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Houston Breakthrough 1979-07 - 1979-08
Page 5
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Houston Breakthrough 1979-07 - 1979-08 - Page 5. July 1979 - August 1979. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. April 21, 2014. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1537/show/1514.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(July 1979 - August 1979). Houston Breakthrough 1979-07 - 1979-08 - Page 5. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1537/show/1514

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough 1979-07 - 1979-08 - Page 5, July 1979 - August 1979, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed April 21, 2014, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1537/show/1514.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough 1979-07 - 1979-08
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date July 1979 - August 1979
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Physical Description 28 page periodical
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
Original Item Location http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 5
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name femin_201109_552ae.jpg
Transcript COMMENTARIES by Nikki van hiqluowER Bill Narum On Turning 40 This 40th birthday has been in the back of my mind now for some time—sort of lingering there generating mild feelings of stress, and I have been trying to put my finger on the reasons. Ellen Goodman wrote a column several months ago on turning 40. She expressed many of my sentiments in trying to sort out her feelings at the passage of the 30's. As she pointed out, things are a great deal better than they used to be: "Not long ago a woman turning 40 would never consider buying a dress out of the junior department, even if it was perfect, for fear of trying to look 'young.' Forty meant retreat; concealment. It meant buying bathing suits with little skirts to cover middle-age droop, instead of taking up tennis or racquet ball. It meant opting for a 'safe' marriage or a 'safe' job, instead of taking a chance on finding something happier or better." I agree with you, Ellen. If anything, we seem to have the opposite reaction to turning 40 now. We are buying clothes specifically because they make us look younger, or taking up those sports or those risks that we somehow passed up when we were younger, maybe because we thought that there would always be plenty of time to do it later. It is not chronological age, alone, that reminds us of our tenure here on earth. There are physical changes as well—the lines, or wrinkles, that give a face character or depth of expression. They don't mean the same things they used to, such as switching to the bathing suits with the skirts, but they mean something and that is what I have been trying to figure out. It's not that I really mind the way those lines look on my face, it's what they mean in terms of my individual freedom and mobility that matters. What is it that makes me anxious when I look closely into the mirror? Part of it I know is related to 30 years of conditioning that I have had only about 10 years to counteract. Thinking about 40 in terms of my socialization causes me to rephrase the question. What did youth mean to me as a woman? Youthfulness was related to attractiveness—one-dimensional kind of attractiveness. Youthfulness was a requisite for beauty, physical beauty. This fact takes me back another step. What was the value of beauty or physical attractiveness for my life? It provided one of the most achievable routes to upward mobility—a man. Physical attractiveness was also very important in getting a job, at least the kind of jobs that were open to women. I understand my past reasons for concern with youth, but almost nothing that I want today will be achieved through either youth or beauty. So why the lingering concern over turning 40? Is it merely a hangover from past experience? After doing my best to weed out all the mental pollution from the past, I have to conclude that there is indeed a legitimate reason for a certain amount of stress at turning 40. It is, statistically speaking anyway, the middle point in life. The significance of this is that there will not be another 40 years in front of me. Most of us will never again have as much time in front of us as we have had in the past. For me this means that there is not as much time to waste and I find myself attaching a new seriousness to whatever I do. On the whole, life has become more meaningful- to me now than it was, say, 20 years ago. Ellen Goodman called this feeling the "Last Chance Syndrome." However, I am finding it rather exhilarating, rather than dismal. I know that the advent of feminism has had a great deal to do with my reaction to turning 40. The bathing suits are now irrelevant and the facial lines are now only a reminder that I had better keep moving if I care about what I am doing with my life—and I do. A Medal for Masculinity "President Carter calls John Wayne genuine article," a Houston Post headline read on March 13, 1979. "Genuine article?" If John Wayne is a "genuine article" to President Carter, it's a poor outlook for our country. Our highest elected leader has lost the ability to distinguish between the real and the imaginary. I don't mean to pick on Jimmy Carter over this John Wayne matter, it's just that his ridiculous comments are always so much more visible than those of others. In this particular case, it was probably more a matter of Carter jumping on the bandwagon and following the crowd than leading. As a matter of fact, not even John Wayne's name was for real. It was a stage name. His real name was Marion Michael Morrison. The characters he played on screen were no more genuine: super-he- men Marines, pilots, cowboys, sea captains, prize fighters or cavalrymen. His personal or "real" life, from what we know of it, appeared to be rather chaotic and as much out of his control as his screen lives were under his control. He had three failed marriages. The second one ended in a bitter divorce in which his wife accused him of being a drunk and a philanderer. Although he made millions in his screen career, poor investments kept him from amassing the fortunes of some of his contemporary actors such as Bob Hope. Politically, he seemed unable to adapt to the times. He remained a loyal supporter of Richard Nixon and was never able to grasp the opposition to the Vietnam War. With so little going for him, why was John Wayne presented the Congressional Medal of Honor? Was it because he died of cancer? Millions of people succumb to that disease. Was it because he was a famous movie actor? Many great actors have died unnoticed by our government officials. I have been astounded by the lack of dissent about the presentation to John Wayne of our nation's highest award. The only intelligent comment I have yet to hear in the media came from Henry Fair- lie, a Briton who for many years covered America for the London Observer. Fairlie stated in a commentary for the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service, "John Wayne has contributed nothing to the welfare or progress of the American people beyond what has been demanded of him in the normal pursuit of his career and its pecuniary rewards; he has set no exceptional endeavor or duty that mothers might repeat to their infants to excite them to lives of civic virtue; and the sad fact that he is dying of cancer is of no relevance in determining whether he should be singled out for one of the highest awards of the state. It is impossible to discover any tenable ground for bestowing the honor." It is my theory that the medal was bestowed as an effort to try to consummate a world of make believe, to make it seem as if it were genuine. John Wayne, "The Duke," was the ultimate super-male. He represented the ideal, but unachievable masculinity that has come under severe attack for being a phony article in the last few years. The medal was a way to try to preserve the ideal, to make it seem more real. It was a statement by our government and our president, of their male chauvinistic mentality. It had nothing to do with Marion Michael Morrison. He was, after all, just as ordinary as the people who honored him. It was John Wayne, the super-male movie hero, who was being honored—one more triumph for a masculinity that is no more real than the image on the silver screen. Do Feminists Represent Homemakers? It is fairly typical in appointing women to government posts, particularly those which are primarily advisory or symbolic, to use wives or daughters of famous and/or rich men. Perhaps this is a reward to women who have shown their loyalty to their men by remaining in the background, doing little that would bring them individual recognition. To most politicians, such appointments probably have the benefit of safety, not to mention the extra little bonus of a pat on the head to the influential male, if he is still alive, or his constituency, if he is not. Such would seem to be the case with the appointment of Lynda Bird Robb to the position of chair of the President's Advisory Committee for Women. Carter made no bones about the fact that her appointment was linked to her being the daughter of Lyndon B. Johnson and the wife of the Lt. Governor of Virginia. The other reason given caught me by surprise, although I don't suppose it should have. I can't seem to overcome my naivete about the abysmal ignorance of many public officials on the women's movement. At any rate, once again I was caught off guard when I heard that the other characteristic that got Lynda Bird her appointment was her role as mother and wife. As opposed to what? Does this imply that there are no other wives and mothers on the committee or that there is an over-representation of single women? As I recall, it is the single women who are underrepresented. However, I feel sure that the appointment had little to do with quotas or fair representation. I feel certain it had more to do with a backward image of active women. That is, if a woman does anything more than be a wife and mother, in the minds of some people, including the president, she loses her identity as a wife and a mother, and also, apparently, her ability to represent or relate to those roles. Even Robb seems to think there is a distinction between feminists and women. She foresees no problems in following Abzug as chair, since "we represent different constituencies." I would find the whole issue of these ridiculous distinctions amusing were it not for the bad rap that feminists have taken over their positions on women in the homemaker role. Feminists have always been deeply concerned with upgrading and protecting women in the wife/ mother roles. After all, the vast majority of women fit into one or both of those roles, so turning our backs on them would mean turning our backs on most women. And, although it may come as a surprise to many politicians, most feminists are also wives and/or mothers. The National Organization for Women and other women's rights groups have carried the entire weight of the struggle for economic rights within marriage, economic recognition for the home- maker, and greater opportunities for homemakers in transition. One of the greatest impacts of the federal Equal Rights Amendment would be through changes in family law that would provide greater protection for the homemaker/ mother. So who really represents wives and mothers? Those who have been out struggling in their behalf or those whose horizons stretch no further than their individual families? By the way, President Carter, now that Lynda Bird Robb has assumed the position of chair of the President's Advisory Committee for Women, who is going to represent the wives and mothers of our country? Dr. Nikki Van Hightower is the executive director\of the Houston Area Women's Center. HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH JULY/AUGUST 1979