Many times I'ive tried to do this again-- adapt the little 1977 booklet from my days in Baltimore's NOW (National Organization for Women) to lives of older women.
Several tries--Gray Panthers, The Transition Network-- had not sparked enthusiasm. Then I saw a notice in the New York City NOW newsletter earlier this year about a group starting with a focus on "senior women."
At the first meeting we talked about why we were there--support mostly. A couple of us were interested in action/advocacy projects. Not one to miss an opportunity, I'd brought along the 1977 booklet, suggested we update it. We have done that. Questions Women Over 55 Should Ask Their Doctors is a one-page flyer and was featured in the Spring 2008 issue of "WhatNOW," the chapter's hard copy quarterly publication.
The most challenging part? Locating photos of older women doctors/healthcare providers (not blonde) to use in the flyer.
We briefly addressed three areas:
-- Preparing for a visit to the doctor;
--Questions to ask during the visit;
Finally, we invite women to join our renamed "Boomer and Senior Women's Network," which has a place on the chapter website. Each of us took copies of the new flyer to distribute--laundry rooms in our buildings, senior centers. At the meeting this week, a 79 year old actress who described herself as a radical feminist was among four new members.
Who are we? Besides the actress and myself, there may be one or two others who'd use the f-word to self-describe. In many ways we are as varied as women in 1966 when NOW, this very chapter, was founded. "This is my first time at anything like this," was a comment that surprised me. Only the actress and I have longtime histories with NOW. Among the twelve of us we're different colors, transplants to the U.S., former teachers-- of course. "We need to do consciousness-raising around aging," was a suggestion you would not have heard in the sixities!
*This post is dedicated to Katha Pollitt who this week in The Nation magazine ended her column, with a plea, "Feminism, please call home!" So glad that I'd had this woman-affirming experience before I read "Backlash Spectacular" on the source of her distress.
Washington University (St. Louis) is about to give Phyllis Schlafly, the anti-feminist, an honorary degree. Good grief, that awful conservative. Only other place I've seen about it is WomensEnews as one of their Jeers of the week. WashU was a politically regressive institution in the 1940s and 50s when I lived there; old habits die hard. Cheers to graduating students and faculty who plan to protest.