LOOKING FOR THE FIGHT
National Medd Hits Houston
Does the national news media come
to a major event with a pre-cast story
tucked in their belts?
That was very much apparent today
in moving through the various events of
the Pro-ERA forces.
The tone was set very early yesterday
morning at a National NOW press conference when NOW President Eleanor Smeal
answered a barrage of questions by the
press about what NOW was going to do if
the anti-ERA forces attempted to disrupt
At the 8 a.m. meeting, Smeal told
the media that NOW members were attending the conference as either delegates or
observers and that they would be totally
wrapped up in conference activities.
But it was apparent that the pre-cast
story for the majority of the national press
corps was "the anticipated (hoped for?)
confrontation" between the pros and
And as if by signal, throughout the
day the feminists and other pro-ERA
groups gave varying degrees of warnings to
the media not to "make the confrontation
At a Business and Professional Wom-
en's-sponsored media panel, retired U.S.
Rep. Martha Griffiths of Michigan said that
the actions of the anti-ERA forces would
not, she believes, have any effect on Congress and "won't have any effect unless
you people (the media) make it have an
When the torch was carried into the
convention site area by the runners at
1 p.m. Friday, IWY Chair Bella Abzug and
the many speakers who followed her, continued a positive, business-like approach to
The pre-cast purpose in the minds of
the pro-ERA supporters was clear . . . "business as usual and full steam ahead."
Later in the afternoon, Flo Kennedy
carried the torch of media reform a bit
further, calling women to return to their
homes and to immediately begin a campaign to "ban all commercials (radio-TV)
that make women look like imbeciles."
Kennedy told the women that
there are 125 major advertisers who must
be made to feel the economic pressure and
push of the women's drive for equality.
Again, almost as if on cue, although
unrehearsed, the final speaker of the 4 p.m.
rally at City Hall, Kate Millett, told worhen
of the constant calls she receives from
major media asking her whether "this action or thaj;" signals the termination of
the women's right movement.
"Houston is a sign of how big we
can get," Millett said, and added, "We're
here to stay."
By late afternoon the questions from
the press on the possibility of pro-anti
ERA clash possibilities had diminished.
But if any among us dares doubt
that the media is the message ... is the
message ... is the message, stay tuned for
tomorrow's agenda. By then Martha Grifr
fiths and Ellie Smeal and Kate Millett will
know if their "message" was heard.
The floor leader for the pro-family
delegates to the International Women's
Year Conference said Friday that her
forces may be able to reach a compromise
agreement with pro-ERA delegates on a
number of the conference's 26 resolutions,
including those on child abuse, rape and
credit for women.
However, the floor leader, Indiana
state Sen. Joan Gubbons, a Republican,
reiterated the pro-family group's continued
opposition to other resolutions, such as
the Equal Rights Amendment, abortion on
demand and the displaced homemaker's
bill which they believe will "undermine
the family unit."
Gubbons said at a press conference
Friday that she had not checked with
other pro-family leaders, but that she
personally believes a compromise might
be reached on several resolutions "if the
feminists are willing to do that sort of
On Gubbons' list of possible compromise resolutions are those on the arts
and humanities, employment and the
appointment or election of women, as
well as those in child abuse, credit
She said, though, that the resolution on the employment or appointment
of women needed to be modified by including the word "qualified."
"One of the things that's always
bothered me about feminists," Gubbons
said, "is that only once in all the years I've
been in office have I seen the word qualified used."
Gubbons' press conference Friday
afternoon at the Ramada Inn Civic Center
was part of day-long activities sponsored
by the Citizens Review Committee
Also speaking was Phyllis Schlafly,
national chair of STOP ERA, who said the
IWY was a "charade" which attempts to
tell the American public that it speaks for
American women, which she says it
She said recent votes against the
ERA in states like New York and Washington backed her stand on how American
women feel about the IWY proposals.
What American women want instead
of the IWY proposals, she said, is "a good
standard of living" and "the continued
recognition of the family as the primary
unit" of society.
Schlafly, as well as a number of
other speakers, told Dornan's committee
that the sponsors of IWY legislation in
Congress had promised that the conference
would represent "every woman of every
kind." However, she said, the state and
national conferences had been rigged by
pro-ERA forces to disenfranchise the anti-
Organizers of Houston's Equal Rights
for Women Welcome Rally gave at least
1,500 women a chance to laugh, cheer,
chant and shout on the grounds of City
The rally was called to honor the
author of the Equal Rights Amendment,
It was "herstory" in the making as
Dolores Huerta of the United Farm Workers, Luz Gutierrez of La Raza Unida
Party, Houston Women's Advocate Nikki
Van Hightower and others took to the
podium. Kate Millett and the Harrison
and Tyler comedy team also appeared
at the rally.
"We must not let a vocal minority
stop us from getting our rights," humorist z
Flo Kennedy told the receptive audience. ^
Her songs set the crowd to clapping and u.
stomping as the "old pro" of the fund- ^
raising hustle passed the hat for the ERA, *
telling the women to "get out of the kit- ^
chen and back into the streets where w
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PAGE 10 NOVEMBER 19, 1977 DAILY BREAKTHROUGH