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September 4

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber
who is solely responsible for its content.
This version of Women of Achievement has been taken
from the 1998 email distribution of Women of Achievement and Herstory.
The full text of this episode of Women of Achievement and Herstory
will be published here in the future.

Part 5 of Dr. DiFonzo's review of the Michael Grossberg book exploring a Victorian Age custody battle

The Fourth World Conference on Women sponsored by the United Nations

A private comment by Irene Stuber


QUOTE by Marianne Williamson.

      To read this entire article, see: | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 |

Part 5 of Dr. DiFonzo's review of the Michael Grossberg book exploring a Victorian Age custody battle

[Part 5 of 5 parts of Dr. DiFonzo's review of the Michael Grossberg book exploring a Victorian Age custody battle when common law doctrine granted full sway to a father's decisions regarding child custody and family residence.]

"A Judgment for Solomon adds a needed case study to the debate among legal historians about the changing contours of the public and private spheres in the development of family, the modern as well as to the related policy question whether the shift of the conjugal bond from status to contract can or should be reversed or at least significantly modified. Lee E. Teitelbaum argued a decade ago that very little of the "private" Victorian family was truly private. Courts and legislatures gradually eased out the private sphere in establishing hegemony over issues of child-rearing, education, marriage regulation, child custody, and spousal support. [10] Later, in a review of Governing the Hearth, Teitelbaum suggested that even Grossberg had not fully acknowledged the transference of functions from the household to the state regulator in the course of the nineteenth century. [11]
      By contrast, Jana B. Singer stressed the larger trend transforming family law from public to private ordering. [12] That debate has of late been subsumed into a discussion of whether Henry Maine's dictum about the relentless creep from status to contract applies immutably to domestic relations. [13]

"Grossberg sidesteps the polemics pitting the rights-talkers against the communitarians, which have flared up in this context in current proposals to end or severely limit no-fault divorce, and a marriage of "commitment" and a marriage of "compatibility," to instead, legislate two types of relationships. [14] He demonstrates the power of storytelling at junctures when the law is in flux (p. 104).
      "Grossberg's talent at narrative discourse allows him to show that the relationship between law and social change is not susceptible to easy cause-and-effect analysis. Culture obeys only the law of unintended consequences, and we learn our lessons by approaching issues of social engineering with a healthy and historically informed measure of skepticism about our own abilities.

"As readers of this review may have guessed, Ellen d'Hauteville won her custody battle.
      "But the judges awarded only temporary custody. Because the litigation had exposed every private corner of her family to public view, her limited victory ensured that the family would be subject to
"continuous judicial surveillance" (p. 165).
      "In many ways, Ellen d'Hauteville's world has entirely passed from the scene. But she and we share a keen sense of life in a culture facing "continuous judicial surveillance."
      "In a society deeply divided over gender roles and the permissible reach of the government into domestic relations, we should be wary of those too quick to grasp the mantle of King Solomon."

Copyright (c) 1996 by H-Net, all rights reserved. This work may be copied for non-profit educational use if proper credit is given to the author and the list. Used with permission. The footnotes are not included in the permission given to WOA by Dr. DiFonzo.

To read this entire article, see: | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 |

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The Fourth World Conference on Women sponsored by the United Nations

EVENT 09-04-1995: The eyes of women and girls with dreams were fastened on Beijing, China, as the fourth world conference on women sponsored by the United Nations began.
      Unfortunately the news reaching most women was sparse on empowerment as news reports centered on the mud and the controversial decisions of Chinese officials that became harassment of the delegates.
      Even when Hillary Rodham Clinton the wife of a U.S. president gave a rousing speech about the rights of all women, the American media presented color, i.e., describing what clothes she wore instead of the substance of the speech. Such methods are time-honored and effective ways of ignoring the worldwide movement to improve the conditions of all women.
      But as the tents were struck and the attendees dispersed throughout the world, the message of hope and determination moved with them. Cut off from the main sources of mass communication such as TV and newspapers, women utilized their traditional and effective methods: word of mouth. This time it has been helped by the communication revolution of the internet - and by women who are publishing small woman-based books and magazines. These women communications experts traded in the big bucks of mainstream publishing to carry on women's dream of equality and human rights through small presses and internet websites such as Undelete: Women's Internet Information Network.

Here are some excerpts from some of the positions adopted in Beijing... issues that are being addressed every day, today(!), in the United Nations through the Division for the Advancement of Women. Even though our nation's media ignores it, it is happening! The next international conference will be held in 2005 - save your pennies to get there. The new millennia shall belong to women!
      The position paper reads (in part):

"We, the Governments participating in the Fourth World Conference on Women... determined to advance the goals of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere in the interest of all humanity...
      "recognize that the status of women has advanced in some important respects in the past decade but that progress has been uneven, inequalities between women and men have persisted and major obstacles remain, with serious consequences for the well-being of all people...
      "also recognize that this situation is exacerbated by the increasing poverty that is affecting the lives of the majority of the world's people, in particular women and children, with origins in both the national and international domains;

"We reaffirm our commitment [to] the equal rights and inherent human dignity of women and men...
      "in particular the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child...
      "Ensure the full implementation of the human rights of women and of the girl child as an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of all human rights and fundamental freedom...

"The empowerment and advancement of women, including the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief, thus contributing to the moral, ethical, spiritual and intellectual needs of women and men, individually or in community with others and thereby guaranteeing them the possibility of realizing their full potential in society and shaping their lives in accordance with their own aspirations.

"We are convinced that:
      "Women's empowerment and their full participation on the basis of equality in all spheres of society, including participation in the decision-making process and access to power, are fundamental for the achievement of equality, development and peace;
      "Women's rights are human rights;
      "Equal rights, opportunities and access to resources, equal sharing of responsibilities for the family by men and women;
      "The explicit recognition and reaffirmation of the right of all women to control all aspects of their health, in particular their own fertility, is basic to their empowerment;

"Local, national, regional and global peace is attainable and is inextricably linked with the advancement of women, who are a fundamental force for leadership, conflict resolution and the promotion of lasting peace at all levels;

"We are determined to:
      "Ensure the full enjoyment by women and the girl child of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and take effective action against violations of these rights and freedoms;
      "Take all necessary measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and the girl child and remove all obstacles to gender equality and the advancement and empowerment of women; Encourage men to participate fully in all actions toward equality;
      "Promote women's economic independence, including employment, and eradicate the persistent and increasing burden of poverty on women by addressing the structural causes of poverty through changes in economic structures, ensuring equal access for all women, including those in rural areas, as vital development agents, to productive resources, opportunities and public services;
      "Promote people-centred sustainable development, including sustained economic growth, through the provision of basic education, lifelong education, literacy and training, and primary health care for girls and women;
      "Take positive steps to ensure peace for the advancement of women and, recognizing the leading role that women have played in the peace movement, work actively toward general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control, and support negotiations on the conclusion, without delay, of a universal and multilaterally and effectively verifiable comprehensive nuclear-test-ban treaty which contributes to nuclear disarmament and the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons in all its aspects;
      "Prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls;
      "Ensure equal access to and equal treatment of women and men in education and health care... reproductive health as well as education;
      "Promote and protect all human rights of women and girls; Intensify efforts to ensure equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all women and girls who face multiple barriers to their empowerment and advancement because of such factors as their race, age, language, ethnicity, culture, religion, or disability, or because they are indigenous people;
      "Develop the fullest potential of girls and women of all ages, ensure their full and equal participation in building a better world for all and enhance their role in the development process.

"We are determined to:
      "Ensure women's equal access to economic resources, including land, credit, science and technology, vocational training, information, communication and markets, as a means to further the advancement and empowerment of women and girls, including through the enhancement of their capacities to enjoy the benefits of equal access to these resources, among others, by means of international cooperation;
      "The participation and leadership of the half of humanity that is female is essential... and a radical transformation of the relationship between women and men to one of full and equal partnership will enable the world to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.

"One fourth of all households' worlds wide are headed by women and many other households are dependent on female income even where men are present. Female-maintained households are very often among the poorest because of wage discrimination, occupational segregation patterns in the labour market and other gender-based barriers.
      "Family disintegration, population movements between urban and rural areas within countries, international migration, war and internal displacements are factors contributing to the rise of female-headed households.

"Religion, spirituality and belief play a central role in the lives of millions of women and men...
      "The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is inalienable and must be universally enjoyed. This right includes the freedom to have or to adopt the religion or belief of their choice either individually or in community with others, in public or in private, and to manifest their religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching... it is acknowledged that any form of extremism may have a negative impact on women and can lead to violence and discrimination.

"...Equality between women and men has still not been achieved. On average, women represent a mere 10 per cent of all elected legislators world wide...

"Women play a critical role in the family...
      "The social significance of maternity, motherhood and the role of parents in the family and in the upbringing of children should be acknowledged. The upbringing of children requires shared responsibility of parents, women and men and society as a whole. Maternity, motherhood, parenting and the role of women in procreation must not be a basis for discrimination nor restrict the full participation of women in society. Recognition should also be given to the important role often played by women in many countries in caring for other members of their family.

"While the rate of growth of world population is on the decline, world population is at an all-time high in absolute numbers... In many developing countries, 45 to 50 per cent of the population is less than 15 years old, while in industrialized nations both the number and proportion of elderly people are increasing. According to United Nations projections, 72 per cent of the population over 60 years of age will be living in developing countries by the year 2025, and more than half of that population will be women.
      Care of children, the sick and the elderly is a responsibility that falls disproportionately on women, owing to lack of equality and the unbalanced distribution of remunerated and unremunerated work between women and men.

"In the past 20 years, the world has seen an explosion in the field of communications...
      "Until women participate equally in both the technical and decision-making areas of communications and the mass media, including the arts, they will continue to be misrepresented and awareness of the reality of women's lives will continue to be lacking.

"The girl child of today is the woman of tomorrow.
      "The skills, ideas and energy of the girl child are vital for full attainment of the goals of equality, development and peace.
      "For the girl child to develop her full potential she needs to be nurtured in an enabling environment, where her spiritual, intellectual and material needs for survival, protection and development are met and her equal rights safeguarded...
      "Yet there exists worldwide evidence that discrimination and violence against girls begin at the earliest stages of life and continue unabated throughout their lives. They often have less access to nutrition, physical and mental health care and education and enjoy fewer rights, opportunities and benefits of childhood and adolescence than do boys. They are often subjected to various forms of sexual and economic exploitation, paedophilia, forced prostitution and possibly the sale of their organs and tissues, violence and harmful practices such as female infanticide and prenatal sex selection, incest, female genital mutilation and early marriage, including child marriage.

"Empowerment of women and equality between women and men are prerequisites for achieving political, social, economic, cultural and environmental security among all peoples.

"To this end, Governments, the international community and civil society, including the non governmental organizations and the private sector, are called upon to take strategic action in the following critical areas of concern:
      "The persistent and increasing burden of poverty on women
      "Inequalities and inadequacies in and unequal access to education and training
      "Inequalities and inadequacies in and unequal access to health care and related services
      "Violence against women
      "The effects of armed or other kinds of conflict on women, including those living under foreign occupation
      "Inequality in economic structures and policies, in all forms of productive activities and in access to resources
      "Inequality between men and women in the sharing of power and decision-making at all levels
      "Insufficient mechanisms at all levels to promote the advancement of women
      "Lack of respect for and inadequate promotion and protection of the human rights of women
      "Stereotyping of women and inequality in women's access to and participation in all communication systems, especially in the media
      "Gender inequalities in the management of natural resources and in the safeguarding of the environment
      "Persistent discrimination against and violation of the rights of the girl child."

(The grandmother of information about the conference and other UN initiatives for women is to be found at the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women, a site to make your heart warm and full of confidence for the future.)

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A private comment by Irene Stuber

The ultra-conservative, religious right-wing forces of many nations are unalterably opposed to the United Nations. The UN stand on the women's rights, including their reproductive rights, are an anathema to them. The takeover of many nations such as Iran and Afghanistan by religious extremists has resulted first and foremost in the virtual enslavement of women and women's complete loss of human rights.
      Also, remember when reviewing the above excerpts a few American facts: more women are raped in the U.S., percentage- wise, than any other nation in the world; more women are raped in the U.S. every year than were raped in Bosnia. Every major money-saving legislation adopted by American government recently impacts the most on women - without exception.
      The U.S. has one of the smallest representations of women in its state and federal legislative bodies in the world.

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B. 09-04-1803, Sarah Childress Polk, shrewd and ambitious, layered with charm and backed by a politically powerful family paved the way for her husband, James, to become president of the U.S. She was his closest advisor and was admired greatly by official Washington society. SCP attended the South's most outstanding school for girls. She is recognized by many as a powerful influence on his official actions.

B. 09-04-1811, Marie-Félicité-Denise Pleyel, Belgium-born French virtuoso who was considered one of the most outstanding pianists of the 19th century. She toured much of Europe while still in her teens. Her only venture into marriage ended in scandal because she reportedly continued to have had many affairs. She became notorious (as were many of the male artists of the day) but because of her talent, the notoriety did not slow her highly successful career.
      She was also professor of piano at the Brussels Conservatory for almost 30 years.

B. 09-04-1824, Phoebe Cary, collaborated with her sister Alice on volumes of poetry. Each had successful, individual writing careers. The younger Phoebe wrote less than her sister, preferring to "keep" house. They were inseparable, living together all their lives.
      Both were staunch women's righters and Phoebe served for a time with the Revolution paper of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The sisters were home and self-taught without any formal education.

B. 09-04-1890, Katherine Garrison Chapin, U.S. poet.

B. 09-04-1890, La Argentina, (Antonia Merc, Luque) who invented the style of Spanish dance that is seen on the stage and in theaters. Argentinean-born, she was of direct Spanish descent. Dancing with the Madrid opera, she turned away from the classical ballet to study native dancing. She was refused staging for her new art and had to go to Paris (including the Moulin Rouge) to perform. She became the greatest Spanish dancer of her day, a solo dancer without compare.

B. 09-04-1894, Oriana Atkinson, American author of the Catskill trilogy.

B. 09-04-1899, Ida Kaminska was a acting star in the U.S., in her native Poland, and finished off her years in Israel. She was recognized as the queen of the Yiddish theater in Poland where she had her own theater. Following World War II, she established and headed the Jewish State Theatre of Poland (1946-68). She resettled in the U.S. and attempted to develop the same type of Jewish Repertory theater, but it failed. She then moved to Israel. IK received an Academy Award nomination for her work in the film The Shop On Main Street (1965).

B. 09-04-1905, Mary Renault (Mary Challans), English novelist who specialized tales with authentic ancient Greek settings. She wrote the trilogy on Alexander the Great and The Bull From the Sea (1962).
      Her books were renowned for their scholarship and she was much admired for her ability to re-create everyday lifestyles in the classical period.
      MR and her lifelong partner Julie Mullard (whom she met in nursing school) lived on a houseboat on the Thames until they moved to South African in 1948. MR became an outspoken critic of apartheid.

B. 09-04-1905, Eleanor Packard, noted war correspondent WWII.

B. 09-04-1924, Joan Delano Aiken, author of fiction and poetry, winner of 1972 Poe Award.

B. 09-04-1930, Mitzi Gaynor, U.S. actor.

B. 09-04-1937, Dawn Fraser, Australian swimmer was the first person to win the same event in the Olympics three times, winning the 1956, 1960, and 1964 freestyle swimming gold medals before being suspended in 1964 from the Olympics for a prank.
      DF had been seriously injured in an automobile accident just months before the 1964 event which made the winning of the third gold even more spectacular.
      She set 27 individual swimming records from 1956 to 1964 and broke the world record in the women's 100 meter freestyle event nine times. All of her records have been replaced by modern training methods that produces faster athletes in all sports. However, in most sports where records are falling spectacularly, there's a growing problem with illegal (and some quasi-legal) drug and steroid use, including at the 1998 Olympics.
      Her autobiography is Below the Surface (1965).

B. 09-04-1944, Jennifer Salt, U.S. actor.

Event 09-04-1948: In poor health, Queen Wilhelmina abdicated the throne pf the Netherlands in favor of her daughter.

B. 09-04-1951, Judith Ivey, marvelous U.S. character actor who won the 1983 Tony award for her work in Steaming and in 1985 for Hurleyburly.

B. 09-04-1952, Jane Ellen Altenhofen, U.S. federal agency administrator who served as auditor, U.S. General Accounting Office Kansas City 1974-76, and inspector general, U.S. International Trade Commission, Washington D.C. 1989-.

Event 09-04-1974: Mary Louise Smith of Iowa is elected chair of the Republican Party, the first woman to hold that post.

Event 09-04-1991: Dr. Frances Conley, 50, pioneer woman neurosurgeon withdrew her resignation for sexual harassment against the Stanford Medical School after the school agreed to hire more women. Stanford also agreed not to promote the male physician who was the primary sexual harasser of Dr. Conley.
      Studies in 1998 show that sexual harassment of women in the medical field continues to be endemic.

Event 09-04-1995: Women from 185 countries met in Beijing, China, for the fourth world conference on women sponsored by the United Nations. It ran through September 15.

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      "This is a book about a woman's inner life. Here, we are our real selves, while in the outer world we are impostors. We're not sure why we're posing, except we have no clue how not to. We have forgotten the part we came here to play. We have lost the key to our own house. We're hanging out outside the door. The stress of being away so long from home is hurting us, even killing us. We must not stay away; we must find the key. For until we do, we will continue to shrivel - our faces, our breasts, our ovaries, our stories. We are drooping down and falling apart. If we knew how to moan, they would hear us on the moon.
      "But the dirt around us is moving, making room for tiny sprouts. Like every woman, I know what I know. Something is starting to happen. New things lie in store for the earth, and one of them is us. Womanhood is being recast, and we're pregnant, en masse, giving birth to our own redemption."
            -- Marianne Williamson, A Woman's Worth, New York: Random House, 1993.

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