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February 15, 2006 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-02-15

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 15, 2006

OPINION

c e Ib rgt Bi fgu ilg

DoNN M. FRESARD
Editor in Chief

EMILY BEAM
CHRISTOPHER ZBROZEK
Editorial Page Editors

ASHLEY DINGES
Managing Editor

EDITED AND MANAGED BY STUDENTS AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SINCE 1890

420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
44'Take that
hammer and
knock it on
your own
head."
- Saddam Hussein, in response to an
attempt by the chief judge in his trial
to restore order in the courtroom, as
reported yesterday by CNN.com.

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JEFF CRAVENS TiifE C.RAV:.

01

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All
other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their author.

Betty Friedan's dead but feminism isn't
EMILY BEAM Ltx oCKIN FI AMERICA

ometimes I sus-
pect I was born a
few decades too
late. My initial reaction
to Betty Friedan's death
two weeks ago was just
further evidence. Despite
being two generations
removed, reading her
obituary left struck me
with nostalgia for an era
that I completely missed. It's not the 1950s glo-
rification of the middle-class suburban housewife
that prompted Friedan's "The Feminine Mys-
tique" that I'm longing for - I'm grateful to pass
on that one.
Rather, I would have liked to be around for the
years that followed its publication, when women
across the country came out to fight for gender
equality instead of trying to convince themselves
that everything is just fine. It seems I'm too late.
Prominent feminists are fading away, and images
of angry, sign-waving feminists from the 1970s
have been relegated to textbooks. The struggle
may have more or less stopped, and "feminist"
has been reduced to a derogatory name for women
suspected of not knowing their new, improved
place in the world - but things are not equal.
Two generations later, much of what outraged
Friedan has improved. Unlike in the 1950s, women
face little expectation that we enter college in pur-
suit only of an MRS degree, more concerned with
completing our four years with an engagement
ring on one hand than a degree in the other.
But for all these years of struggle, women never
really got much further than gaining the right to
wear pants in fancy restaurants and more choices
for middle-class women in the job market. With
the failure to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment
still a fresh memory, the movement was qui-

etly declared done, and those who persisted were
labeled radical or man-hating.
Of course, there were those who were radi-
cal and hated men. Valarie Solanas's "SCUM
Manifesto" (that's the Society for Cutting Up
Men) is a perfect example. She wrote: "There
remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-
seeking females only to overthrow the govern-
ment, eliminate the money system, institute
complete automation and destroy the male sex"
Even if Solanas hadn't gone from being a mili-
tant feminist to a homicidal nutcase - she shot
Andy Warhol the same year her book was pub-
lished - her beliefs wouldn't have done much
to help the women's rights movement.
If calling oneself a feminist means identifying
with Solanas, no wonder the word has become so
unpopular. A CBS News poll last year found that
just 24 percent of women considered themselves
feminists. Once the pollster defined a feminist as
"someone who believes in the social, political and
economic equality of the sexes," that number rose
to 65 percent.
Does that mean that a third of women don't
support social, political or economic equality? Or
does it suggest that the negative connotation of
feminism has overwhelmed any further discus-
sion? Either way, it's not a good sign.
Even more disturbing is the notion that it
may take a good deal of convincing to win
over these women who aren't so sure about
feminism's worth. The same poll found more
than a quarter of women said the movement
made their lives worse.
It would seem that striving for gender equality
would be a positive thing. Indeed, feminism's gains
- not just of the 1960s and '70s, but through-
out the past century - gave women all sorts of
choices previously denied them. These crazy, radi-
cal changes let young women define themselves

in new ways, not just as future mothers or wives.
Women could have their own interests, occupa-
tions and identities. They gained more choices
over what to wear, where to work and when to
have children.
Not all choice is easy choice, and perhaps here
is where some women become disillusioned.
The genders are certainly more equal than a few
decades ago, but it is still women, not men, who
overwhelmingly must juggle home time and work
time. A U.S. Department of Labor report revealed
women spend an average of one more hour a day
on housework than men. Not too surprisingly,
another 2003 study from the University of Mary-
land found men average almost a half-hour per
night more free time than women.
Even if there's some inner peace to be had from
scrubbing toilets and making dinner every night,
this difference suggests that equality is still a goal
(I hope), not a reality.
What started out as Friedan's cry to free women
from vacuum cleaners did make a lot of gains,
but fizzled out prematurely. Too many problems
- violence against women, wage gaps, sexism
and homophobia - exist to pretend an unfinished
movement was good enough.
When the lasting image of feminism is make-
up-less women throwing out their razors (the
horror!), and the whole idea is unfairly lumped
together with everything from hating God to mur-
dering men, you've got a movement that can't even
unite people under the idea of equality. To carry
out the work that started decades before Friedan
and others, we need an inclusive movement that
spans generations and fights for the equality that
is relevant to both men and women. And yes, we
might still call it "feminism."

0

Beam can be reached
at ebeam@umich.edu.

VIEWPOINT
Health as a human right

By LUKE POLCYN, EUNICE YU,
AND ERIC BARSTAD
There is a human right to health. In a world
where 11 million children die each year before
the age of five, there has to be. We can no longer
afford to conceive of health merely as a market-
able commodity. But the concept of treating health
and economic disparities as a human rights issue
far predates the outrage wielded these days by sun-
glassed spokespeople. Its origin stems from some
of the founding documents of the World Health
Organization and the United Nations. In particular,
Article 25 of the United Nations's 1948 Universal
Declaration of Human Rights states: "Everyone
has the right to a standard of living adequate for
the health and well-being of himself and his fam-
ily, including food, clothing, housing and medical
care and necessary social services."
The right to health doesn't necessarily mean a
right to universal health care. Instead, it empha-
sizes standards of quality and equal access with
regard to the fundamental determinants of health
such as safe water and food, basic treatments,
essential medicines and adequate housing. The
criterion for success becomes the health of patients
rather than the profitability of services. Health as
a human right means returning to the underlying
purpose of a health-care system, which is to ensure
everyone a basic level of well-being. It treats pub-
lic participation in health-related decision making
at the community, national and international level
as the genuine expression of demand. Granted,
economic laws have given Americans the high-
est quality of treatment in the world, but they also

guarantee that such treatment isn't accessible to all
Americans. Above all, the right to health means
understanding the status quo both at home and
abroad in the terms of social breakdown in addi-
tion to market reality. It asks us to assume respon-
sibility for inequality of access.
Despite widespread consensus on the right
to health in international human rights norms,
the American dialogue hasn't yet afforded it the
same kind of primacy seen by civil and politi-
cal human rights. This is within our power to
change. As students, we can work to utilize the
resources and social capital of our universities to
respect and cultivate the observation of all human
rights, including the right to health. We can call
upon public universities to serve more robustly
as public institutions. We can urge the University
to serve as a positive nonstate actor in the very
international system it seeks to engage, and we
can insist it do so while speaking the language of
human rights.
Some of us have been doing so, with admit-
tedly mixed results.
But the primary and most serious responsibil-
ity of the University is to educate, and programs
for human rights education are well underway.
The International Perspectives on Human Rights
initiative has coordinated and sponsored courses
for the last two years. The recently approved inter-
national studies minor allows students to choose
human rights as one of its thematic emphases.
It's OK to want more. Limiting dialogue on
human rights to extracurricular groups at this
University has forged an essentially isolated
political subculture that is powerless to bring

human rights fully into the social and political
mainstream. All the while, the kind of social
progress that advocates truly crave can only be
reached through consensus, and so we must also
crave classrooms with diversity of opinion, facili-
tated by faculty in pursuit of productive and solu-
tion-oriented debate that can give students the
tools and knowledge they need for the future.
An academic approach to human rights is the
first and most crucial step in enabling the Uni-
versity to participate in the international system
on behalf of the dispossessed. The potential of
our University to promote a complete definition
of human rights cannot be underestimated. Our
research meaningfully influences the national
and international academic and political dia-
logue. In particular, scholarly discourse on health
as a human right can facilitate a new understand-
ing of health in America, both in terms of its own
health care system and the way it engages a world
of extreme poverty and pandemics.
To ensure the success of this project, we students
have to start approaching human rights as what we
are: students. Only then can we be the partner the
University needs to guide our education.
Polcyn, Yu and Barstad are LSA juniors
and members of Human Rights Through
Education, a student group that is hosting
a free and open conference Feb. 17-18 at
the Michigan League on the human right to
health. For more information about "The
Right to Health: Prospects and Approaches"
and HR TE, visit www.umich.edu/-hrte or e-
mail hrtecore@umich.edu.

0

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Campus ROTC war
games simple-minded
TO THE DAILY:
This is in response to the Daily's moment of
participation and observation in the recent war
games at the University by the Reserve Officer
Training Corps (War Games, 02/10/2006) in
which soldiers-in-training simulate experiences of
discerning ostensibly good "Arabs" from bad ones
in simulated Iraqi village settings.

the general uproar it would raise. My hope is that
the Daily would take the time to provide some kind
of critical commentary or context.
But it shouldn't take imagining a simulation in
reverse to show how the Daily's coverage of the
war games itself promotes the fatal stereotype
between good and bad Arab that Bush and com-
pany push. Or is it the case, perhaps, that the Daily
does accept that view of the world, and finds no
issue with either its implications or the Daily's
uncritical pitching of them?
I suppose, if this were indeed the case, then it

Society does not fully accept
interracial relationships
To THE DAILY:
Regarding David Betts's column, The dia-
logue of dating (02/14/2006), a dialogue over
the issue of interracial dating is an extreme-
ly worthy one, particularly because of the
issues the author raises regarding its recep-
tion. As the daughter of a white woman and
a black man, I have seen first-hand that to

.. ,. .. .. q . J ,.,

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