Women and the Politics of Empowerment

By Ann Bookman; Sandra Morgen | Go to book overview

14
"Carry It On": Continuing the Discussion and the Struggle

Ann Bookman Sandra Morgen

Working-class women today confront most of the same issues and problems as the women portrayed in this book. However, the political and economic landscape has changed in significant ways, posing great challenges to women who struggle for social change. The last few years have witnessed the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment and the resurgence of racism, highlighted by increasing attacks on people of color -- from the schools and college campuses of the Northeast to the small towns of the South. There has been dramatic backsliding at both the legislative and judicial levels of support for affirmative action, school desegregation, voting rights, and civil rights for lesbians and gays. Budget cuts have sliced into programs to provide day care, job training, human services, and financial support to low-income women and men. The prolife movement, with political support from the White House, continues to try to reverse women's hard-won rights to control their reproductive lives. The Reagan administration has made no secret of its intention to dismantle the programs and government infrastructure that fostered political equality and economic opportunity for women, people of color, and the poor. The hard work of social reform has been replaced with a facile political discourse that promises a return to traditional values, lower taxes, a "sanctified" family, and a "strong America."

Meanwhile women see images of "their" success paraded across magazine headlines and television screens -- supposedly evidence that the old days of discrimination are over. In fact, the gains of the "New Woman" are disproportionally reaped by white professional and managerial women. In the workplace, most women face occupational segregation and gender-based wage differentials, as well as higher rates of unemployment and underemployment than men. In the

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