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Houston Breakthrough 1979-09
Page 5
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Houston Breakthrough 1979-09 - Page 5. September 1979. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. October 26, 2014. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/536/show/513.

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.

(September 1979). Houston Breakthrough 1979-09 - 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/536/show/513

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 1979-09 - Page 5, September 1979, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed October 26, 2014, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/536/show/513.

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 1979-09
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date September 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_553ae.jpg
Transcript COMMENTARIES by Nikki van hiqhiowER Bill Narum Nine-Five: A Victory for Apathy It seems that everyone is now claiming victory with the approval of the 9-5 City Council election plan. Those in favor of single-member council districts claim to have defeated their at-large opponents, even though most leaders of the single- member district groups opposed this particular plan. Opponents of the single- member district plan are also patting themselves on the back because the 9-5 plan allowed for the least change that the U.S. Justice Department would tolerate and thus provided the best possibilities for keeping the present power system in tact. I believe that both sides were the losers and apathy was the winner. Only 11.3 percent of eligible voters bothered to take the five or so minutes necessary to express their opinion on how they would be represented in their city. It is interesting to speculate on what statement the other 88.7 percent of eligible voters have made by their non-participation. "It won't affect my life one way or the other?" "It was too confusing?" "Politics is rotten and I don't want to get involved in it?" Clearly there is a tremendous credibility gap between the political leaders and followers in the Houston community. There is some question whether the term "followers" is an appropriate one here, for the majority of the political constituents do not appear to be following anyone. Given the time, money, and energy spent on it, the single-member district issue was a very important one for the community leaders. However, they alone seemed to appreciate the importance of how the pie is to be divided up through election districts. Ironically, the lowest turnouts were in the city's minority precincts. Minority leaders were billing this election as a vote on whether or not they should have a greater piece of the decision making pie. Sadly, it seems that their constituents were not convinced that the division, one way or the other, would make much difference in their lives. Voter turnout in the white middle and upper-middle-class precincts suggests that although concern for the outcome of the election was not great by any means, their sense of the relevance of the election on their lives was greater than in the minority areas. The participation in this election reminds me of an article I read recently on the stress associated with life in Houston. Houston is described by Jerry Lester of Baylor University as a place where one comes to make a fortune only to be able to go where one really wants to live. The author compares Houston to the inside of an airplane-"you tolerate it until you get where you want to go and then you get off." I'm not sure that Lester was too far wrong in his assessment, but I would extend his classification of Houstonians. There are those who are here to make their fortune and then to move on to some place where people care about the quality of the life of their citizens. This group holds a great deal of power and influence in Houston. There are those who hold little power and influence and who feel that change is hopeless. Then there is a small group of people who truly wish to make Houston their home and are willing to make an investment in the money making schemes. These people retain the optimism that through conscientious hard work and community involvement Houston will be a politically progressive city. Unfortunately, as the voter turnout on the single-member district plan indicated, these people are a distinct minority-apathy wins again. Feminism is for Men I lost a friend a few weeks ago. His loss affected me deeply. Perhaps I could see the possibility of what happened to him happening to many other men of my acquaintance. Michael killed himself. The circumstances around the suicide are not too clear, for he tended to keep his personal problems to himself. He worked for a large corporation which transferred him and his family to Houston several years ago. Michael worked for them for many years and, I am told, he closely linked his identity with his employment there. A few weeks before he took his life he was told that he was being dismissed. The resulting identity crisis was apparently too much for him to bear. He purchased a pistol, stopped at one of the retail outlets of the company, and shot himself in the head. I suppose this was his way of forcing this impersonal corporation to recognize his pain. So far, women have been the direct beneficiaries of the women's movement. Within it and as the result of it women have grown, blossomed, shed old-identities and developed new ones. The changes have taken place not without pain but at least with the hope that wherever we were going with our lives, things would be better. Women are on the move, there is no doubt about it. Even the most insensitive males are feeling the impact, or perhaps I should say discomfort of it. The spirit of liberation, however one might wish to label it, has definitely caught on with women. But what about men? It is my opinion that in relation to women, they have virtually been standing still. The question is, why? Do men really have it so good that change in the direction of equality would be detrimental to the quality of their lives? Or is it that women have discouraged men's involvement in the movement. I contend that the answers to both questions are no. Men experience considerable discomfort from their roles in life. Some suffer so much that they, like Michael, end it. When I discuss the women's movement with men a common response is that they (men) don't have it so good either. They have heavy responsibilities and expectations that they must live up to. And, they go on to tell me, they don't go around griping and complaining like women are doing these days. When I suggest (as I always do) that they might be better off doing a little griping and complaining I usually receive a blank stare indicating that they have not yet conceived of the possibilities of either a real partner relationship with their spouse or periodic role switching. Being a man still seems to equal being a provider. It follows that giving up being a provider means giving up being a man. Being a man and being a provider means having control. Not maintaining control or allowing oneself to be dependent is feminine. Most men will quickly admit that their roles in life leave much to be desired, but nevertheless, they still cling tenaciously to them. Their roles, their jobs, mean, high status, relatively speaking their control equals their manhood. Few people voluntarily abandon higher for lower status. The trip in between is usually defined as failure. Men have a great deal to learn from feminism. Breaking down the role barriers is the key to unlocking their prison doors - prisons that they refuse to acknowledge exist. If my friend Michael had internalized feminism no corporation could have penetrated his sense of personhood/manhood. He, like many other men, bought into a self-destructive philosophy. The Continuing Textbook Battle Once again the yearly exercise to rid the sexist content from our children's textbooks is going on in Austin, led by the National Organization for Women and coordinated by Twiss Butler of Bay Area- NOW. The Commissioner of Education, the State Textbook Committee and textbook authors and publishers have all heard the arguments seven years in a row, yet it seems they are still not quite convinced that the content of textbooks really has much to do with the attitudes, opinions and self-perceptions that our youngsters acquire and take with them as adults. Worse, they may be fully aware of the impact of those books on children's attitudes. My own awareness about the image of women in textbooks took place somewhere around 1972. I was working on my doctorate at New York University and began to research a dissertation topic. An active women's movement in the New York area stimulated my interest in the topic of women in government. I soon realized, however, that I knew absolutely nothing about the subject of women in politics and government. Then, I asked myself why I knew nothing about it and from that question, a new sense of reality hit me. I had come through grade school, high school and the universities, earning bachelor's, a master's and almost a Ph.D. degree without ever hearing one lecture or reading more than a line or two of what was just as likely to be misinformation about women in government and politics. Now I was about to go out and join the ranks of teachers and perpetuate the same level of ignorance. At that time I doubt that I could have named five women who had done anything of consequence in the field of government or pohtics. Nor could I offer any explanation for women's apparent lack of activity in governing our own society. My research focused ultimately upon the political socialization of women. And how are women socialized through our textbooks? Politics has been identified as a male domain, and man has been identified as "the political animal." Political scientists and textbook authors have been content to categorize women as apolitical and have overlooked the crucial connection between education and citizenship. Typically, researchers have found that in government textbooks 1) women are largely omitted from the books used in junior and senior high schools; there are almost no women quoted; the great majority of illustrations show males only or men superior in status or numbers over women. Women are rarely used in case histories or examples. 2) There is ubiquitous use of masculine terminology (man/men, he/him, the man in the street, Mr. Average Citizen and Uncle Sam), and 3) there is no acknowledgement or discussion of the rules and practices that have kept women from leadership positions and in supportive and subordinate roles; there is completely inadequate coverage of the Nineteenth Amendment and the struggle for women's suffrage, with no mention of the heroes and leaders of the movement; there is little or misleading information of the current feminist movement-a political movement of profound importance to the high school girls who will be tomorrow's women. Given this training, or socialization, it is small wonder that women, constituting 51.3% of the population are represented by only one U.S. Senator, two state governors, four percent of the House of Representatives and no one on the Supreme Court. We are all the losers from this tacit political screening process. There are brilliant and caring young women in this country whose adult leadership we desperately need. Dr. Nikki Van Hightower is the executive director of the Houston Area Women's Center. HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH SEPTEMBER 1979