"Patricia O'Kane, an attorney who deals both privately and with ACLU in sex discrimination cases, says the Supreme Court Opinion on pregnancy benefits reinforces old sexist stereotypes that most women can afford to stay home with the
children and not work . . ."
Houston Chronicle, December 9, 1976
WHEN WE NEED FRIENDS
OTHER WOMEN TELL US
I HA VE TO SA VE THINGS FOR MYSELF
BECAUSE IM NOT SURE YOU COULD SA VE ME
IF OUR PLACES WERE REVERSED
BECAUSE I SUSPECT
YOU WONT EVEN BE AROUND
TO SA VE ME WHEN I NEED YOU
IM ALONE ON THE STREETS
AT5 IN THE MORNING
IM ALONE COOKING MY RICE
"In the Matter of the Marriage of X
Patricia A. O'Kane and X
Michael T. Donahue X
In the Court of Domestic
Relations No. 2, Harris
Harris County, Divorce records, May, 1977.
SLOWLY WE BEGIN
Gl VING BA CK WHA T WAS TA KEN AWAY
OUR RIGHT TO THE CONTROL OF OUR BODIES
KNOWLEDGE OF HOW TO FIGHT AND BUILD
FOOD THAT NOURISHES
MEDICINE THA T HE A LS
SONGS THA T REMIND US OF OURSEL VES
AND MAKE US WANT TO KEEP ON WITH
WHA T MA ITERS TO US
"It is incredible to me that this is the 10th year that women attorney, law students
and legal workers have organized a national conference on Women and the Law
I hope to be participating in the 30th conference that brings us all together to discuss legal issues affecting women."
PAO'K, Tenth Annual Conference on Women and the Law,
March, 1979, San Antonio.
LETS COME OUT AGAIN
JOINING WOMEN COMING OUT
FOR THE FIRST TIME
KNOWING THIS LOVE MAKES
A GOOD DIFFERENCE IN US
AFFIRMING A CONTINUING LIFE WITH WOMEN
WE MUST BE LOVERS DOCTORS SOLDIERS
ARTISTS MECHANICS FARMERS
ALL OUR LIVES
WA VES OF WOMEN
TREMBLING WITH LOVE AND ANGER
'The National Women's Conference has overwhelmingly endorsed the rights of
Lesbians to openly pursue a homosexual lifestyle. When the sexual preference issue
came on the floor, several hundred promoters of the lesbian cause came into the
hall, many carrying signs and balloons with slogans saying 'We are everywhere' "
SINGING WE MUST RAGE "^^ ^^^ N°VGmber 21' 197?"
KISSING, TURN AND
BREAK THE OLD SOCIETY
WITHOUT BECOMING THE NAMES IT PRAISES
THE MINDS IT PAYS
"Dear Ms O'Kane, It has been our pleasure to approve and place on record the
Articles of Incorporation for the Houston Area Women's Center. We extend our
best wishes for success in your new venture."
r- ^ Secretary of State to PAO'K Octohpr 1Q77
EAT RICE HAVE FAITH IN WOMEN October 1977.
WHA TI DO NT KNOW NOW
I CAN STILL LEARN
IF I LEARN I CAN TEACH OTHERS
IF OTHERS LEARN FIRST
I MUST BELIEVE
THEY WILL COME BACK AND TEACH ME
"An activist attorney has been named by Mayor Jim McConn to Houston's newly
created Police Advisory Commission. Patricia O'Kane called her appointment 'a
clear indication of the political clout of the gay community.' "
U.THCEHAVE FA,THm WOMEN by P,„ „,„.„,. S^&tSSSS
Futurist and urban planner
I regularly plan programs for the World
Future Society's local gatherings, so this
fl exercise—a retrospective piece on the past'
rA decade—should prove a worthwhile one
$| for a futurist. It might provide a wider
perspective of my present, and offer an
even better prospective on my own future.
That noun, prospective, is one of my
I favorite words and symbolic of my approach to urban/regional, corporate or
other planning work that I do, for the
word addresses conditions as they exist,
yet envisions changes—ideally, in time to
plan for necessary changes before crises
Towards the end of 1969 we lived on
some Virginia acreage near Washington,
D.C. where I spent about equal time wandering through the woods down towards
the pond, housewifing, and working
as a research assistant. One morning, our
16-year-old daughter left her leaf-raking
and invited her parents to join her in a
march on Washington to protest Nixon's
planned invasion of Cambodia. My husband's ailing heart kept him from going
but I went with her.
I marched, listened to earnest speeches,
and still marvel at how 300,000 young
f people from all across the country knew
3Jj to gather on the ellipse across from the
W White House within 10 days despite their
gf having no access to any major television
& channels, nor to the larger newspapers.
That was prelude to the seventies for me.
The Vietnam War dragged on into it.
A decade ago, with two daughters almost raised, I realized my husband was
dying. I decided that if I must be alone I
had to become a more interesting person
for myself to be around. To that end, I
enrolled in the graduate program in urban
studies in the new town of Reston, Vir-
ginia, because it was the'most interdisciplinary course I could find.
By mid-January 1974, John Elms was
dead, buried in view of the mountain at
Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada where
he'd been a young ski instructor in a earlier day. He had been uncommonly handsome, so interesting, really good for
bouncing ideas back and forth. I smile
sometimes now to recall that he was the
one who got me involved in the women's
liberation movement, but dying seems
going rather too far to prove the point,
don't you agree? We had quite a few
dark-humored jokes of that kind.
I was working in Washington by this
time, at the Public Affairs Council where
I learned how larger corporations "interface" with cities and governments, their
external environment. The work dovetailed with my courses in urban planning
and I became increasingly fascinated with
the ways these entities—companies, on
the one hand, and cities, local, state and
national and international governments
on the other hand-become ever more
symbiotic in their relations with one another. I loved my work, the people I
worked with, but financially, I was falling
As a native Houstonian, letters from
my mother, begging me to come live with
her so she wouldn't have to move to a
nursing home, letters explaining her impending blindness, her failing stamina,
brought me to a decision to return after
25 years in the north.
Mother died last spring. My daughters
are in California and Virginia. My M.A. in
Urban Studies, three years urban planning
experience, and good friends; these are
mine now. I find myself in pretty good
shape to enter another decade-except
The Gray Panthers
I plan to remedy the financial defi
ciency by testing the claims of certain larger firms that they will hire well-qualified
individuals in management positions
without regard to age or sex. I have excellent background for being an issues management expert in a corporate setting.
Until recently corporations seldom
hired a 56-year-old woman for such a
position. To combat that policy, born of
stereotyping, I became one of the founding mothers (in 1976) of the Houston
Chapter of the Gray Panthers, an organi-
ation of both young and old citizens established to combat ageism, whether subtle or blatant.
As one young Gray Panther member
put it, "The average length of time spent
with the larger corporation by management personnel is now seven years. My
mother and my grandfather each has
more good years than that to give to a
company. Hiring older people, even for
entry and mid-level positions in management makes good sense now."
Indeed, corporations still follow an
outmoded policy of hiring younger management on the assumption that, given
the proper incentives, they will be with
the firm another 30 years. Facts contradict this, but status-quo thinking dies
Last October 25, 500 concerned citizens including Maggie Kuhn and other
Gray Panthers and religious leaders, shut
down the Department of Energy in Washington for the whole afternoon. With no
arrests and no violence to make it "newsworthy," this unprecedented obstruction
of DOE operations by a wide cross-section
of Americans went virtually unreported
outside Washington, D.C.
The Gray Panthers in Houston lies fallow as an organization these days. Lack
of funds and office space rather than lack
of interest, make me suspect this condition will correct itself in the early '80's.