Madeleine Kunin on the New Feminist Agenda

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Madeleine Kunin, who was the first woman governor of Vermont and served as the Deputy Secretary of Education and Ambassador to Switzerland under President Bill Clinton, looks back over five decades of feminist advocacy—where progress has been successful and where it has stalled, and at the successes of other countries. In The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family, she advocates for the next feminist revolution­­­ to call for workplace policies that improve the lives of women and families.


Madeleine Kunin

Comments [20]

Gail Shine from NYC

The Sororal Commune is the secret social structure throughout all mamalian life and human evolution. It guarantees a village to raise children and is entirely self sustaining with all property passing through the matriline. Brothers are honored guests or when infirm or aged lovingly cared for but otherwise exogamous. Available mates will be part time,expected to fulfill their responsibilities to their matriline. This social unit is extent in tribal life, e.g., the Hopi. It is also possible by women pledging sisterhood to raise a community of their children, readily housed in Condos or Co-ops. Women get Romance and Babies when they want without endangerment.

Jul. 06 2012 03:40 PM
Barbara P


Interesting that you use the example of brands.

Why DO people pay more for a brand name instead of the generic, even when they have every rational reason to believe the contents are the same?

That's the same kind of dynamic that goes into discrimination - people start out with the perception of women's value as less. Over time, it may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If women don't get promoted, or thought of as equal contributors, they may live up to that expectation. (See:

Jun. 25 2012 03:50 PM

Lisa, if you believe that women get paid 77% less than men for the same work, then I would like to point this out to you:

Let's say you go into a store and want to buy five cans of peas. There are seven cans on the shelf. Five are of one brand marked $1.25. The other two are of a second brand marked $1.50. Assuming that in your subjective mind, both brands offer the same quality and quantity of peas that you are looking for (i.e., are equal), why would you possibly buy three of the $1.25 cans and two of the $1.50 cans when you can buy the five cans that you need for $1.25?

If, as you assume, that these "equally"-qualified women are being paid less than "equally"-qualified men for the same work, then why would the "greedy capitalist pig" employers hire any men at all? Wouldn't the employers go out of their way to hire as many cheaper equally-qualified women as possible? Wouldn't there be a large amount of higher-priced unemployed males out looking for work?

[By the way, as has been pointed out many times by others, how come women never complain to the government that they are being discriminated for when night clubs offer "Ladies' Night" discount drinks for them and/or even no cover charge for them to enter the clubs? I know—it's a way of making up for the lower wages they are being paid than their male counterparts!]

Jun. 21 2012 11:40 PM


From the delusional - "eCAHNomics" - point of view, you are correct. From the logical - economical - sense, not.

The slave owners did care for the slaves' children as it was their property, and they were financially motivated to take care of them.

Jun. 21 2012 12:48 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I'm enjoying this discussion & agree w/what I'm hearing on the issue itself. The 1 thing I'd dispute is that Ann Romney was "accused" of being a stay-at-home mother. Hilary Rosen may not have said it well, but her point was that Mrs. (I'm pretty sure that's what she'd prefer) Romney hadn't needed to earn money to support her family & therefore didn't have a good basis for her opinions on the financial problems so many Americans face.

Jun. 21 2012 12:41 PM
John A.

With hatcheries, marriage won't have to be made illegal. What has been the erosion with having just contraception - marriages down 30%?

Jun. 21 2012 12:33 PM

The 1%ers don't care any more for the children of the 99ers than slave owners cared for the children of their slaves.

Jun. 21 2012 12:32 PM

Kunin is just wrong about the "structural unemployment" claim — that the talent is available to fill higher-level jobs. If she and others claiming the same were right, we would not see the levels of unemployment we do among better-educated workers or the decline in wages that we see.

The problem there is that free market idolaters throw the free market ideology out the window when it comes to the market setting wages higher.

With respect to other claims Kunin makes:

The "American way of doing things" may just be wrong — from moral and economic standpoints. Scandinavian countries are doing quite well through the past several years _because of_ (not despite) policies that advocates of "the American way of doing things" call "socialism."

Jun. 21 2012 12:31 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

I have my solution. It was written down in "Brave New World"by Aldous Huxley back in the 1930s. YOu make marriage illegal, and produce children in hatcheries, and have corporations or the state raise them, and that way, as was the rubric in Brave New World, "No one belongs to anyone." In 1932 this was not possible. Today it could be very soon. There should be no marriage, no "families" no claims by anyone over anyone else.

It could be technically possible soon to produce embryos in testubes, produce them in hatcheries, and raise them without any concept of "father" or "mother." Everyone belonging only to themselves and free.

Jun. 21 2012 12:31 PM
Elle from Brooklyn

An issue that I rarely hear discussed regarding the inadequate maternity leave it the US is that after 12 weeks, many many babies are not yet sleeping through the night, so many mothers who are back at work are incredibly sleep deprived, meaning their productivity is down and their rate of errors is high. How is that efficient or beneficial to anyone?

Jun. 21 2012 12:22 PM
John A.

Lisa, she just described maternity leave. 130% becomes 100%

Jun. 21 2012 12:22 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Lisa

Women get custody of children in divorce in 77% of the cases. Actually, a lot more than that. Is that fair? Isn't that sexist, that mothers think they have much more right to the children than do fathers? Where is the equality there?

Jun. 21 2012 12:21 PM

The how far have we come/ how far do we have left to go question has been coming up a lot recently among my white collar girl friends. Most feel that their work places are basically meritocracies (an equation of talent, dedication, intelligence, common sense, personal skills, training, and of course, time spent dictates your success in the workplace). However, some industries lend themselves better to caregivers. Industries that are highly competitive/ schedule driven/ deadline driven and traditionally have long work hours such as Investment Banking or Architecture require their professionals, men or women, to subvert everything to their jobs. Successful men often are on their second or third marriages and successful women are often childless or less involved in their families than they would like to be. Other professions such as being a Medical Doctor or a Publishing Executive, seem to better accomodate caregiving.

Jun. 21 2012 12:21 PM

Women get paid 77% for the same work as men... this translates to working 130% for the same pay!

This is unacceptable at this day and age!

Jun. 21 2012 12:17 PM

When have any women in USG ever done anything to advance women's issues.

The way you get ahead in D.C. is to be one of the boys.

Jun. 21 2012 12:11 PM

Could men be listeners? Or ... (OMG!) the interviewers?

Tells us, the radical one...

Jun. 21 2012 12:05 PM

The war against women is over. Men won.

Jun. 21 2012 12:04 PM
John A.

I see no content in Eds comment that says men must be the deciders. Sorry.

Jun. 21 2012 11:45 AM
Feminista - the radical kind from New York

And I'm sure men like Ed are the perfect ones to decide what parts of feminism "don't make sense" and should be jettisoned. NOT.

Feminism is FOR WOMEN and BY WOMEN. Men don't get to decide what parts of feminism are "legitimate" or "good" any more than white people get to decide what parts of Black Liberation are "legitimate" "good" or "make sense".

Ed, your privilege as a man thinking he can decide what is good for women is what should be jettisoned.

Jun. 21 2012 11:40 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Probably the next step for feminism is to jettison the parts of feminism that don't make sense and to keep and progress with the legitimate and good parts. I think they call themselves 'equality feminists'.

Jun. 21 2012 08:05 AM

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