Monday, August 01, 2005

A 21st Century Feminist Agenda: Mission Possible

This is from a women's studies course that I taught a few years ago. The class was asked to collaborate and come up with a feminist agenda based on the course content. It was an end of the semester project.

A Cooperative Thought Experiment by the Women’s Studies Class of 2001

"Resolved, that the women of this country ought to be enlightened in regard to the laws under which they live, that they may no longer publish their degradation by declaring themselves satisfied with their present position, nor their ignorance, by asserting that they have all the rights they want." -- Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments 1848

"But we'll have our rights, see if we don’t, and you can't stop us from them; see if you can. You may hiss as much as you like, but it is coming." --Sojourner Truth, 1853

Promoting the Expiration of Patriarchy

The goal of equality demands the transformation of the patriarchal standpoint, which results in a competitive contest among would-be world dominators, to an egalitarian standpoint that promotes a cooperative global partnership which adheres to the core values of Equality, Justice and Peace.

In order to promote the social, political and economic equality of women and men and to engender social solidarity among women and men across race, class, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nation state, marital status, maternal status, etcetera, we, the Women’s Studies Class of 2001, hereby propose the following to comprise the Feminist Agenda of The Twenty First Century.

Equal Education Means Writing Women Into the Curriculum

Women’s Studies courses must be required in elementary, middle and high schools, as well as in all institutions of higher education leading to the eventual integration of feminist thought and women’s history in the school curriculum across disciplines and grade levels.

Feminist educational workshops or Women’s Studies courses must be designed and implemented for the education of women and men of all ages, across class and race, in immigrant neighborhoods, as well as in poor and/or underdeveloped areas of the world.

Universal quality education across class and race must be provided by well-paid women and men.

Equality As A Core Value: Equal Representation and Equal Pay

With a sufficient number of women in political office, the entitlement of universal quality childcare will become the law of the land. This will ease the pain of the work/family conflict and enable more women to enter the workforce. With massive numbers of women in the workforce and political office, the glass ceiling, the maternal wall, and the sex-wage gap will be eliminated.

Promote Equal opportunity and Equal representation by acknowledging women in the US Constitution by amending said constitution with the passage of the Equal Rights Act, [authored by National Woman’s Party founder, Alice Paul in 1923].

Toward this end, measures must be instituted to assure:

Equal representation of women in political office.

A Dramatic increase in the number of feminists [female and male] in public office and in all walks of life.

The Passage of laws designed to promote the elimination of the sex-wage gap.

Equal pay and upward mobility for minority women and men.

The transformation of the wage work system into a family friendly system, with all jobs designed for primary caregivers.

Occupational segregation will be recognized as illegal sex discrimination.

The end of the global gag rule and the establishment of global reproductive rights.

A Right To Care: Promoting the General Welfare

Carework, or traditional ‘women’s work’ must be acknowledged as Real Work. As real work, carework will be recognized and rewarded with a generous array of entitlements which acknowledge the vital social and cultural contribution of care.

Public Education campaigns must be established for the promotion of the recognition that ‘women’s work’ or carework is valuable and essential work for the establishment of a successful society.

The US must institute the same generous maternity and family entitlements which Swedish women, children and men enjoy.

In the meantime, it is imperative that the US establish universal Paid Maternity, Paternity and Family Leave policies, as well as universal quality healthcare.

Universal quality childcare must be implemented and provided by college-educated and highly paid women and men.

The US welfare system must be reformed “in order to promote the general welfare” or benefit the women and children it pretends to serve, rather than criminalize them.

US welfare policy must include at a minimum entitlements to a decent standard of living and access to higher education.

Equal Sharing among women and men of carework and all domestic duties will become a core value in an egalitarian society/world.

An End to Misogyny And All Forms of Violence Against Women

Toward the elimination of the epidemic of violence against women:

Eliminate bias against women in the media and greatly increase media coverage of the women’s movement and, thus, positive female role models for girrls, women, boys and men.

Establish public education campaigns on the damaging effects of sexual harassment and violence against women.

Pass and enforce strict laws against all forms of violence against women, including harassment, as well as all forms of sexual violence against both women and men.

Implement strict laws prohibiting sex/gender based harassment and violence against gays and lesbians.

Establish comprehensive programs to rehabilitate abusive or patriarchal men.

Provide support for the development and expansion of grassroots women’s movements across race and class.

Organize The Million Feminist March on Washington and develop a strategy toward the building of a unified mass based global movement for social justice.

Promote and strengthen the spread of the growing Global Feminist Movement.

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat. -- Rebecca West 1913