Tuesday, February 26, 2013

PBS special on the women's movement

PBS is broadcasting a three-hour special on the women’s movement tonight. It’s called “Makers: Women Who Make America.” Among the women interviewed are Hillary Clinton & Oprah Winfrey--two women with absolutely no relationship to the movement & inexplicably considered trailblazers for women’s rights. But they also interview a woman coal miner & others like Kathrine Switzer who entered the Boston marathon which at that time excluded women & who was attacked while running by the race organizer, Jock Semple.

Betsey West, the executive producer of the documentary, repeated the misconception that the movement was all white middle-class women who did not address the concerns of Black, Latina, or Native American women. That accusation comes primarily from malicious media misrepresentation, Third Wave feminist writers who appear to derive their history of the movement from media, & writers like Angela Davis who abstained from participation because the Communist Party (of which she was a national leader) considered feminism (as well as homosexuality) “bourgeois degeneracy.” To explain her abstention, she accused the movement of racism & neglected to mention the huge conferences of Black & Latina feminists.

In fact, every one of the demands of the August 26, 1970 march--that threw down the gauntlet of women’s rights & heralded the birth of the movement--affected the lives of all women & not just those of the white middle-class. The demands were for equal employment, abortion & reproductive rights, & childcare. The demand emblazoned on every poster of “No forced sterilizations,” directly impacted Black, Latina, & Native American women who were subjected to ethnic cleansing by the use of sterilizations without consent.

West said she was shocked to see how dismissive the media was toward feminism but she didn’t note how dishonest media reporting remains. It went from contemptuous & lesbian-baiting to misrepresenting the movement as elite white professionals trying to break the “glass ceiling.” The purpose of this is to deter working women as well as Black, Latina, & Native American women from identification with feminism. But the weight of women’s oppression is much greater than the sheer tonnage of media lies. Feminism is the ideology of women’s rights & those who oppose it or try to talk their way around it only make themselves irrelevant or ridiculous.

(Photographer not identified)

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