Women and the Politics of Empowerment

By Ann Bookman; Sandra Morgen | Go to book overview

cal consciousness in working-class women can guide us in developing conceptual frameworks that capture the complex ways that gender, race, ethnicity, and class become politically meaningful in their interrelatedness in daily life and political involvement.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I want to gratefully acknowledge the many conversations I had during the course of this campaign with activists directly involved in the struggle and others active politically in the community. That they go unnamed (to preserve anonymity) in no way belies the value of their insights and contributions.


NOTES
1.
"Fleetport" is a pseudonym for a community of approximately one hundred thousand people in the northeastern United States. For a more detailed discussion of the community and its health care, see Sandra Morgen, "The Dynamics of Cooptation in a Feminist Health Clinic", Social Science and Medicine 23, No. 2 ( 1986): 201-210.
2.
During my fieldwork I conducted a study of the health needs and attitudes of low-income women in Fleetport. The results of the survey of more than 250 low-income women showed very real problems of cost, accessibility, and atmosphere facing women seeking health care from the available sources. Clinic care was perceived to be problematic in terms of concerns ranging from length of waits for appointments to crowding. Nevertheless, clinic care rated much higher than private care on such items as affordability and the perceived treatment of patients. At the time of the termination of clinic services, in the autumn of 1977, attendance at the prenatal and gynecology clinics was high.
3.
I was a participant-observer in the feminist health clinic from April 1977 through late 1979. During my involvement with CAFH I was regarded as a representative of the feminist clinic to CAFH by both CAFH and feminist collective members.
4.
The Health Systems Agency ( HSA) discussed in this paper was a local subarea council. HSAs, established nationwide with the 1974 passage of the National Health Planning and Resource Development Act, are mechanisms for joint planning of health care by professionals and consumers. HSAs exist on the state, regional, and (in some cases) local level. There are complicated formulas for mandating representatives from different sexual, racial, age, and occupational groups. For a discussion of HSAs and their limitations in fostering consumer/community-controlled health care, see articles in Victor and Ruth Sidel, eds., Reforming Medicine: Lessons of the Last Quarter Century ( New York: Pantheon, 1984).
5.
The "Ten Taxpayers" suit is a procedural suit that can be filed by any ten "taxpaying citizens" in a community. The suit made these ten taxpayers (and CAFH) party to a petition filed with the state department of Public Health concerning a proposed capital improvement campaign by the hospital. Although I do not discuss in detail the impact of the filing of the suit on the coalition, let me note here that the suit did ultimately create considerable tension between working-class and middle-class women in the group. Although everyone had agreed that CAFH should file the suit as a means of securing the information it needed for its continued successful organizing, legal intricacies became all

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