IDialogue Conference elitist This appraisal of the Conference on Women in Public Life was to have appeared with Gail Burris’ article in the -Nov. 28 Observer. However, it had to be postponed because of lack of space and is here printed as a letter to the editor. Ed. In the mid-Sixties thousands of women switched from polyester and pantyhose to blue jeans because denim was cheaper, more practical, and more comfortable. Early in the women’s movement, durable, economic clothing became a symbol for a shift in valuesno longer did women see themselves as decorative ornaments. Now, a decade later, denim has been co-opted into fashion, and has skyrocketed in price. That co-optation is symbolic of what has been happening to the women’s movement itself. The Conference on Women in Public Life, which was held in Austin Nov. 9 through 11, is one example of how money has been poured into the women’s movement to divert energy from the real issues, issues that could bring about significant change in this society. Aimed to attract an elite group of women, the conference took place on week days, making it impossible for most working women to attend. Although 87 percent of full-time women workers in America live off less than $6,500 a year, a questionnaire passed out at the conference had $10,000 and under as the lowest income bracket. A group of local women dramatized their opposition to the conference by interrupting introductions to Gloria Steinem and Lorene Rogers with singing, by organizing an alternative workshop, and by distributing educational materials. These tactics were questioned by some conference participants who asked why the dissident women had not requested time on the official program. The protesters answered by explaining that the emphasis of the conference itself was on gaining power within the system. By its very nature the conference excluded women who see the present social structure as a perpetuation of the problems women are fighting to solve. 24 The Texas Observer The protesting women felt it necessary to challenge the concept of the conference, Which encouraged women to take on roles that men have carved out in this society. They asked women to examine the definition of power which is so closely linked to profit and to choose between a false feminism that benefits a few and one that benefits all. Alice Guynn, P.O. Box D, Austin, Tex., 78712. Fine fellow I am distressed that you gave no credit one of the best teachers of journalism I ever encountered: the Texan composing room foreman who taught me the secret of writing to space. How? I would moan in the composing room as the last graf of my astonishingly incisive review of, say, Carry On, Nurse sat atop the University Co-Op ad \(as it had for How could this . . . work be possibly subjected to the ravages of condensation? The composing room foreman, who had quite enough of me, said: “Like this.” He picked up the last graf, quite casually, and threw it into the helibox. Suddently, the penultimate graf concluded with the firm, satisfying proper finality of a “. . . shall not perish from this earth.” And some “scholarly studies of dubious merit” \(for example, “Film Criticism in the perspective of all. Jeff Millar, 1642 Colquitt, Houston, Tex. 77006. Same old problems I write not to “post mortem” the recent constitutional debacle but to note an unfortunate tendency of people to criticize provisions of the proposed constitution without, apparently, realizing that the same provision is in the present constitution. For example, I use Ronnie Dugger’s analysis in the issue for Oct. 31, 1975. Item: “. .. the new document specifically authorizes the Legislature to abolish [the Railroad Commission] .” The present constitution is somewhat ambiguous but probably is to be read to permit abolition of the commission. Item: Ronnie was concerned about removing judges by addresstwo-thirds vote of the Legislatureespecially for “opposition in office.” The present constitution permits this for judges of the supreme court, courts of appeals, and district courts; the proposed constitution limited removal by address to justices of the supreme court. Item: Ronnie said the proposed constitution “would drop the population total at which people can incorporate from 5,000 to 1,500. . .” People can incorporate under the present constitution; the proposed decrease in population referred only to an incorporated city that could opt for home rule. Item: Ronnie objected that “[t] he present provision making more than 10 percent usurious is set aside with the words, `except as otherwise provided by law.’ But the present constitution provides that “in the absence of legislation fixing maximum rates of interest all contracts for a greater rate of interest than ten per centum ous.” There is no substantive difference between these two provisions. Since I had a lot to do with the technical drafting of the proposed constitution, perhaps I can be forgiven for suggesting that maybe some of the points made were the result of reading the new document and learning for the first time what is hidden away in the unreadable present document. George D. Braden, 113 Union Street, Schenectady, New York 12305. Vermont’s third party Having “come down” to Texas in May from Vermont, where I worked, studied, and “lived the good life” for the past three years, I’d like to state that I’m solidly in agreement with the differences between Texas and Vermont raised by James White. An exception I take with his article is the glaring absence of any mention of Vermont’s third party, Liberty Union. Third parties, being the rare and exotic creatures they are these days, deserve careful attention. The Liberty Union Party, as noted by Jonathan Maslow in the Oct. 18, 1975, issue of The Nation, is a liberal marriage between university students and faculty, blacks, and the working class. By offering a progressive alternative to both the Republican and Democratic Party platforms it has moved in its short five-year history to “major-party” status under Vermont’s election laws. One cause the party is working for currently is the state take-over of electric utility companies and their decentralization into public cooperatives. In 1972 L.U. organized demonstrations in support of a construction trades strike, spearheaded by Laborers Local 522, against a state-wide construction firm which refused to hire union laborers, and employed out of state strikebreakers and scabs. Having watched state affairs for the past six months I feel that the difference in political atmosphere between Texas and Vermont is proportional to their distance apart. Jim Reibel, P.O. Box 2399, College Station, Tex. 77840. Postmaster: If undeliverable, send Form 3579 to The Texas Observer, 600 West 7, Austin, TX 78701.
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