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How do we reach equality for women? And is it the summit of our aspirations? Contributors to On The Issues Magazine, Summer-Fall 2010 consider equality, double standards and human rights.

About EQUALITY: How much further away?
From the Editors

How are women faring on “equality”? What remains unequal? And is equality really the summit for progressives and feminists, or only one more mountain to climb?

With the 90th anniversary of women’s right to vote upon us -- and August 26th is designated as Women’s Equality Day – On The Issues Magazine invited writers, artists and poets to consider the elusive search for equality and its flip side, double standards in our lives, for “EQUALITY: How much further away?”

Despite impressive gains, women in the U.S. and around the world are still seeking full equality in political, religious, civic, social, personal, work, financial and artistic realms. But if equality were to arrive or women were to arrive at it, will our goals as feminists and progressives be met? Before her death in 1998, former U.S.Congressional Rep. Bella Abzug said that women should change “the nature of power,” rather than power changing “the nature of women.” But with rare exceptions, the reality is that women still don’t hold the reins of power.

Even the suffragists who labored for women’s voting rights had more in mind. In 1848 Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments, listing a range of injustices encountered by women. Borrowing from the Declaration of Independence, she wrote of the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal,” she wrote. Among her 16 “injuries and usurpations” are some still deeply relevant – relegating women to subordinate positions in church and State, applying a different code of morals to men and women, and attempting to destroy women’s “confidence in her own powers.”

After securing the vote in 1920, activists immediately turned to organizing in other spheres, writing the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (still not passed), and using the courts and legislatures to end discriminatory practices. The work, of course, is not done. In this edition, Carolyn Cook writes about how Hillary Clinton’s presidential run drew her to get involved in a new campaign for the ERA Say "I Do": Constitutional Equality is Forever. Cindy Cooper explores the laws and still-pending concerns on sex discrimination in Gender Equality: Devil in the Details, while Beverly Neufeld writes about a refreshed movement for equal pay in Best City for Working Women: In Our Checkbooks.

In our first video essay, Ann Farmer looks at nontraditional employment, stepping into the garage with a woman mechanic in Equality Under the Hood: Car Repair is Women’s Work.

But there are many areas in the U.S. that the law does not reach at all. Religion is one. Angela Bonavoglia, an author who has researched extensively the Catholic Church and women, explains not only how the Vatican is using an iron fist against woman of faith but why it matters to those outside its purview, in Women Challenge Gender Apartheid in the Catholic Church. Eleanor Bader looks at the ways that women in conservative Jewish communities are quietly removing gender barriers in Snood by Snood, Tight-Knit Orthodox Piety Loosens Up.

Marcy Bloom and Ariel Dougherty remind us of two other areas that are beyond the scope of the government. In Health Inequality: Gates Foundation Bans Abortion, Bloom describes how one decision of a generous donor will sentence some women to ugly deaths. Dougherty writes in Girls Kick: Moving the Media's World Cup Goal Posts that girls’ sports dreams are squelched by pathetically low media coverage.

Loretta Ross, a frequent writer for On The Issues Magazine, applies a multifaceted ("intersectional" to academics) analysis to the goals of the women’s movement from her perspective as an African American feminist. In the struggle against oppression, equality is but one marker along the way to undivided justice for all peoples of the world, she writes in A Feminist Vision: No Justice-No Equity.

Other contributors take a sharp aim at double standards, often with a good dose of humor.

Megan Carpentier dissects the suddenly-popular (if unproven) notion that it’s the male gender that is facing bias in Alright Then, Let Men Compete, while Elizabeth Black writes in bittersweet terms about the ways that women are still criticized for sexual enjoyment in Good Girls, Bad Girls: The Kinkiness of Slut-Shaming.

Marie Shear takes on dozens of linguistic slights and putdowns in "Little Marie": The Daily Toll of Sexist Language. (Her essay brought to mind a comment by the crusading medical writer Barbara Seaman, who declared that she could not understand why researchers on women’s sexuality described “hard” and “soft” data; more appropriate, she said, would be “wet” and “dry” data.)

Other articles apply a long view. Lu Bailey finds hope in the common sense of parents who bristle at Hollywood stereotyping in Defeating Racism and Sexism with the Politics of Authenticity. Mary Lou Greenberg explains her view that the concept of equality does not go nearly far enough in addressing the degradation of a consumerist and capitalist society in Beyond Equality to Liberation.

Our art and poetry sections bring especially unique perspectives. Co-Poetry Editor Judith Arcana selects works from four poets who eloquently portray the lives of women, real and mythological, as they circle the edges of their lives and try to find places to breathe. Maria Padhila, Penelope Scambly Schott, Wendy Vardaman and Sondra Zeidenstein share the rugged dilemmas and not-so-delicate dances that women encounter.

“The Art Perspective,” curated by Art Editor Linda Stein, features a retrospective of a highly acclaimed international artist who frequently addresses inequities in wealth, labor and gender roles in Regina Frank Is Present. In multiple-part audio and video displays, Frank describes how she creates her works, often placing herself as a physical presence inside the art.

The work of other artists is represented throughout the magazine, including Roz Dimon, seen here and here, Robin Gaynes-Bachman, Barbara Lubliner, Kathleen Migliore-Newton, seen here and here, Victoria Pacimeo, Mark Phillips, Inga Poslitar, Marjorie Price and Deborah Ugoretz.

Lastly, we take a look at ten stories on equality from our archives (print, 1983-99; Online, 2008-present), including an investigation by Sally Roesch Wagner into the shared-power experienced by Native American women in pre-colonial societies, Merle Hoffman’s concept of Roe v. Wade as the Medical Equal Rights Amendment for Women, the links between Right-wing anti-gay and anti-women’s rights propaganda, and the vivid description of a "pee-in" to protest the lack of women’s toilets at Harvard. These and other writings are described and linked in From Our Files on Equality.

Equality, and what it means, turns out to be a rich and layered subject, with each question leading to another. We will continue to explore new perspectives on it in the Café of On The Issues Magazine, and we invite your articles, essays and creative thinking, as well as your letters and comments. Write to: On the Issues at contactus@ontheissuesmagazine.com. In addition, we invite you to send us short videos on the topic of nontraditional employment. Send inquiries to On the Issues at contactus@ontheissuesmagazine.com


Also see From Our Files on Equality in this edition of On The Issues Magazine.

See The Art Perspective presents a mini-retrospective of the art of Regina Frank in this edition of On The Issues Magazine.

Visit The Café of On The Issues Magazine for new stories and updates.

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