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'Here's to the Ladies'

February 16, 1986

Every year, for 20 years, someone has written an obituary for the women's movement. Such was the case in James J. Kilpatrick's column (Editorial Pages, Feb. 3), "Here's to the Ladies."

Contrary to the views of Kilpatrick, who proudly refers to himself as one of the leading male-chauvinist pigs in our capital city, the women's movement continues to enjoy wide support among Americans.

A 1984 Lou Harris Survey reported that 70% of women believed that the movement for economic, social and legal equality for women had just begun or was at its strongest point. Younger women were even more likely to hold this view that the movement had just begun; reflective of their optimism for their own futures.

A young woman today has a lot more to look forward to than her mother before her. She can pursue a job or career of her own choosing, including aspiring to be President of the United States. She has a well-defined self-image that includes thinking highly enough of herself to ask for equal treatment and to determine her own sexuality. To more accurately quote Germaine Greer, "The right to say yes is not a freedom in the absence of the right to say no."

Proclaiming the death of the women's movement is a futile attempt at self-fulfilling prophecy. If the women's movement were no longer a powerful force, Catholic University in Washington would not have felt compelled to cancel a speaking engagement by Eleanor Smeal, president of the National Organization for Women (NOW). Does the Catholic hierarchy fear its position on abortion and birth control is out of step with American youth? Do they recognize Smeal's views are shared by young people and that if allowed to speak students would cheer her as they did when she spoke at Notre Dame?

Two national marches in defense of safe, legal abortion and birth control are planned this spring; in Washington (March 9) and in Los Angeles (March 16). College students from across the country will be a significant part of those two days when the people behind the statistics come out to be counted.

So, here's to the women and men who work to realize the dream of equality. They don't need or want Kilpatrick's blessing.


Los Angeles

Spillar is president of Los Angeles NOW, Inc.

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