February 21, 1997 · Cavalier Daily

NOW Acts Fairly

This letter to the editor responds to a previous opinion article by Peter Brownfeld entitled "Selective Feminism," where Brownfeld criticized the National Organization for Women for staying silent regarding Paula Jones' allegations that President Clinton sexually harassed her. The author of the letter counters that NOW is acting in a fair and nonpartisan manner in this case, since Clinton and Jones have yet to testify under oath, and NOW is respecting Jones' right to select her advocates herself.


1997-02-21 Cavalier Daily NOW Acts Fairly.pdf
Jessie Gilliam, Secretary of the UVA chapter of NOW
Cavalier Daily
Cavalier Daily
NOW Acts Fairly
Peter Brownfield’s Feb. 17 column ("Selective feminism.") criticized the National Organization for Women (NOW) for remaining silent on Paula Jones' issues of sexual harassment, claiming that NOW is not taking a stand on the issue because "she is attacking Clinton, a man who they have supported throughout his political career" He cites a lack of evidence from the NOW website (http://www.now.org/) about the Jones trial as proof of the selective feminism he claims surrounds the Jones case.
I went to the same NOW website, typed "Paula Jones" into the search engine, and found a statement by the President of NOW, Patricia Ireland, addressing NOW’s position on the issue.
Ireland makes two points in her Jan. 10 press statement, Firstly, since Jones has a day in court and will be heard, "NOW will not rally public support for her until NOW leaders have the kind of information they have had in similar cases.” NOW maintains the same position in the Hill-Thomas hearings, for “we…didn't put on our “I believe Anita Hill” buttons until we had seen and heard both Hill and Clarence Thomas testify under oath."
Secondly, NOW offered its support to Paula Jones, and Jones declined. “lreland agreed to a conference call with Paula Jones, and even offered to fly out to California at NOW’s expense to meet with her, but she seemed to dismiss Ireland's availability rather disdainfully," says the NOW press release.
As for attacking Clinton, NOW is a nonpartisan organization that supports and advocates women's rights, no matter who may violate them. For example, Ireland states that "we protested at the White House when President Clinton said he would sign the welfare repeal bill, warning that many of our activists not work on his re-election if he did.” NOW also is a strong supporter of same-sex marriage, criticizing Clinton when he has been less than solid in his support of same-sex marriages. NOW has not been hesitant to express its displeasure with some of Clinton's actions.
NOW respects a woman's right to choose: to choose who to marry; to choose to have a child; to be able to go to work without being sexually harassed. And, in Jones’ situation, to choose whether Jones wants the support of NOW. Ireland perhaps says it best when she states that “we wouldn’t force ourselves on an unwilling plaintiff any more than any man should force himself on a woman." NOW is respecting Jones' right to choose her advocates. All this is clearly stated at the National NOW Web site. It seems Brownfield demonstrated selective reading and researching rather than selective feminism in his Feb. 17 article.
Jessie Gilliam
U.Va. NOW Secretary
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Date Added June 20, 2016
Date Modifed December 24, 2017
Collection Cavalier Daily: articles about gender discrimination

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