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Houston Breakthrough, May 1979
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Houston Breakthrough, May 1979 - Page 5. May 1979. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. January 28, 2021. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/630/show/607.

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.

(May 1979). Houston Breakthrough, May 1979 - Page 5. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/630/show/607

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, May 1979 - Page 5, May 1979, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed January 28, 2021, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/630/show/607.

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, May 1979
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date May 1979
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL 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 UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
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Title Page 5
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File Name femin_201109_550ae.jpg
Transcript COMMENTARIES by Nikki van hiqkro\x/ER Bill Narum Is Pregancy Obsolete? It has been interesting to observe the reaction over the last decade to the declining fertility rate. At first the consensus among sociologists was that women were merely postponing pregnancy. I noted a sort of smug confidence that, although women might opt for a delay, there was just no way that they could overcome their powerful maternal instincts and forgo motherhood altogether. As we moved deeper into the seventies and the birthrate continued to decline- making it obvious that most women were having fewer children, but that many women were having no children—the prognosis changed somewhat. The social scientists then began to speculate that this unusual 60's generation might, in fact, pass up motherhood altogether, but they still projected things would return to normal. Any population figure that indicated that the birthrate had gone up for some period was grasped as a sign that women were once again listening to the message indelibly written into their genes. One could almost hear the sigh of relief that went along with the forecast. I am one who believes that one's desire for maternity and motherhood is a conditioned choice. That desire can be increased or decreased depending on the messages that society gives us. The conditioning has not changed over the last decade or so. We are still told in every possible way that motherhood is the be-all and end-all of womanhood. However, a new sense of reality about the costs of parenting imposed upon mothers has broken through the propaganda barrage. The underlying messages about society's support for motherhood have included the loss of jobs because of pregnancy, denial of health insurance for pregnancy and related matters, refusal to hire because of pregnancy or responsibility for small children, refusal to rent apartments or homes to families with small children, abandonment by fathers, lack of child support, lack of child care, and displacement and financial insecurity as rewards for the full-time mother/homemaker vocation. All the soap commercials in the world can no longer obscure these economic realities of motherhood. Pregnancy, motherhood and child care are treated as aberrations, things that cannot be integrated into the mainstream of life. Consider the firefighter Linda Eaton of Iowa City, Iowa, and teacher Janice Dike of Orlando, Florida and their battle to be allowed to breast-feed their babies during unscheduled work time. And then there is ridicule. (See the cartoon series "Momma" in the Houston Post as an example of downright viciousness toward motherhood.) Please understand my comments are not directed toward mothering, per se. If goes without saying that there must be tremendous rewards and gratifications involved in bringing a life into the world and having a hand in shaping it. No, this commentary is about the treatment of mothers and children by the society. Because of the contradictions in our family-oriented society, many women have decided not to have children. These decisions in most cases have not been easy. For most of the women I know who have made them, it has been quite excruciating —not because of some maternal instinct, but because they are passing up a very exciting and important human experience. Will the birthrate continue to decline? The answer is probably yes. Our society has outpriced and undervalued the role of motherhood. And, women have gotten the message. The Mayor is a Loser I suppose I would feel less offended about the McConn gambling matter if I were not personally aware of great difficulty in raising money for worthy causes to meet the many needs of our citizens here in Houston. Apparently it is not too difficult to raise money for "unworthy" causes, such as Las Vegas gambling debts, particularly when one is the Mayor of Houston. What is most discouraging is that the Mayor would choose to use his influence in this way, rather than in improving the lives of our citizens. Remarks made before the media suggest that Mayor McConn is treating the whole matter rather lightly. A "personal indiscretion," he calls it. He jokes about his gambling prowess. His remark in the May 1 issue of the Houston Post about his wife's expressed displeasure implies a "boys will be boys" writeoff of the whole matter. The scenario begins when the Mayor goes out to Las Vegas to attend a Home- builders' Convention and he and a couple of unnamed friends sustain several thousand dollars in gambling losses. The Mayor's share was $3200. McConn then calls the city purchasing director Jack Key, who had said that if McConn had any money problems, "he had friends out there who could help him." McConn asks Key to arrange a $6000 loan. Part of the money was to pay off the current gambling debts and $2800 was for additional gambling money. Apparently it was a "no questions asked" deal. McConn still claims he had no_idea where the money came from and it is evident he made no special effort to find out. "Ignorance is bliss." CoincidentaUy, or so we are told, a city contractor, Jimmy Co wart, complained to the FBI about alleged kickbacks in the amount of $6000 paid to Jack Key. Key told Cowart that the money was for someone other than himself. The very appointment of bankroller Jack Key as purchasing director is questionable. Key had no prior experience in such a position. Inexplicably the Mayor and City Council members defended the appointment on the basis that Jack Key's brother, Bob Key, had done a good job as acting assistant director of the City's Health Department. You tell me what one has to do with the other. The reasoning escapes me. The entire escapade in Las Vegas presents an image of the mayor as a man lacking a sense of financial responsibility. His construction company is still $200,000 in debt, but this personal indebtedness did not deter him from gambling away funds and then borrowing to gamble more. Perhaps Mayor McConn is guilty of no more than stupidity and gross irresponsibility. Nevertheless, I question whether we can afford to have someone of his caliber holding the highest elected office in the City of Houston. The Rich Get Richer A picture is beginning to emerge of the form that Governor Clements' promised tax savings is going to take. Teachers' salaries are targeted to make up some of the savings. It figures. They are mostly women. There was a glimmer of hope at one time that we were going to save money on some big executive salaries because the governor was bringing in some "dollar-a- year men," but that now looks like it might be nothing more than a clever sleight of hand. At least one of those volunteer's expenses is exceeding the salaries of many full-time employees. It seems that the volunteers were brought in on some rather unusual consultant contracts that legally allow them to bill the state government for unlimited expenses. So there goes that savings. As usual, the big guys aren't having to share in the belt-tightening. The Texas Department of Community Affairs was selected quite legitimately, some feel, for some fat trimming. Omar Harvey, the man appointed by Clements for the job, promised a 25 percent cutback in TDCA personnel. So how did Harvey go about getting rid of the deadwood? In the April issue of Texas Monthly, Paul Burka described the promised surgery as follows: "It was a little like a doctor helping an obese patient to lose weight by lopping off a foot, an arm, and an ear. There were no personnel evaluations ('We lost some good people,' Harvey admits) and no studies to find out which divisions produced and which ones didn 't. Nor was there any attempt to identify superfluous positions below the managerial level. " Author Burka concludes that, "In the end the reductions had no relation to a division's work or its reputation with the agency." Governor Clements has come out in favor of decontrol of oil prices and in opposition to any windfall profits tax. Although he initially opposed any increase in maximum interest rates that could be charged by savings and loan institutions, he seems to be weakening on that position. These last two matters are not directly related to the cost of government, but they certainly are related to the cost of living for Texas consumers. Somehow I don't feel terribly optimistic about the tax savings that we are going to realize under the Clements administra- tion-a little shifting and changing of budget accounts perhaps, but little real savings. There is also something that needs to be said for the quality of our government and the services it provides people. I would personally challenge anyone to find a living, breathing Texan who would not agree that there is waste in government. But should the savings come at the cost of our children's education or through irrational personnel cutbacks that may save a little money in the immediate sense, but cost dearly in the long run, as worthy programs are gutted and experienced personnel are dumped? In the meantime, fat expense reports are being tolerated, energy costs are allowed to go up and perhaps interest rates will be allowed to rise. I sometimes wonder if it is really possible to get a leader who is as genuinely interested in saving the money of the average consumer as he is in saving money for businesses, corporations and wealthy individuals. Somehow our election process just seems to work against such leaders emerging. If you'll excuse me, I think 111 resume eating my cake. Dr. Nikki Van Hightower is president of the Houston Area Women's Center and a former radio commentator. Houston Breakthrough May 1979