About a year ago, I notified the National Organization for Women (NOW) that I had written a blog post about the arrogance of feminist leaders. The response I received is below. It is the only response I have received from NOW leaders since I first started writing to them in 2010.
RE: comments concerning New feminist leader blog post 1/8/14
From: “NOW” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thank you for your email. NOW is the largest feminist organization in the US, with more than 500,000 contributing members from different gender, sex, age, race, sexual orientation, religious, socioeconomic, and political groups. NOW has more than 500 local and campus affiliates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. These affiliates include chapters and Campus Action Networks.
We are a grassroots organization because our members, who meet yearly in regional and national conferences, are the supreme governing body of NOW. NOW draws its broad grassroots strength from a nationwide network of local chapters, which are chartered by national NOW and which engage in a wide variety of action programs in their communities. State organizations serve to develop chapters, coordinate statewide activities and provide resources to the chapters. There are nine regions which, in Conference, elect members to the National Board of Directors, the body which governs the organization between national conferences. The national level of the organization is led by three elected national officers, by the national Board of Directors, and by national issues committees. These national leaders are responsible for implementing policy as formulated by the annual National Conference, for coordinating national actions, and for providing membership services.
As you can see, we are very much a bottom-up organization.
Note that the email writer remained anonymous.
September 21, 2015 Update
NOW’s website has changed its membership claim to “hundreds of thousands of contributing members”. Note that NOW is providing less information about its contributing membership total than it did before.
NOW’s Claims of Being a “Bottom-up Organization”
Let’s start with a definition of governing body:
“Governing body means a body of persons or officers
having ultimate control.”
Now let’s test the anonymous NOW writer’s claim that NOW is “very much a bottom-up organization.”
In the paragraph explaining what makes NOW a “grassroots organization”, the anonymous NOW writer mentions “our members” once. It is the only mention of “our members” in the entire email.
Next, let’s count how many times the anonymous NOW writer mentions different levels in NOW’s hierarchy and what the different levels do.
1. National NOW charters chapters.
2. State organizations develop chapters, coordinate statewide activities, and provide resources to chapters.
3. Nine regions elect members to the National Board of Directors in Conference.
4. The National Board of Directors governs the organization between national conferences.
5. Three elected national officers, the national Board of Directors, and national issues committees lead the national level of the organization.
6. National leaders implement policy formulated by the annual National Conference, coordinate national actions, and provide membership services.
Are NOW members equal to NOW’s levels of hierarchy? Hardly. I illustrate the imbalance below.
National Board of Directors
Do you see any evidence that “our members” have ultimate control of anything?
NOW Membership Numbers
As for the claims of “more than 500 local and campus affiliates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia” as well as the “more than 500,000 contributing members”, you can read my findings, then do some research of your own. As of this writing, at least 5 states still have “No chapters found.”
Since I have proven that NOW continually claims the existence of chapters that do not exist, I can only assume that the claim of “more than 500,000 contributing members” is inflated as well.
NOW Members Formulating Policy
How many members do you suppose have the time, money, and opportunity to travel to the National Conference each year to act as the supreme governing body of the National Organization for Women? More than 500,000? 100,000? 2,000? Several hundred?
Let’s be generous and say 2,000 members have the time, money, and opportunity to travel to each National Conference to be members of the grassroots supreme governing body. That’s less than 1 percent of the claimed 500,000 contributing members. Do NOW leaders know the meaning of the word “grassroots”?
Questions for NOW
The email from NOW raises more questions than it answers. If “our members” are the supreme governing body of NOW, then I should be able to ask the supreme governing body my questions. But even if I were a member, NOW does not give “our members” any way to contact each other. I’ll have to settle for someone else. Therefore, I challenge NOW President Terry O’Neill to answer these questions:
How do I contact NOW’s supreme governing body?
Where is the financial report showing the supreme governing body how you spend every penny of membership fees and donations?
Why don’t you explain to the supreme governing body how you choose members of the “dedicated network of grassroots activists”?
Why do you deny training and socializing to members of the supreme governing body?
Why does now.org have a password protected “NOW Leaders Page” that says “Protected: NOW Leader Docs”?
(NOW has removed the NOW Leaders page. This only means they are no longer announcing that NOW leaders
keep secrets. NOW leaders still keep secrets. They keep their “activist” training secret from the women who pay
for the training.)
What are you protecting and why do you need to protect it from the supreme governing body?
Why are you keeping secrets from the supreme governing body?
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Do you think NOW President Terry O’Neill will answer my questions? Of course not. O’Neill cannot justify calling NOW members the “supreme governing body” while keeping secrets with her “Protected: NOW Leader Docs”.
NOW President Terry O’Neill keeps secrets because she is a glory addict. O’Neill and other feminist leaders need glory fixes so they can feel important and meaningful. Pretending to work for gender equality is their cover. Unfortunately, their cover creates inequality between women and makes equality between genders unlikely. Why would men in power want to give equal power to women who say one thing but do another?
Actions speak louder than words, even for feminist leaders.
See more evidence that NOW leaders have continuing glory addictions:
Paula M. Kramer
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Posts on this blog alternate with posts at the link below. Posts for both blogs are published on Wednesdays as they are ready to be published. Time between posts could be weeks or months.
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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 ta 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!
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:
NOW leaders silenced at least three women on Facebook while posting claims to be creating equality for women. Secondary importance is the opposite of equality, as women throughout the ages could testify.
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.
Updated April 30, 2017.