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Women in the news

  • Several individual women are in the news in recent days.

On 8/15/05 Cindy Sheehan, camped out near President Bush’s ranch in Texas, was the lead guest on MSNBC’s “Hard Ball” with Chris Matthews. The Gold Star Mother held her own with Matthews relatively well. From her campout Sheehan focused on reiterating her request to meet with President Bush in person. Matthews also talked to an Iraqi woman who had come to Texas to ask Mrs. Sheehan to stop her protest. The woman wanted to let Mrs. Sheehan know that she was convinced that US soldiers “didn’t die in vain; they are helping Iraq fight bad people.” Another woman in a battered cowboy hat appeared on camera, saying that “Iraq needs us to stay over there; my son who’s just come home from there swears it.” This women discussed her belief that the “insurgents” are all “foreign fighters,” a misnomer that Matthews pointed out. Matthews pursued the line of questioning about who the real enemy is in Iraq, but the two women could not be more specific. Others:

  • Common Dreams ‘ David Rossi did a provocative story, “Sometimes, one woman is all it takes,” about Sheehan camping out at Crawford (which was reportedly renamed “Prairie Chapel”).
  • Also in the news is the Israeli government’s decision to force settlers to leave their homes in the Gaza strip. A woman was interviewed about her decision to be forcibly removed from her home, vowing to chain herself to her doorway. She had come to Israel in the late 1960’s from New York City.
  • This week Laura Bush named the first female/first minority to be the official White House chef. Cristeta Comerford, already on the White House food services staff, is a naturalized citizen from the Philippines.
  • And last, a little kudo. I am a liberal Democrat and don’t often give credit to the other side. But I need to do that more often. So here goes: Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice also held her own rather well yesterday, as she briefed the nation on the status of the Iraq constitutional deadline. Rice fielded questions with aplomb, made her points effectively, and came across as authoritative and in charge. At the same time she made it clear that the Iraqis are in charge of this phase of their own emerging nation’s fate, a good stance to take in this case.

The status of women in specific locales has also been in the news:

  • Common Dreams published a story on Australia’s adoption of a very liberal extended parental leave, calling for a maximum of two years unpaid parental leave, translate: “women,” for the most part. We are a far cry from that in the USA.
  • Amnesty International calls for stopping violence against women, in one of their campaign sites.
  • Here is a 11/19/04 story reported by the Feminist Majority on the current status of women in the United States.

Following women’s news is something I do,
and have done since the late 1960’s. I have called myself a feminist ever since. And I belonged to organizations that had an effect on my thinking along the way. My first “college education” in community work, though I earned no credits, was as a member of the League of Women Voters. I am a current member of the National Association of Social Workers. And I spent 12 years as a psychotherapist (clinical social worker) at a local women’s center.
There is power for women when they join together.
They sometimes make the news. Sometimes that makes a difference in the direction of the next news cycle, the next good things that happen. In the blogosphere Rosie O’Donnel’s blog August 14 post, “Mother Sheehan,” attracted over 500 comments when she wrote about Cindy Sheehan’s Texas campout. So we are back to the front end of my post. Maybe Cindy will be the start of something big.

NYT writerMaureen Dowd’s most recent column discusses President Bush and women, characterizing him as “a reformer without results.” Pointing out how prominent women have been in the current administration, she reminds us that outcomes matter most.

To be continued in my next post on women in the Middle East . . .

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