in France (in L'Express).
GIROUD has been criticized for failing to
establish bonds between herself and
other French feminist organizations, for
refusing to define herself as a feminist, and
for taking a too conservative stand on
abortion. Giroud's answer is that is simple,
"Everybody needs radicals, they have cour-
age and in every field radicals are useful,
but I am not a radical."
And despite the ambiguities in her posi-

Photos by
carries an added lilt to it as she touches on
this topic - she herself as a daughter who
is a doctor. "The young people are com-
pletely different, completely. They take
care of the children together. They really
share life."
Although the French child-care system
seems advanced when compared with the
U.S., Giroud still considers child-care a
major problem for the middle and working
classes. French children over the age of
two and one half, are eligible to attend free
government supported day schools. "We
also have day-care centers for children
younger than that," adds Giroud, "but
only 50,000 places are available and we
have 800,000 children below that age with a
mother who works."
As a solution Giroud has proposed a tax
allocation for all men and women with
children under the age of three, working or
not working, which they could spend on
day-care or babysitters if they so chose.

tion, Giroud's approach seems to be right
where it counts - in accomplishing some-
thing for Frenchwomen. All times her ideas
may seem old hat. But they fill needs that
are to some extent, completely foreign to
the U.S. Moreover she has had the rare
chance to incorporate them into broad poli-
tical action. Something American feminists
have not had a shot at.
But perhaps the best proof of her ability
to at least understand, if not always agree
with a broad spectrum of women's com-

plaints seems to lie in the way she has
lived her own life.
Far from serving as some public model of
the perfectly integrated wife and career
woman, Giroud has led an independent and
often uncertain existence, one which smacks
of a certain exoticism. She viewed life or
women not only from the snug safe quarter
of home and family, but from prison, the
pressroom and the political arena.
Elaine Fle/cher is the editor of the
Saturday Magazine.

Memories of the blacklist fifties

T0 CALL Lillian Hellman a fine writer
is almost a superfluous statement.
As Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The
Little Foxes, The Children's Hour, Watch
on the Rhine, as well as other plays (and
Hollywood screenplays), she achieved a
fame in the '40 and 'SOs unequalled by
any other American woman playwright.
Now in the '60s and '70s, she is re-
claiming the public eye - and mind-
with a series of memoirs. The first was
the excellent Pentimento, excerpted in
Esquire magazine, the next An Unfin-
ished Woman, and now Scoundrel Time,
a history of Hellman's involvement in
the McCarthy era seen through the
eyes of a decent, literate woman who
was persecuted and blacklisted for be-
liefs thought "leftist" and friends
thought dangerous.
This is not the story of one of Ameri-
ca's golden moments. The book is rid-
dled with accounts of friends and ac-
quaiitances hailed before the House Un-
Americn Activities Committee, forced
into either invoking the Fifth Amend-
meni, thereby becoming "Fifth Amend-
ment Communists," or naming friends
and relatives as putative subversives,
regardless of the truth of the charges,
in order to save their own careers.
For Hellman, like many of the others,
the era also brought hard times econom-

ically. Unable to sell her work, she and never with the kind of fullness that "premature anti-Fascist." But her pri-
her Rover, the famous mystery writer leaves one satisfied. Not that this is her vate sadness is not for that which can
Dashiell Hammett, were forced to sell fault. The book that would contain never be, it is for that which was and
their home, a well loved farm in Pleas- enough of her thoughts and sensibilities can never be agin.
antvitle, New York. to satisfy would be longer than the Har-
Victims had to have only two criteria 'ard Classics series put together. scoundrel Time is not a definitive his-
to make them ripe for slaughter: they tsr y of the McCarthy period, nor a
had to be celebrities, and they had to . sss::'::, "iK . ssgi; K K: ' K'. very complete one. Hellman was lucky;
be somewhere to the left of Joseph Mc- she defied the Committee and got away
Carthy. Victims 11had( to hie Ortly two with it - she made them feel silly and
ILLMAN doesn't like to brag about criferio 10 mabe thei ripe for t h hlacklisted, she was never pro-
her own troubles so she omits many sec'tled. She watched as friends and
of the esents and feelings she considers the slaughter: they lad to be foes alike sank into the pits as a result
dull, unimportant, or too personal. celebrities, (11 they ead to be of a fan desicrtic "headline-seeking
Yet she is a fascinating figure - not "oiiti i Os. fne feels as though she
only as the lover of Hammett, but also somewhere to the left of Jo- ""roed v's atcheid, yet only, I think,
as the friend of Dorothy Parker, the Al- bMc rthy.s she rs'f'uses to dwell on her
gonquin Round Tabler, and as a labor epl* K'. lit she s'ics up her feelings
sympathizer in often-troubled decades of ......nser*..s:. .... ::: . .. I 5h4 ceviod so neatly in her finil
this country. And her tales of self leave
too many holes. She is too much to say lellman is not particularly prone to "r k' wr-tten here thit I htie re-
so little. seli-ty, yet her sadness does erupt oc- ^{r'- T ume-a it oly in a wiorldly
PUT WHAT she does write about, she esiTonally. She recounts in An Unfinish- -T dr) n tincit blilsi in r"'ov-
does with an unerring eye and a ed Woman, how s;fter twenty-odd years " - Thi ci sith i's ci"'s ris,
poignancy seldom matched in autobiog- she retarns to Russia to visit her war- -r its F,) t,.h.s, its nishments,
raphIy. ter life was shaped by her New time interpreter and friend Raya. Sh- "c i "o c of us forever, snd ;
Orleas upbringing, where no one had is aserceis - among other things. She siM be
aiy m nay, so the risk of losing is r i.eembcrs having been accused in the " t fi'ish writit p bi t this ti-
monet ingrained in her; where a wet- ifWis it being i "'riend of Russia. " ' It' r t .f T i', S tt nyteif
nurse, Saphronia, hcid instilled in her a 1ste ( c the eidence cited against her 'h' tt was ihen, and hive is cow
scsa of anger and a love of all folk i1s tb-it bah hd 'one to Russia duriing at tt y irs bstwven theo ad iiw
who sad less than herself. th urr (ratted, endir the aegis of the andi- he thn nou aim re ine."
All this she has tilked about in Pe+ti- Siti eipyrt'arnt), h-t she had friends
meito and An Unfinished Woman, but who ware Ru sian, and that she was a s/f 'slls is ihe /Daily Ar/i i/itr

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