Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Will Bush Face Down the Velcro Heads? Nah. Won't Happen.

[gary daily col. 31 August 25, 2002]

Men their rights and nothing more; women their rights and nothing less.”
-Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, The Revolution (1868)

Tomorrow is “Women’s Equality Day, 2002."

This day of recognition marks women’s enfranchisement. With the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution in 1920, the long struggle for women’s rights in this country took a giant step. There is plenty to read in conjunction with this significant moment in the history of representative democracy, but what I’m really hyped about is hearing President Bush’s official proclamation on this auspicious day.

In his 2001 address on this event, Bush had this to say:

“In 1840, Elizabeth Cady Stanton met Lucretia Mott at the World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London. They, along with the other women there, expected to join in the anti-slavery proceedings, but male delegates refused to allow them to participate. Thus rebuffed, Mott and Stanton began a journey that would lead to the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention. There, the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments called for women's equality, including the right to vote and to take part in our Nation's great moral debates.”

The president went on from there: “Tremendous advancements have been made in the fight for equality. But we must remain diligent in enforcing our Nation's laws. And we still have work to do in this area.”

Until I read this speech, I had no idea Bush was such a student of women’s history and such a watchdog and advocate of women’s rights. I guess those campaign ads of solitary, square-jawed Bush striding through west Texas, kicking up dust, and some highly questionable appointments and challenges to Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 gave me the wrong impression of the man.

Well, thanks be to Ma Barbara, or to the well read Ms. Laura Bush, or simply to intelligence trumping ignorance, here’s “W” singing the glories of the free-thinking Stanton and the peace loving Mott. But above all, here’s our Skull and Bones Yalie and Harvard MBA, moving toward a full-blown endorsement of that famous radical feminist manifesto of 1848, the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments. I hold my breath waiting to hear what the president will have to say this year. It makes you wonder just how long “W” has been a cross dresser on women’s rights, a closet feminist!


I can personally report on strong reactions to this word even after Bush's Presidential proclamation last year. In bar rooms and classrooms, during town and gown functions, or while striking up an innocent conversation while standing in a supermarket line, the mention of feminism turns some perfectly good brains into a hollow organ lined with velcro. I call them Velcro Heads. Their thinking on advocacy for women consists of grabbing anything and everything in the news conceived of as being threatening, other, not us, dangerous, irreligious, different--and let’s not leave out those old standbys-- “extreme” and “radical” and attach it to the f-word.

And this is why I am in awe at “W’s” wandering so close to the edge of enlightenment during last year’s Women’s Equality Day. Will this be the year he fully embraces feminism?


Can you remember how this term helped to create that cover boy of a few years back, the Angry White Male? Men were taking to the woods in packs. They were smearing themselves with mud, 30 weight motor oil, bean dip or anything they could get to stick to their sweaty bodies that might keep the testosterone from leaking out. Through long nights forests throbbed with the sound of beating drums. All of this in a frantic effort to ward off the insidious power of mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, and other assorted female types who were bent on weakening Manhood. Action of this intensity had not been seen since the skies of Old Salem Village were darkened by soaring feminists.


There’s a demographic out there that has trouble distinguishing demonology from democracy. For them, grudgingly, votes for women has become acceptable. They feel the pace leading to that radical change was just about right-a 72 year struggle to win the vote followed by an 82 year trial period. But now Velcro Heads are asking: Who could have possibly stamped an “OK” on Bush’s August 26, 2001 speech? They feel it’s one thing to sniff tolerantly at the agents of radical change, but let’s not encourage “them.” So tomorrow is Women’s Equality Day. And Velcro Heads will be reading President George W. Bush’s official 2002 Proclamation with as much interest as feminists.


In the meantime, and anytime, I recommend reading the primary source cited in President Bush’s 2001 shocker, the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments. It famously begins with a paraphrase of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal,” goes on to state details of man’s tyranny over woman, “submit [s these facts] to a candid world,” and concludes with a dozen resolutions that feminists have been striving to achieve in letter and in spirit since 1848.

I would like to see President Bush further bolster his sub rosa credentials as a feminist. He should read those famous twelve resolutions into his Women’s Equality Day, 2002 proclamation. He might also try saying out loud in public the word that ties so many minds into empty emotional knots--feminism.


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