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8/30/1995 - From Beijing...
The Feminist Majority's delegation to the Fourth World Women's Conference reports that conditions in Beijing are good. Yesterday, they traveled to Huairou, and the conditions there were far more "rustic." The commute, however, did not cause any of the expected problems and took approximately forty minutes. The delegation also has easy access to computers and will start e-mailing conference updates tomorrow. The opening ceremonies for the Non-Government Organizations forum begins today!
In 1990 three-thousand delegates and eleven thousand activists convened in Nairobi to attend the United Nation Women’s Conference. This year, despite adverse circumstances such as a last-minute site change and difficulty in obtaining visas, over forty-thousand women plan to attend the Beijing Conference. Six thousand delegates will attend the Fourth World Conference on Women, and some thirty-six thousand will attend the Non-Government Organizations Forum. This sharp increase in attendees clearly demonstrates the growth of women’s movements worldwide, a growth due in part to the successful women’s conferences in Mexico City (1975), Copenhagen (1980), and Nairobi (1990).
Be sure to look for special reports directly from members of the Feminist Majority’s delegation, now at the NGO Forum.
While celebrating the 75th anniversary of the nineteenth amendment in Wyoming, the Clintons reiterated the importance of the United Nations Fourth World Conference on women. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday accepted an invitation to attend the conference, commenting that her trip to Beijing will be "about giving a voice to women," as the U.S. delegation "will try to focus attention on the challenges and burdens women face trying to improve their lives." President Clinton also remarked that the conference will be "true-blue to families." Women’s organizations across the United States supported the decision to attend.
8/29/1995 - Calvin Klein, Inc. to Cease Latest Ad Campaign
Under fire from child welfare authorities, leaders of the Catholic league and the conservative American Family Association, Calvin Klein, Inc. announced Monday that it would cease its latest ad campaign for Klein's designer jeans. The critics, who threatened a nationwide boycott, likened the ads to child-pornography and argued that Klein had gone too far this time in his use of children and erotica to sell merchandise. The company responded to critiques by stating that the ads had simply been "misunderstood by some."
Using sexuality and erotica to sell products ranging from perfume to jeans is nothing new for the infamously daring Calvin Klein ads. For over fifteen years, the ads have objectified women and treated them as mere sexual creatures. Why is it, then, that in all of that time, we have not seen the backlash against the ads we have witnessed until recently? The backlash against the ads came, not just when they were thoroughly sexist and overtly erotic, but when, on top of that, the ads included what appeared to be children. Unfortunately, this sends the message that its perfectly acceptable in American society to use sex and sexism to sell merchandise at the expense of women, but you cross the line only if you chose to involve kids. This particular campaign, which has effectively done its job given the amount of hype it has created, represents only one of many demeaning ploys used by advertisers to sell products. Would Klein, Inc. have removed the ads so quickly if attacked by feminists for beng sexist as now when attacked by conservatives for being akin to child porn?
8/29/1995 - Packwood Shifts Course, Wants Hearings in Public
Senator Bob Packwood (R-Ore.) announced on Friday that he now does want the Senate ethics committee to conduct public hearings on charges against him of sexual misconduct. Packwood had earlier requested, and the Senate voted 52-48 to allow, closed hearings -- since then, however, two new allegations of sexual misconduct have surfaced. There is speculation that Packwood's sudden announcement seeking public hearings was aimed at forestalling another Senate vote, one that might reverse the earlier decision. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Cal.), who led the campaign for public hearings, said in an interview that Packwood might also use the hearings to badger his accusers, out of a belief that "The only way he can get a light sentence is to impugn the witnesses." Boxer added, "Senator Packwood’s request...may seem surprising on the surface, but this was really his only choice given the rising tide of public opinion."
8/29/1995 - Female Legislators on the Decline
Even as democracy grows in Eastern European and African nations, the overall number of women in parliaments is declining. The Inter-Parliamentary Union reported Sunday that of 105 parliaments women made up only 11.3 percent of legislators. This represents a drop from 1988 when women made up 14.8 percent of legislators. The higher percentages of women legislators occurs mainly in the Scandinavian countries, where they make up 40.4 percent in Sweden, 39.4 percent in Norway, and 33.5 percent in Finland. The United States, which has one of the lowest percentages of female legislators among Scandinavian and Western European countries, ranks 43rd out of the 105 countries with eight female Senators and forty-eight Representatives, or roughly ten percent representation in Congress.
The board of directors of Chase Manhattan Bank and Chemical Banking announced today that they have voted on a $10 billion stock swap to merge the two banks in an effort to save $1.5 billion annually. The banks said that the new bank, which will maintain the Chase name, expects double-digit per-share earnings and a return of equity of at least 18 percent. This merger, still pending shareholder and regulatory approval, will make Chase the largest bank in the United States, unseating Citicorp.
The merger, however, will result in the loss of approximately 12,000 jobs. Women, who comprise two-thirds of the banking workforce, stand to suffer a diproportionate share of these layoffs. Although heralded as creating the number one bank, this merger actually represents a setback for women who are in or entering the workforce. This setback, coming at a time when some claim that women no longer need affirmative action, is a system of the difficult times women face in the workforce. Downsizing in the white-collar professional, clerical, and communications workforces threatens women’s jobs in the latter half of the 1990’s, much as blue-collar jobs losses in the 1970’s and 1980’s threatened men's jobs.
8/28/1995 - Thousands of Women Arrive Safely in Beijing
Delegates and activists arrived in Beijing Monday ready to begin the United Nation's Fourth World Conference on Women. Approximately 24,000 activists are expected to participate in the Non-Governmental Organizations Forum, which begins Wednesday and runs through September the eighth. The conference itself, which runs from September the fourth to the fifteenth, is expected to draw 6,000 delegates. Though last minute changes by the Chinese government of the NGO Forum's site and trouble by many participants with hotel reservations and visas caused early speculation of a chaotic conference, the initial arrival of persons was handled in an organized fashion. Conference organizers prepared the meeting hall and directed participants towards registration tables and buses without long delays or confusion.
The Feminist Majority's own delegation arrived in Beijing safely and travels to the NGO Forum site today. Look at our Fourth World's Conference on Women section for our delegation's up-to-the-minute Forum news, platform information and reports.
1/21/1995 - Rock for Choice Roe v. Wade Anniversary Show
Taking an electric and eclectic stand against anti-abortion violence,Primus, Fishbone, Face to Face, No Doubt, The Geraldine Fibbers,Possum Dixon, Weapon of Choice, and Stone Fox performed during the Feminist Majority's Rock for Choice Roe v. Wade anniversary show at the Hollywood Palladium on January 21st.
San Francisco based Stone Fox started the night with a roar of powerful female voices. Two years ago they helped organize their own satellite Rock for Choice show in the Bay Area. Also from the Bay Area, headliners Primus shared their quirky brand of rock and roll.
Joined on stage by Mavnard Keenan from the Los Angeles arena rock band TOOL, Primus performed an
unforgettable version of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song.
Carla Bozulich from Ethyl Meatplow debuted her new band the Geraldine Fibbers. Now playing her own brand of countrified rock, Carla continues to be an outspoken feminist voice in the music community. Leading the call to action was Angelo Morey from Los Angeles' Fishbone, demanding that kids get involved and make their voices count for women's rights. Face to
Face, an up and coming Orange County based group, announced their plans to put out a single benefiting
Rock for Choice with East Coasters the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
In response to the brutal murders by an anti-abortion extremist in Brookline, MA, concert goers signed large scrolls expressing outrage. A plea for a continuing
investigation of anti-abortion violence addressed to President Clinton and Janet Reno was also circulated. Thousands of young people were encouraged to register to vote, get informed and get active in the fight to defend their reproductive freedom.
The January 21st sold-out concert helped raise critically needed funds for the Feminist Majority's abortion rights work.