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Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 4, No. 1, December 1978 - January 1979
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Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 4, No. 1, December 1978 - January 1979 - Page 3. December 1978 - January 1979. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. August 3, 2020. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/884/show/859.

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.

(December 1978 - January 1979). Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 4, No. 1, December 1978 - January 1979 - Page 3. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/884/show/859

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, Vol. 4, No. 1, December 1978 - January 1979 - Page 3, December 1978 - January 1979, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed August 3, 2020, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/884/show/859.

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, Vol. 4, No. 1, December 1978 - January 1979
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date December 1978 - January 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.
File Name index.cpd
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Title Page 3
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File Name femin_201109_546ac.jpg
Transcript Bill Narum COMMENTARIES by Nikki van hiqhrowER Pregnancy Insurance Benefits Employees of childbearing age have gained a new legal status. President Carter has put his signature to a Congressional bill clarifying Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Employers may no longer treat pregnancy, childbirth and related conditions differently from any other temporary disability under their health insurance policies. Oh, the weeping and gnashing of teeth that went into passage of this bill. "It is their choice," some wailed. "Men should not have to pay for a condition that only affects women," others contended. "Women will come to work only to get pregnant and take advantage of the health insurance policy," it was charged. Many policies covered pregnancy only if a husband was also covered under the policy. In other words, employers took it upon themselves to uphold the morals of this country through the denial of health coverage to unmarried pregnant women. Oh yes, we musn't forget the good old standby argument that coverage for pregnancy was simply too costly. I have worked in companies where I saw health insurance denied a pregnant worker but fully cover a costly bypass operation and the months of disability following surgery. I have been employed in places where pregnancy disability was excluded under policies that covered a wide range of elective surgery, including hair transplants. I have held jobs in companies where comprehensive health coverage was provided for wives of male employees, but their own female employees were given no health coverage for pregnancy. The new law makes it illegal to discriminate against a woman worker when she's pregnant. Effective immediately, a company can no longer: • deprive a woman of seniority rights, in pay, promotion, pension or other benefits due to her maternity leave •refuse to hire a woman just because she's pregnant, or fire her for the same reason. Women workers will enjoy additional health insurance benefits. As of April 29, 1979, employers may no longer: •refuse to cover an employee's normal pregnancy and delivery expenses in the company health plan or pay less for pregnancy than for other medical conditions. (However, they still may exclude abortions.) •refuse to pay sick leave or disability benefits to women whose difficult pregnancies keep them off the job. Once again, a federal law had to be passed to guarantee women their rights to basic health care. Feminism: inclusive or exclusive? I read Lindsay Van Gelder's article in the December issue of Ms. magazine, Cracking the Women's Movement Protection Game with great interest. I am sure we have all felt and continue to feel the kind of defensiveness about our movement to which she was referring. I would like to go one step further, not only do we have to gain enough confidence in our cause to allow honesty and openness about ourselves, but we also need to encourage the involvement of those people who are new to feminism, who have some level of understanding, but who have not yet developed the same commitment as those who have been involved in the movement for many years. I have not found that to be the case. The kind of exclusiveness I am referring to came home to me when the Houston Area Women's Center was criticized for not having feminists on its board or not being a feminist organization. This charge was apparently based on the fact that some of the members had not been actively involved in one of the traditional feminist organizations. The Houston Area Women's Center is an organization devoted to the expansion of the scope of women's lives. I have to ask myself, is that not a feminist goal and are not the people who are working toward that goal, by definition, feminist. Must they be card-carrying members of a particular organization to be considered feminist? I guess what I am really asking is, Is feminism not an inclusive, rather than an exclusive concept? Isn't it an ideal for which anyone can work, at any level and in any context and are not those who work toward the ideal by definition feminists? Feminism is more a process than a state of being. I think sometimes that we are deceived by the word feminist which implies that there is a final state that can be achieved. I sincerely hope that there is never a final state to feminism, never a status quo, that it will always involve growth and expansion of our lives. Yet I have heard the statement from some of us who consider ourselves feminist that others are not "real" feminists and thus that there is some danger in including them in our activities. There is an implication that they should remain at arm's length until they have become properly indoctrinated or purified, before being allowed to work for the cause of equal rights. What utter nonsense this is. There is no better way to gain commitment to the cause of women's rights than to participate in the worthy activities associated with it. Our cause is just. We have nothing to fear and nothing to hide. As Lindsay Van Gelder stated, "Feminism isn't a product that promises to put a shine on your kitchen floor. We don't have to sell it. It sells itself on its own merits-the real depths to which it touches our lives." Our exclusiveness brings us no security, only self-defeat. If someone has taken just one little step in the direction of feminism, which almost every thinking person has, we must build from that point, not turn our back on them because they do not yet know everything there is to know about feminism. None of us do. The women's movement has taken an interesting and exciting turn in the last few years. The load is no longer being carried by NOW, the Women's Political Caucus and other traditional feminist organizations alone. It is being shared by church, educational and professional groups, homemakers, labor unions and others. The people working within those groups need our knowledge of the movement, as we need their new ideas, inspiration, energy and talent. We need each other. Family Stability With all the bad news about family instability and the ghastly divorce rate, which is almost in a dead heat with marriages here in Harris County, it's nice to get a hopeful message indicating that people still hold considerable value for family life. Interestingly, good news for the fam- ly might very well be bad news for business and industry. There is a trend by employees to resist transfers and even promotions if a move is involved and if that move might be disruptive to their family life. I may be wrong but I see this as a sign that people are placing renewed value on family life and that they are willing to make some personal sacrifices to preserve it. Our idea of family stability in the past was that it should be geared around the career interests of one person—the husband, father, the so-called head of the family. If he saw it as being in his best interest to move, then it was assumed that it was in the best interest of everyone in the family. Now, as the wife and/or mother expresses strong ties to her community the interests and lifestyles of two people have to be considered. Increased employment of women has given wives the opportunity of making demands in their own self- interest and it has allowed husbands the option of saying no to a company move, because the income of the two together, even if his should level off, is often considerably more than his alone. Last year only 17.7 percent of the population packed up and moved, the lowest figure in more than a generation. Companies cannot ignore this trend. They must now see their male or female executives as part of a larger family unit. Maybe there is hope for the family after all. Scrambling up that corporate ladder may look like an exercise in futility if there is no one else to share the rewards at the top. I sense that a healthy examination of the old work-ethic values and the patriarchal family structure will lead to greater priority being placed on family life. Women in Public Office It could be debated as to whether this past election resulted in a gain or loss for women holding elective offices. A woman won a seat in the U.S. Senate for the first time in twelve years. One out of 100! Still, it is better than none out of one hundred. Women sustained a net loss of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, going from 18 to 16 out of 435 House seats. This is lower than the number of seats women held as far back as 1962. Women did much better at state and local levels, capturing many new executive and judicial-level offices as well as legislative seats around the country. A question that I often hear asked is, "Can't men represent the interests of women as well as women?" Just like, "Can't whites represent the interests of blacks and Mexican/Americans?" or "Cannot the rich adequately represent the poor? or business represent labor?" What often seems implied in such questions is, "Aren't males, whites, the rich or corporate heads really more knowledgeable about our problems and simply better at problem solving because of their backgrounds and experiences?" The question implies a suggestion of "Trust us, we will take care of you." In the case of women there is no doubt that some men are extremely sensitive to the needs of women in this age of transition. However, those who are will be the first to say that it is extremely important for women to participate in government. Self-development and fulfillment come from taking care of oneself as opposed to being cared for by someone else. Having in office representatives with whom we identify gives us a sense of caring for ourselves and governing ourselves. It is important for all of us, particularly our young people to learn that leaders come from all races, all backgrounds and all ethnic origins. If youngsters do not see people like themselves holding public office, it is unlikely that their imaginations will be stimulated to aspire to such positions as they grow into adults. Sometimes it is very hard to understand, when you are the one in power, the dis- gruntlement of those who are outside. Probably the best way to gain understanding is to try to imagine what it would be like if the roles were reversed. Ask the question this way, "Couldn't women, minorities, the poor, and the laboring class adequately represent males, whites, the rich and those with corporate interests?" What do you think? DECEMBER/JANUARY 1979 HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH