Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Sandy's possible replacement

For a president who has arguably already screwed us up enough, he now gets two Supreme Court slots to fill. The new nomination was announced yesterday, and I have to admit, I've been feeling too pessimistic to check into her. What prompted me to note, however, is that to me -the departure of Sandra Day O'Connor somehow signifies to me a shift in the tide in feminist politics. It's well known that Justice O'Connor, a graduate (near top of her class) of Stanford law could initially only get a job as a legal secretary. Her progression in the legal field seems at least temporally linked to the increase in momentum from the feminist movement. Then, the fight was to get women into the workplace on equal footing to men. Now, the trend is for women to leave the workplace, not long after entering it at the professional level. Like her ascension, Justic O'Connor's departure seems well timed to reflect the trend of women in the workplace. I appreciate that the U.S. is a better place and women are better off as a result of the first movement. I fear, however, that if too many of us leave - simply because we can - we will be sending the message that we weren't really serious about participating in (what was once) traditionally male-dominated fields - that we just came, collected our degrees, played for a bit, then did exactly what they all said they'd do (in justifying employment discrimination) - have babies and leave.
I guess there are two conflicting problems here: the individual feminist, and the feminist movement. I define the individual feminist as one who is empowered and knowledgeable enough to make her own decision - regardless of whether it goes against the grain. I'm wondering if we all have an obligation to make these decisions with collective feminism in mind. Do we owe it to future or past generations to maintain a presence in the workplace or politics if it would serve as a placeholder for future women or as an acknowledgement of the fight in the past? I don't know, but I see it as a difficult choice I may have to make in the future.

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