Special Section: Women's Issues
In this symposium:
In the 2008 Democratic Party platform, the only provision with women in the title was one promising "Opportunity for Women." The provision pledged "that our daughters should have the same opportunities as our sons,"1 confining measurement of women's equality to our access to men's jobs and men's wages. The nomination, then election, of the first African-American presidential candidate portended and promised great change.
How many people can afford to take time off from work without being paid? Not many. When a worker gets sick or a child or parent gets sick; when a woman is giving birth or when a parent needs to go to a conference with a teacher, leaving work can not only cost a day's pay, but it can cost advancement in a career. Women, who do most of caregiving, are particularly disadvantaged.
By the early 1990s, it had become clear that the kind of feminist activity that had blossomed from the late 1960s through the late 1980s in the United States was no longer present. Consequently, many began to ask: what was the present state of feminism?
IN 1974, WOMEN IMPRISONED at New York's maximum-security prison at Bedford Hills staged what is known as the August Rebellion. Prisoner organizer Carol Crooks had filed a lawsuit challenging the prison's practice of placing women in segregation without a hearing or 24-hour notice of charges. In July, a court had ruled in her favor. In August, guards retaliated by brutally beating Crooks and placing her in segregation without a hearing.
Judi Chamberlin is one of the founders of the mental patients' liberation movement. In 1988, she wrote On Our Own, a book about her own experience with depression 43 years ago, when she was hospitalized against her will. That book became a kind of bible for the mental patients' liberation movement. Now the 64-year-old activist is dying of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, an incurable lung disorder. Late last year she stopped hospitalizations and instead opted for home hospice care.
Janet Afary is hopeful about the future of women's rights in Iran. And she identifies many reasons to be so, from secret individual acts of resistance by women against husbands, fathers, and dictators to collective feminist struggle and today's One Million Signatures Campaign for equal rights. But Sexual Politics in Modern Iran also reveals the full force of the cultural and political systems that the Iranian movement for gender equality confronts.