The Michigan Daily Thursday, October 20, 1988 Page 5
BY MICHAEL LUSTIG
Eleanor Smeal; the three-time
past president of the National Or-
ganization for Women, visited the
University Oct. 5 as part of the
Michigan Student Assembly's Wo-
men's Issues Month. MSA spent
lots of money for Smeal to come,
yet no one heard what she had to
say. What she did say should be
Unfortunately, no one really had
the opportunity to hear what Smeal
said because MSA did no advance
publicity. No posters went up on
campus touting her visit, no ads
were taken out in The Daily, nor
was anything even submitted for
The Daily's List, which is free.
The Daily reported that about 30
people attended Smeal's talk. We
were being generous. I counted 20,
including myself, the reporter and
photographer from The Daily who
were covering the story, and MSA
president and vice president. That
left 15 other people.
MSA spent lots of money to
bring Smeal here. They flew her in
from Washington DC, hired a white
stretch limosine to drive her around
all day, put her and her press secre-
tary up in the Berkshire Hilton,
where rooms run $85-105 a night,
and paid her $4,000 for a speaker's
Since no one really heard
S meal's message, I'll take it upon
myself to tell you why she was
here and what she stands for.
Women and national
Smeal began her own group,
called the Fund for the Feminist
Majority, after leaving NOW in
1987. In late 1987 and early 1988,
she embarked on a nationwide tour
called the "Feminization of Power"
tour, where she encouraged women
to consider politics as a career.
The slogan of the tour was "5
percent," which is the percentage of
the number of members of the U.S.
Congress who are women. That's
correct, 5 percent -23 representa-
tives (out of 435) and two senators.
The symbol is a little magenta-col-
ored pin with a white "5%" on it. I
wear one on my backpack. If
you've noticed it, you now know
what it means.
Compared with other Western
democracies, the U. S. fares badly.
In Norway, the prime minister, al-
most half of the cabinet, and 34
percent of the members of its par-
liament are women. Women gained
their position in Norway through a
law that requires 40 percent of the
candidates running for office be
women. Such gender requirements
also exist in West Germany (30
percent), Spain (25 percent), and
Italy (20 percent).
The closest the U. S. comes to
this is the Democratic Party's rule
that one-half the participants in
party conventions are women.
That's why half the delegates at the
Democratic Convention in Atlanta
were women. The Republican Party
does not have this rule, and only 22
percent of the delegates at their
convention this summer were
This does not mean that Demo-
crats are better for women than Re-
publicans. Of those 25 women leg-
islators in Congress, 13 are Demo-
crats and 12 are Republicans. In
state senates, 11 percent of each
party's representatives are women,
and in state houses, more women
are Republicans than Democrats.
"A handful of women carry the
legislation for half of the popula-
tion," Smeal said. "If you have an
atmosphere in which a certain
group of people is excluded, those
people cannot be represented."
Ten states have never elected a
woman to Congress. Fifteen other
states have only elected one wo-
man. Michigan has elected two wo-
men to Congress - Lena Thomp-
son was elected in 1950 and served
two terms, and Martha Griffiths,
the current lieutenant governor, was
elected in 1954 and served
Only 16 women have serv
Senate; 10 of them less t
But back to Eleanor
She's concerned about Mi
Proposal A, the proposalv
passed, would ban Medicai
abortions. She urged peopl
no, but worried that be
confusing wording, peopl
not clearly understand wha
voting for. A "yes" vot
prohibit the state from pa
approximately 18,500 annu
Smeal estimated that a
million women have had a
since 1973. She based the
on a reported 1.5 million a
a year, and estimates that
the same number go unrepo
A January 1988 poll co
for the National Abortion
Action League by Hickman
Research and American V
found that 64 percent of D
and 58 percent of Republi
pose a constitutional ame
banning abortion. In 1984,
million people re-elected
Reagan, so if the 50 milli
men who have had aborti
20 years. voted for pro-choice candi
ed in the Smeal said, abortion wou
than one longer be a debated issue.
Women and camp
Smeal. Smeal decided to exten
chigan's Feminization of Power tourI
which, if lege campuses when she four
d-funded even though over half of all)
e to vote ican college students are w
cause of only 18 percent of student
le might presidents are. The Universi
t they're her first stop on the campus b
e would Counting portraits on the
ying for of MSA's assembly chamber
ial Med- and its predecessor, the C
Student Government, have h
about 50 presidents since 1955. Four
abortions been women.
number On this note, Smeal lau
abortions into her reasons for the cc
at least campaign. She was inspired
irted. rape at the University of Cali
)nducted Los Angeles in 1986. Womer
n Rights outraged when security officia
n-Maslin women would be safest if
iewpoint stayed inside at night. The %
emocrats marched in the streets callii
cans op- better lighting and emergenc!
only 54 But Smeal said, when it ca
idates, taking active student leadership,
ld no UCLA women were afraid. They
refused to run for the student gov-
us ernment presidency. They criticized
their own qualifications, saying it
id her would divide the vote of women and
to col- that it was too expensive.
nd that These are the same excuses that
Amer- women who consider running for
'omen, national office say.
t body The goal of the campus tour was
ty was to dispell these myths about
our. women running for office. No one
walls ever accuses men of "splitting the
,MSA vote" if there are several men run-
ollege ning for one seat. Fundraising has
had 38 become a tremendous problem for
r have any person planning to run for of-
fice, and groups have formed spe-
inched cifically to raise money for women
after a It's too bad that so few people
fomia- heard what Eleanor Smeal had to
n were say. My eyes were opened when I
ds said took a job with her last summer,
f they and I've tried to show others what I
iomen gained from working with her. The
ng for University was given an opportu-
y tele- nity to learn what I did, but it was
missed. I hope these words have
am to helped.
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APPLY NOW FOR YOUR VERY OWN...
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No need to line up early, we will take all applica-
tions from that one day (10/21/88) and hold a
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the same whether you come in at 8 a.m. or 4 p.m.
These applications are for family housing placement
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Apply in person at:
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1011 Student Activities Building
on October 21, 1988.
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