This is an email I sent to Rachel Maddow, Reverend Al Sharpton, MoveOn.org, and OurSilverRibbon.org. NOW President Terry O’Neill appeared on Maddow’s and Sharpton’s shows in the fall of 2011. The National Organization For Women participated with MoveOn.org in the Silver Ribbon Campaign in January 2012. The subject line for my email was “Maybe you can get an answer.”
Are you aware that the National Organization for Women creates inequality between women? Equality means equal access and equal opportunity.
Read What The New Feminists Look Like” in the November 2010 issue of More Magazine. Once upon a time, Jessica Valenti worked for the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund. Valenti told More that,
“Whenever there was a photo opportunity, all the young women and women
of color would be ushered to the front. But when it came to inviting us to
important meetings, that just wasn’t happening. When push came to shove,
no one really cared what our opinions were.”
Valenti left NOW and started feministing.com, a blog with readers and contributors from around the world. Feministing apparently has more readers than Ms. Magazine had in its heyday. The National Organization For Women does not even have chapters in every state.
NOW trains only state and national leaders to work on feminist causes. They claim to have “a dedicated network of grassroots activists” that takes action around the country. If NOW trains only state and national leaders, who are the “grassroots activists” in its dedicated network? Not the ordinary women who by definition are the grassroots of a cause. Instead of grassroots action, NOW takes grasstops action. NOW denies ordinary women equal access to training and equal opportunity to take action.
NOW President Terry O’Neill sends frequent emails asking “contributors” for money. (NOW Presidents like to always to be referred to by their title.) NOW President Terry O’Neill never explains how she uses the contributions. It seems to me that NOW uses the money so state and national leaders can travel around the country and socialize with each other while taking the training that is denied to the people who make the training possible.
For the 2012 presidential election, the conservative group Smart Girl Politics had online activist training that any member take. Minnesota Citizens Concerned For Life organizes a fall tour around the state offering training that any member can take. SGP and MCCL provide equal access to training and equal opportunity to take action.
During the 2012 election, SGP regularly sent out surveys to ask members their opinions. I have never seen a survey from NOW, and I signed up for emails years ago. The opinions of ordinary women, young feminists, and feminists of color are unimportant and meaningless to NOW leaders. Ordinary women like me have neither equal access nor equal opportunity to express our opinions.
The women behind Feministing give ordinary women equal access and equal opportunities. Ordinary women can submit posts to Feministing’s Community site. Some of the Community posts later appear on the front page of the Feministing site.
I began pushing NOW to create equality between women with a letter I wrote in January 2010. My pushing seems to have had some effect. Since my letter, the phrase “NOW President Terry O’Neill” did not appear on NOW’s old home page quite as often. (I once counted “NOW President Kim Gandy” eight times on NOW’s old home page.) In her frequent emails asking for money, NOW President Terry O’Neill has begun to acknowledge that the ordinary women donating money are part of any success NOW creates.
I’ve also left phone comments about emails from NOW Action Center. The “action” is forwarding “Your letter” to a politician, an email written by NOW. “Your letter” used to include one of these phrases:
“As a supporter of the National Organization for Women”
“As an active supporter of NOW”
“I am writing to you as member of the National Organization for Women”
Those phrases were often at the beginning of “Your letter” so that NOW got its organizational advertising in right away. After forwarding “Your letter”, contributors were also invited to send even more money.
After I left a message on their comment line expressing displeasure about those self-serving phrases, the inclusion of those phrases mostly ended. I hope other women complained about NOW’s blatant attempts for attention. Since self-promotion is most important to NOW President Terry O’Neill, she has never encouraged contributors to write their own letters with details from their own lives.
I plan to keep writing blog posts about feminist leaders because I want equality and feminist leaders are creating inequality.
If you want equality, ask NOW leaders why they deny most women equal access to training and equal opportunity to take action. I can think of only four reasons.
SGP leaders and MCCL leaders are smarter than NOW leaders. (They train thousands more people to take action than NOW leaders train, so they are in a better position to influence outcomes.)
NOW leaders think most women are too stupid to train.
NOW leaders think most women are incapable of taking action.
NOW leaders are glory addicts who want to keep all the glory of taking action for themselves.
You could also ask NOW leaders why they deny most women equal access and equal opportunity to express their opinions. The reasons would be similar to those above.
Rachel Maddow and Al Sharpton should interview Jessica Valenti. Valenti has left Feministing, but the other feminists running it should know how to contact her or would probably be great interview subjects themselves. The interviews would also provide insights into what feminists from around the world are thinking and doing.
I am not trying to get on television myself. I have endured enough thoughtless and insensitive comments, questions, and advice concerning the tragedies I survived to last the rest of my life. If I appeared on television, even more people would feel they had a responsibility to bombard me with thoughtless and insensitive comments, questions, and advice. I am writing books that I will publish myself so that I can do only radio interviews to promote them.
I sent an email to about 45 state NOW chapters. Only one state president responded, and she decided I was off-putting. Since people in your organizations are on speaking terms with NOW President Terry O’Neill, perhaps a few of you could ask those questions about equal access and equal opportunity and get answers. NOW President Terry O’Neill would not answer those questions if I asked them.
Please consider asking NOW those questions so all women can enjoy equal access and equal opportunity.
Update February 2012
On February 16, 2012, NOW Action Center asked supporters to send “Your Letter” with this first sentence:
“As a supporter of the National Organization for Women, I am concerned
about the growing number of attacks in Congress and elsewhere on birth
control – which is basic health care that should be available to all women
Obviously, NOW only took a break from its organizational advertising. Details of real women’s lives still do not matter to the leaders of the National Organization for Women.
Update September 13, 2015
Nobody responded to my email.
“What the New Feminists Look Like”
More Magazine News & Politics Editors
As an American, I have freedom of speech.
As a woman, I have the right to express my opinion about anything the National Organization for Women claims to do for women.
In 2016, I started adding the section below to all of my new Feminist Leader blog posts. I also added it to all posts published before 2016.
The National Organization For Women
National NOW has blocked me on its Facebook page. I wrote comments based on my blog posts. All of my blog posts are based on a wide variety of evidence. Much of the evidence comes from National NOW’s website, emails and posts from NOW presidents, and emails from NOW staff members. I use no hostile language, no slurs, no profanity. I do use the phrase “glory addicts” in reference to NOW leaders. I also use “glory addiction”, “glory fixes”, and “a dedicated network of glory addicts”. Dr. Marsha Vanderford (Doyle) identified the glory needs of pro-choice leaders in her 1982 dissertation.
Feminist leaders have been silencing women for decades. bell hooks, Gloria Steinem, Urvashi Vaid, and Naomi Wolf got together for a conversation that was published in Ms. Magazine in 1993. The discussion included why women choose not to call themselves feminists. Did these four feminist leaders working for women’s equality ask women who choose not to call themselves feminist to speak for themselves? Of course not! The four feminist leaders silenced millions of women by speaking for them without first requesting permission to speak for them.
Imagine a group of women who choose not to call themselves feminists getting together for a conversation to be published in a magazine about why some women call themselves feminists. Would hooks, Steinem, Vaid, Wolf, or Ms. Magazine agree with nonfeminist women denying them the opportunity to speak for themselves? Of course not! Would hooks, Steinem, Vaid, Wolf, or Ms. Magazine agree that nonfeminist women had the right to speak for feminist women without their permission? Of course not!
hooks, Steinem Vaid, and Wolf could have created equality between women. They could have provided a platform for women who choose not to call themselves feminist to explain their choice in their own words.
My feminist leader blog posts provide evidence that feminist leaders still create glory for themselves while relegating supporters to “secondary importance”. Dr. Vanderford used the words “relegated” and “secondary importance” in her dissertation. Eoin Harnett of University College Cork in Ireland used the same “secondary importance” phrase:
“Throughout the ages, women were frequently characterised
and treated as inferior and of secondary importance to men.”
NOW leaders even relegated two of their supporters to secondary importance. The supporters responded to my last two comments on National NOW’s Facebook page with comments supporting NOW. NOW leaders silenced those supporters by removing their comments along with my comments. Instead of creating equality, NOW leaders treat other women the same way patriarchal men treat women, as inferior and of secondary importance.
In-House Rhetoric of Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Special Interest Groups in Minnesota: Motivation and Alienation
Dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1982
Marsha Vanderford Doyle, Ph.D.
(Now Marsha Vanderford)
Quoted words on page 350.
“Let’s Get Real about Feminism: The Backlash, the Myths, the Movement.”
hooks, bell, Gloria Steinem, Urvashi Vaid, and Naomi Wolf.
Vol 4(2) September/October 1993: pages 34-43.
“Multitext Project in Irish History: Movements for Political & Social Reform, 1870-1914”
University College Cork, Ireland
This project is no longer available online.
Paula M. Kramer
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