Kate Millett speaks at Macalester College about discrimination and commitment to change

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Excerpt of Kate Millett speaking at Macalester College on discrimination against women professionals, and about women academics at Columbia appealing to HEW for fair treatment.


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SPEAKER: But think about it for a moment. How much really has changed? The discrimination against women professionals is still so gross as to require legislation and court action. Women at my own university, Columbia, have had to appeal to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, which can threaten to cut off the university's entire federal funds if it does not become soon an employer, a fair employer of women's scholars. Similar suits are being brought against other colleges and universities all over the country. And I have little doubt that Macalester must have been as guilty as the rest.

The Equal Rights Amendment, which was first drafted by Susan B. Anthony 70 years ago, is still not ratified into law. And let me remind you, let us all remember that while the popular press debates the question of women and work outside the home-- as we all know, women have always worked. They have worked longer hours and for smaller rewards and at less agreeable tasks than have men.

Nixon has not pacified the villages of Vietnam, but someone has pacified the American universities. Where have all the flowers gone on campus? Where are the youth of yesteryear whose protests were the promise of our future? Because you rolled out of bed one or two or even three Saturday mornings, and they didn't end the war that afternoon, even though you missed doing the laundry, is that any reason to sit around drugged or apathetic? Is it? And did you think it would be easy?

I have made it sound rather grim, haven't I? But this is what we are up against. We who are the forces of change. The young, the Black, the gay, the women, and the poor because we too exist. We too are a factor. And because a revolution is going on right now in our midst, whether we know it or not, sometimes quietly, sometimes dramatically, America is being reborn, now from inside.

Indeed, there are now two Americas coexisting in a special schizophrenia. The question remains, which of the two shall prevail? For much has changed, while much has stayed the same. We have changed our hair, our clothes, our means of employment, our beliefs, our opinions, our commitments, our lifestyles. And we could leave it at that and permit Nixon and his work to continue.

We could opt to be interior, introspective, selfish, contented, apathetic, despairing. And we could go on this way until we woke up some time to find that we were living in a hip concentration camp, which, unless we are deeply committed to change when it's popular and when it's unpopular, when it rains the day of the march as well as when it's lovely weather and everyone turns out, when it's work as well as when it's fun or when it's easy.

Unless we are seriously dedicated to change, not as a campus fashion bracketed together with fraternities and football, but as a way of life, unless we are in real earnest, we might very well end up with a mod sort of fascism, or a repeat of the reactionary climate of the 50s, but with sideburns and dungarees.

Because as none of us is safe as long as any dissenter is in danger. None of us is at peace as long as anyone dies in a war. None of us enjoys justice or equality as long as anyone is deprived or despised. If we wish to be free, all of us must become liberationists.


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