Golden Glow of Reagan Legacy Lacks Luster for Feminists
Ronald W. Reagan's presidency ended 15 years ago. Media coverage this summer bathed hi s death and burial in a golden glow of good memories. Even from the grave, the former actor weaved his magic, making it seem that only sullen, pessimistic misanthropists failed to enjoy the glorious years of his presidential reign.
For the record, it behooves feminists to remember that his presidency began the long descent into reactionary politics, which culminated in the presidency of George W. Bush. For women, minorities and the poor, the Reagan years were the bad old days.
A few reminders:
It was Reagan who proposed and promoted (among many other anti-abortion measures) the Human Life Amendment to the Constitution that would have overturned Roe v. Wade and banned many forms of contraception. Reagan repeatedly compared abortion to murder, infanticide, slavery and the Holocaust.
Reagan made the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation the unofficial think-tank of his administration and George Gilder's "Wealth and Poverty" its economic handbook. Gilder's economic theory, elaborated further in "Sexual Suicide," depended on the notion that women should leave the workplace to make room for more men and concentrate on raising the next generation of workers.
Reagan turned back the clock on judicial appointments for women after substantial progress made by President Jimmy Carter, who increased the numbers of women judges. …