The vacancy in the Houston City Comptroller's office had women,
blacks and Chicanos vying for a foothold in city government. In no time
at all, the situation became another test of strength among those groups
which have never received adequate representation in either elective
or appointive government positions.
As soon as the possibility of an appointment was manifest, each group
sought the City Council's consideration. The response from Council
seemed clear: if this political prize was to go to any of the "have-not"
groups, it would go to the one which could promise the most in return.
So, once again, the people who share the onus of exclusion from the
political system were unable to unify for their mutual benefit, but were
thrust instead into fierce competition for the favor of City Hall. Small
wonder that Council members found none of the names submitted to
them acceptable and opted instead for the non-controversial appointment of the City Treasurer as caretaker for the Comptroller's office until
It would seem that no single political minority is strong enough acting
alone to have a significant impact on the power structure. It is only when
we pool our political resources that we can gain leverage in the system.
Why haven't effective coalitions among the "have-nots" been established? The idea is not a new one. The suggestion has been heard for
years at political strategy meetings in all of the under-represented
communities. But a sense of cooperation and trust has yet to be
It appears that women would have much to offer such a coalition
effort. However, women candidates have been consistently expected to
step aside in favor of minority males. The idea prevails that lack of
representation in government is not as serious a problem for women as
for the ethnic minorities.
Women are ready to work in harmony with other groups to gain
access to the political power structure, but only when their needs for
access and representation are given the same priority as the needs of
any other minority. A true coalition needs to happen soon.
Liz Carpenter, former press secretary to Lady Bird
Johnson and current co-chair of ERAmerica (a force
of 120 national organizations ranging from the American Bar Association to the Girl Scouts) testified for the
ERA at committee hearings last month. The following
is a transcript of some of her more memorable
"l have been traveling in an effort to win support for
ERA and I have met with many of the "no" votes in the
state legislatures — the "fun and game" boys who
would make the Equal Rights Amendment a political
football. I've typed the kind of man who votes against
it and while I am sure that none of these classifications would apply in Texas, I think you might like to
hear who is voting "no" in other states.
Representative Consensus: He doesn't want to take a
stand until "you girls get together". We aren't going
to get together any more than women were together
on other issues — including the right to vote. Many
who opposed the right to vote for women are using
the same trite arguments: Why do we need it?
Doesn't it open up unknown dangers? Doesn't it take
away our femininity to go into a polling place?
AN ECONOMIC BOYCOTT
I Thirty-five states have now ratified the ERA"
but three more votes are necessary (for a total
of 38, the required three-fourths of the states).
The 15 states which have not yet ratified span
the South, Midwest and West. Plan to vacatioQ
elsewhere this summer.
Representative Master of the Castle: This is the man
who never associates with women except in bed or
the kitchen, and he wants to keep them there because
of his own insecurity. He doesn't think marriage is a
partnership. What he earns is his money. What property he buys is his property.
Cover photo by Nancy Landau
Art — Mark Stinson, Job Williams
Circulation — Karen Barrett, Paula Herrera, Elizabeth Maxwell, Lynne Mutchler,
Niami Smith, Sara Spahr
Copy editing/Proofreading — Donna Adair, Sam E.J. Akers, Gabrielle Cosgriff,
Office — Frances Bellikoff, Janice Blue, Linda Niederhofer
Photography — Janice Blue, Janis Fowles, Marilyn Jones, Nancy Landau,
F. Carter Smith
Production — Karen Barrett, Janice Blue, Deborah Diamond Hicks, Charley
Kubricht, Ernie Shawver
State-wide correspondents — Austin: Ann Kennedy
Typesetting — Karen Barrett, Deborah Diamond Hicks, Linda Niederhofer
Gertrude Barnstone, Karen Barrett
Janice Blue, Gabrielle Cosgriff
Vol. II, No. 5, May 1977, Houston Breakthrough is published monthly (with the
exception of the July-August and December-January issues) by the Breakthrough
Publishing Company, 1708 Rosewood, Houston, Texas 77004. P.O. Box 88072,
Houston, Texas 77004. Telephone: (713) 526-6686. Subscriptions $5.00 a year.
50 cents per copy. This publication is on file at the International Women's History
Archive in the Special Collections Library, Northwestern University, Evanston,
Illinois 60201. No part of this newspaper may be reproduced without permission.
©Houston Breakthrough Publishing Company
PAGE 2 • MAY 1977 • HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH
Representative States' Rights: This is a man who
suffers apoplexy every time the word "federal" or
"Congress" is mentioned. He looks at the second
section of the amendment, exactly like the second
section of the 13th, 14th, 15th, 19th, 23rd, and 24th
amendments and thinks there should be something
different about the Equal Rights Amendment.
Representative Apron Strings: He tells you, "Oh, I
voted against it because my wife is against it." Now,
there isn't one other issue where he would use this to
justify a position on a vote. And often, he hasn't even
Representative Postoffice: This is a member who
doesn't lead, but is led, who takes the mail and
weighs or counts which side can get the most letters
in. He doesn't look at the quality of the argument
or who generated the letter. And so he doesn't know
that many of these letters come from the same people
who got writer's cramp trying to impeach Earl
Representative Macho: Here's one for you — he is a
dirty old man who grew up as a dirty little boy. He
enjoys sensational gossip, fed to him by the fear and
smear artist, that the ERA will lead to co-ed bathrooms, trench warfare, and homosexual marriages.
"Play me that old pornograph again," he says as he
rails against it. None of these phases exist except
in the Representative's mind. Governors of five states,
where ERA has not only been ratified but put into the
state constitution, have stated that not one of these
allegations has come true.
These are the usual types found in the handful of
"no" votes which are keeping 52% of the population
out of the Constitution.
I hope we do not find them in Texas. I know a little
bit about politics, and I assure you that the people
who were against civil rights in the '60's, for the most
part, are out of office. I firmly believe that those who
are against equal rights will uTtimately also be out