Johns Hopkins Gazette: March 13, 1995

Gandy Delivers NOW Vow at Johns Hopkins University: 
"We Won't Go Back"

By Lisa Mastny

     Kim Gandy thinks Rush Limbaugh epitomizes the absolute worst
of America.  She has a personal vendetta out on Newt Gingrich.
She can't bring herself to call the congressional agenda anything
but the Contract "on" America.

     In short, she hates politics these days.

     But, if things go her way, the conservative wave won't even
outlast the 1996 elections.

     As the executive vice president of the National Organization
for Women, Gandy is currently at the forefront of a not-so-small
revolution of her own, preparing the way for what she calls the
most impressive feminist rally in history--the Rally for Women's
Lives scheduled for April 9.

     About 40 people, almost half of them male, showed up in the
McCoy Multipurpose Room on Monday for Gandy's talk on "Women,
Violence and College Campuses."  In her discussion, Gandy
addressed a number of the issues to be covered at the rally,
including domestic violence against women, anti-abortion violence
and the war on poor women. 

     Hopkins was only one of many stops on her whirlwind quest to
mobilize students on college campuses nationwide for the upcoming
event, when hundreds of thousands of protesters are expected to
converge on Capitol Hill and send this unmistakable message to
Congress: "We Won't Go Back."

     "If successful, the mass mobilization will bring our message
home to Newt Gingrich, Congress and the people who would send
women back to the old days, when we had less opportunity, less
hope of educational advancement and fewer employment
opportunities," Gandy told the audience. "But we won't go. We
won't lose what we've worked so hard to achieve."

     Since its formation in 1966, NOW has made significant
advances in women's rights, including most recently lobbying
Congress to pass the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, which
recognizes the civil rights violations of gender-based crimes and
contributes approximately $1.6 billion in federal aid to their
prevention and treatment.

     Gandy herself is a longtime activist, having held NOW office
at the state or national level every year since 1975. Prior to
serving NOW, she founded the Louisiana Women's Lobby Network and
drafted both the Louisiana Child Support Enforcement Act and the
state's first Domestic Abuse Assistance Act. She later opened a
private law practice in New Orleans and litigated countless
domestic violence, child support, lesbian mother custody and
other cases seeking fair treatment for women. 

     But while her personal successes are innumerable, Gandy
fears that the broader impact of her work may be shortlived if
violence against women is increasingly considered "acceptable
behavior" among such influential people as Rush Limbaugh.

     "Rush Limbaugh is a perfect example of what we're up against
now," she told her audience, which cringed at every mention of
his name. "This is a man who preaches hate every day and who has
made misogyny OK and almost acceptable in this  society. And it
wasn't before. For a while there, we had succeeded."

     By degrading blacks, Native Americans and the poor, and by
calling women fighting for empowerment "femi-nazis," Limbaugh
plays into the fears of unemployed men who are afraid of job
competition, Gandy said.

     "What he's saying to people in this country who think they
are or ought to be privileged is, 'This country is your country,
these privileges are yours, and these other groups are taking
away your birthright and your jobs,'" she said. 

     Even prominent working women often end up the scapegoats of
men who are unwilling to accept female aggression and
intelligence, Gandy said. 

     "Men lash out because they are afraid of the corporate
B-I-T-C-H, a woman 'Being In Total Control of Herself," she said.
"If a woman is in control of herself, then she is 'out of
control' because she is not controlled by a man. She is
aggressive and independent and, therefore, deserves punishment
and whatever comes her way, men say."

     By addressing both male and female audiences on the issue of
domestic violence, Gandy hopes to create broader awareness of the
sources of such crimes as rape and wife-beating, which have
consistently increased over the past 10 years although violent
crime rates have gone down.

     "The roots of domestic violence grow at an early age, and we
are socializing young boys to be cannon fodder," she said. "When
a baseball coach tells a little boy that he throws like a girl,
or his peers tell him he's a sissy because he won't fight, he's
going to think it's a bad thing to be 'girly.'  He learns that if
you can't use violence to control someone and defend yourself,
then you are the worst of all things, which is feminine."

     Such attitudes regularly lead to gender inequalities in
sentencing and criminal procedure as well, Gandy said.

     "There are plenty of cases where men get off with work
release or home detention because the male judge sympathizes with
a husband whose wife cheats on him. It's pretty well documented
that women who kill abusive husbands in self-defense tend to get
more jail than men who commit violent crimes out of aggression,"
she said.  

     Gandy hopes that both her talk and the upcoming rally will
raise public consciousness about gender-based violence and
demonstrate that it is not an isolated issue. She is optimistic
that the mass participation, including the over 50 Hopkins
students she anticipates at the rally, will contribute to the
success of the weekend.

     "As soon as you experience the feeling of being surrounded
by thousands like you, you realize how much power you have," she
said. "You get more skills and energy to tackle the problem
ahead. No matter what happens, it's going to be historic and it's
going to change your life.  It's going to change the country and
nothing is ever going to be the same again."

     For more information about participating in the upcoming
rally and NOW events, contact Hopkins affiliate Keri Hicks at

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