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October 15, 1982 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1982-10-15

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0

PINION

Page 4

Friday, October 15, 1982

The Michigan Daily

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Women's movement: Surviving, evolving

The nation's conservative trend
hasn't slowed down feminism, says
Gloria Steinem, noted feminist and
co-founder of Ms. magazine. Ac-
cording to Steinem, the women's
movement is more widely accepted
now than ever.,
Steinem, who appeared on cam-
pus last week along with feminist
authors Kate .Millett and Alice
Walker, fears, however, that the
reproductive freedom of women
may be in danger. In an exclusive in-
terview with Daily staff writers Ann
Marie Fazio, Julie Hinds, and Fan-
nie Weinstein, Steinem discussed
current challenges to feminism-in-
cluding the Helms amendment and
Phyllis Schlafly.

ought to focus where it hurts the most.
We should focus where there's the most
injustice in our own lives. But I don't
think we should make each other's
agendas.
Clear themes emerge, though.
Reproductive freedom as a basic
human right seems to be key now
everywhere. Our reproductive capacity
isthe one thing that unites women and
it's our one difference from men.
Establishing a basic right to have or not
have children in safety, eliminating
sexual violence, eliminating the idea
that sexuality is only okay if it's direc-
ted toward heterosexuality and having
children, all that is important. The
second theme is redefining work.
Women suffer from a kind of semantic
slavery. Most of what we do is called
"not work." Women who work at home
are called people who don't work-
that's crazy.
Daily: Do the current efforts by Jesse
Helms to regulate reproductive
freedom by limiting abortion rights
worry you? Do you think they'll be suc-
cessful?
Steinem: I'm very worried about it.
That it could have gotten as far as it did
when 70 percent of the country opposes
it is frightening. It means we really
don't have a democracy. We've got to
go to the polls in November and demon-
strate that we will vote on reproductive
freedom just as we won't vote for a
candidate who doesn't support free
speech.
Daily: The recent Reagan appoin-
tments of women to high office-Sandra
Day O'Connor and Anne Gorsuch, for
example-do you think they've hurt or
helped the women's movement?
Steinem: It depends who they are. To
appoint an anti-woman woman is worse
than having no woman. To have
someone who looks like you and is
fucking up is worse than having
nobody.
I think that Sandra Day O'Connor,
while she was not on the list of women
recommended for theSupreme Court
by women's organizations, nonetheless
is interesting as an example. When

Reagan was really down in the polls
with women even before the election, he
apparently thought he surely could find
one woman to appoint to the court who
was as conservative as he was. Well,
we're happy to say he couldn't. Though
she is not ideal, she is more supportive
than the men on the list of possible ap-
pointees were. I think that's a plus.
Anne Gorsuch, I think, is not a plus.
She seems to be someone who doesn't
want to protect the environment,
something women are very concerned
about.
Daily: What is the next step for an
equal rights amendment?
Steinem: I think it will work, but it
probably will take at least another
decade. It's been, as you know, rein-
troduced in Congress. We now realize
that we have to focus on state
legislature. For years we've been
focusing too much on Washington.
Daily: In the past, attention was
focused on feminist leaders-yourself,
Bella Abzug, Betty Freidan. Now
Phyllis Schlafly seems to be getting
more attention than anyone else. Do
you think new feminist leaders are
emerging?
Steinem: Women are emerging. Take
Ellie Smeal. She's emerged as the
leader of NOW. No one would have
known her as a housewife in Pittsburgh.
Take Barbara Jordan or Yvonne
Braithwaite Burke.. There is a wide
variety of women speaking out today.
Phyllis Schlafly is a creation of the
fairness doctrine. Everytime you have
someone speaking for ERA, the fair-
ness doctrine says you have to have
someone speaking against it. Schlafly
happens to be the only nationally-
known woman who opposes it. She gets
to be famous. People don't knpw that
the network used to call me up and said
"Bring an 'anti' with you." They didn't
know anybody who's against the equal
rights amendment.
I'm very grateful to Phyllis Schlafly.
She's bad on every issue. It would be
embarrassing if she were good on
anything. She's rich, she's hypocritical.
She does just what she tells women not

0

Daily: Do you think feminism is
dying out in the 1980s?
Steinem: I think I've been hearing
that every Wednesday of every week
for the twelve or fourteen years that
I've been active. One of the ways a
culture deals with a challenge to its
justice is to say it's dead. First they
say you don't need it, then they say it's
-too radical, and then they say it's over.
Clearly it's not. If you look at public
opinion polls, there's been a steady in-
crease in support for issues raised by
the movement. Whether it's equal pay
for comparable work or reproductive
freedom, they all have majority sup-
port in the polls now.
Daily: What are some of the key
issues in the 1980s on which women
should focus their attention?
Steinem: Well, I don't want to say to
women, "You should." We've had that
said to us much too much. Individuals

Daily Photo by ELIZABETH SCOTT
Steinem: "I'm very grateful to Phyllis Schlafly. She's bad on every issue ... If you put her in a novel, nobody would
believe her."

to do, take an active role outside the
home. If you put here in a novel, nobody
would believe her.
Daily: Now that Ms. has had its ten-
year anniversary, what do you see as
its role in the future?
Steinem: Women's issues are
general. I think we suffer from the idea
that men are the world and women are
a single issue. I hope that there will be
more feminist publications. Unfortun-
ately, we're the only national one.
Because of the advertising and com-
mercial structure of women's
magazines, they still feel they must do
editorial features on cooking to get
cooking ads, fashion to get fashion ads,
beauty to get beauty ads. It isn't that
the editors want to do this-they don't-

but there still is no other magazine
that's controlled by its staff, controlled
by women.
Daily: What do you think about con-
servatism creeping back onto college
campuses and how it's affecting women
students?
Steinem: I question whether conser-
vatism really is creeping back. The
problem is that activism was defined in
masculine terms in the 1960s-bombing
buildings and having demonstrations
and so on. Transforming the power
relationships on campus may be even
more radical. The fact that women now
have women's studies, and there are
black studies and Hispanic sstudies,
that's a very radical change. The fact
that the median age of the female

graduate is 27 nationwide is a radical
change.
Remember that progress lies in th,
direction we haven't been in. Progress
for women may be to become engineers
and lawyers and carpenters and
mechanics. It doesn't mean we're
imitating men, it means that we're
developing those areas of ourselves.
Progress for men may be taking care of
kids or being active at home.
The minute women say they want a
job, people say they're conservative:
That's not conservative, that's quite
radical for a woman.
Dialogue is a weekly feature of:.
the Opinion Page.

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Wasserman

TODAN/ THAT FEe
VOTE INNVM Z.

13UT THEY MDXNO

Vol. XCIII, No. 32

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

I

It's still a bad idea

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SOME 20 MONTHS ago, the Public
Interest Research Group in
Michigan tried to talk the Regents into
going along with a "refusable/refund-
able" funding program. At that time,
the Regents wisely refused.
Now, PIRGIM-apparently un-
deterred by its previous loss-is trying
again to get the funding plan approved.
It has sought and received the endor-
sement of the Michigan Student
Assembly, and it has plans for a
petition drive later this year to
pressure the Regents into changing
their minds.
But despite PIRGIM's deter-
mination, the "refusable/refundable"
fee system remains as bad an idea
today as it was before.
As the system stands now, PIRGIM
workers stand in registration lines
and collect student verification form
stubs from students as they go by.
Those students who want to give
money to PIRGIM indicate their
wishes on the stub, and they are billed
for the contribution on their tuition
bills.
PIRGIM complains that it isn't get-
ting enough money under that system.
The group says that the CRISP lines
move too quickly for students to make
an educated decision on whether they
want to contribute.
Instead, PIRGIM wants the
"refusable/refundable" system, under
which each student would be
automatically billed for a $2 con-
tribution to PIRGIM.

spend each year collecting SVF stubs.
But PIRGIM's convenience is not the
issue; at issue is whether the burden
should fall on PIRGIM to collect its
funds, or on individual students to
refuse to contribute.
We believe that burden should fall on
PIRGIM. The University should not
compel students to support any special
interest group, no matter how well-
intentioned that group may be. By
giving PIRGIM the right to bill studen-
ts for. contributions, the University
would be turning the PIRGIM con-
tribution into a fee-a fee which could
be declined by students, but a fee
nonetheless.
PIRGIM supporters argue that the
group represents all the students,
through its public interest activities
and that it is therefore entitled to
University help in obtaining funds.
PIRGIM certainly has worked on
behalf of numerous admirable causes.
They've contributed essential support
to legislation which has benefited all
University students and the state of
Michigan as a whole. But PIRGIM has
also taken a number of political stan-
ces as part of its "public interest"
work. While we support PIRGIM's
position on many of these issues, it is
far from certain that most University
students do. It is blatantly unfair to bill
all students $2 to support such political
activities.
PIRGIM says the new system will be
"more effective and efficient" than the
current system, and they're right. It
will be an effective and efficient

0

------_.._..._.1

i

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

Why to vote against GEO s contract'.

To the Daily:
The Sept. 30 GEO membership
meeting resoundingly rejected
the proposed agreement with the
University. This fact caused no
"uneasiness" for the. GEO mem-
bership, which is interested in a
decent contract. It did, however,
cause a great deal of uneasiness
for 1) the University ad-
ministration, and 2) the minority
of contract supporters (many of
whom were themselves
bargaining team members).
The University was uneasy
because they wish to extract the
greatest amount of labor from
the teaching assistants and staff
assistants possible. The
bargaining team was uneasy
because they had the unenviable
job of trying to sell a worthless
contract to the membership.
It is unfortunate that the GEO
contract will be ratified in a mail
vote. Mail votes were designed by
the trade union bureaucracy to
atomize union members and to
stifle useful union debate on the
contract before the membership.
Here are some points concerning
the bargaining process which my
fellow GEO members should take

members, only six were present
during the bargaining process,
and no union meetings were
called while the contract was
being negotiated. The bargaining
team did not actively seek mem-
bership input on the negotiations-
including those negotiations on
issues in which the team had no
direct interest (such as affir-
mative action: the team was all
white).
This process was in blatant
disregard to the bargaining
guidelines which the membership
discussed and voted on last Mar-
ch.
Contrary to the impression
given in Daily articles, the
proposed contract is a three-year
agreement with no guaranteed
wage increases for the second or
third years. Since the University
hasn't yet announced the average
wage increase for the faculty for
this year, we don't even know
what our current raise is. If the
wage increase turns out to be
about 6 percent, it will be offset
immediately by the 15 percent in-
crease in tuition for most TAs.
This does not even account for in-
flation (about 8 percent), so once

the average faculty pay increase
will be significant next year.
GEO would have done better to
tie its wage increases to the rest
of organized campus labor; AF-
SCME received a 7 percent in-
crease last year.
Further, this situation is made
even worse by the failure of the
bargaining team to obtain
guarantees on class sizei.
" Kaboolian argues that rejec-
tion of the contract will lead the
University to take a "hard line"
on negotiations. But it is clear
that the University already has
taken a hard line in the
negotiations.
The bargaining team gave up
all of GEO's priority demands at
the table. The affirmative action
plan was ceded to the University
without even the opportunity for
non-white GSAs to fight for it!
The declining enrollment of black
students (the number of black
GSAs is down by half since 1976)
and the 12-year take-away of the
Black Action Movement
agreement is evidence of the
University's "commitment" to
affirmative action.
9 Kaboolian has played a par-

can call for such a decertification
election.
The University does not wish to
take on GEO in such an open
fashion. It lost the last open con-
frontation in 1976, when GEO
struck for recognition by the
University.
Instead, the University;
strategy since 1976 has been to
handcuff GEO (as it did in the
court case). The University,
would like nothing better than for
GEO to ratify this agreement,
since it would cripple the union
for another three years.
The tentative contract
agreement makes one wonder
who the bargaining team is
working for, although I do not;
place all the blame for this:
situation on the bargaining team.'
The present agreement is the,
result of the ov'erall weakness of;
GEO, although the inexperience,
ineptness, and spinelessness of
some bargaining team members
contributed.
GEO must vote down this con-
tract. New negotiations will-
require a new bargaining team,
under well-outlined membership
control. Negotiations will give

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