This Week in Women: Remembering Feminist Pioneer Kate Millett
While the United States grapples with the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey, braces for Hurricane Irma, and deals with DACA drama, two major news stories from the feminist front grabbed our attention. We will begin with a new setback from Betsy DeVos and finish with a call-to-action from the late, great Kate Millett. It’s time for This Week in Women!
DeVos Begins Process of Rolling Back Title IX Protections on Campus
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects against discrimination and sexual harassment in school systems that are recipients of federal financial assistance—applying to countless public schools and campuses across the US for the past four decades—and now, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos plans to diminish it.
On Thursday, DeVos announced her department was already working to rollback Title IX guidance set in place by the Obama administration that put more responsibility on administrations to follow-up on reports of sexual harassment and violence. DeVos expressed concern that there was inadequate due process for those accused of sexual assault or harassment and that the current guidance is a “disservice to everyone involved.”
DeVos’ comments—an indicator of an impending detriment for protections for women—set off a firestorm of response from women’s advocacy groups, politicians, and concerned citizens.
“Today’s announcement that the Department of Education plans to rewrite key Title IX guidance which works to address and prevent sexual assault in our schools is a step in the wrong direction,” Former V.P. Joe Biden posted on his Facebook page. “The truth is, although people don’t want to talk about the brutal reality of sexual assault, especially when it occurs in our most cherished institutions, it is our reality, and it must be faced head-on. And any change that weakens Title IX protections will be devastating.”
— Shannon (@shanmmurphy) September 7, 2017
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) September 7, 2017
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— Women's March (@womensmarch) September 7, 2017
Saying Goodbye & Thank You to Kate Millett
Author, educator, artist, and National Women’s Hall of Fame honoree, Dr. Kate Millett, passed away at age 82 at her home in Paris on Wednesday. She taught at University of North Carolina Greensboro and New York University, quickly rising to influence in 1970 during the second wave of feminism with the release of her book, Sexual Politics. The book went on to sell over 80,000 copies and explored “sexual dominion,” gender roles, and the “fundamental concept of power.”
Millett’s contributions to women’s rights and the tearing down of the patriarchal systems are as relevant and timely as ever in current conversation. “It is interesting,” wrote Millett in Sexual Politics, “that many women do not recognize themselves as discriminated against; no better proof could be found of the totality of their conditioning.”
Following the news of Millet’s passing, Gloria Steinem shared on Instagram, “This morning in Paris, Kate Millett died of cardiac arrest. Her ashes will come home, but for now, remember that, as Andrea Dworkin said, ‘The world was asleep but Kate Millett woke it up.’ Sexual Politics—and all Kate’s work—will keep us Woke.”
“The happiness of those times, the joy of participation, the excitement of being part of my own time, of living on the edge, of being so close to events you can almost intuit them. To raise one’s voice in protest, just as the protest is expressed in life, in the streets, in relationships and friendships,” she said in her 2013 National Women’s Hall of Fame acceptance speech. “Then, in a moment of public recognition, the face of the individual becomes a woman’s face.”
Featured image via The New York Times
Stay tuned to Milk for more of This Week in Women and check out our previous installments here.