In the face of these simple facts, contrary
to common sense, irrespective of every study to the contrary, and to the great detriment
of society as a whole, the National Organization for Women writes:
WHEREAS the success of these groups [read:
fatherhood organizations] will be harmful to all women but especially harmful to battered
and abused women and children
Author Accuses Women's Groups of Racketeering
Wednesday, October 23, 2002
By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos
WASHINGTON - A researcher of women's organizations is accusing
bedrock feminist groups of threatening legal pressure and public
embarrassment of corporations and schools if they don't
contribute millions of dollars and alter policy to their liking.
Author Kimberly Schuld, who recently published a Guide to
Feminist Organizations, breaks down the membership, personnel and
funding of nearly 40 established women's organizations, think
tanks and health groups.
"They use each other, they are very closely aligned and they
don't work independently," Schuld told Foxnews.com. "The MO of
these feminist organizations is to threaten with lawsuits and
threaten with embarrassment. They don't care about women, they
care about their own power."
The groups targeted by Schuld's critique, including the National
Organization for Women, the National Council of Women's
Organizations, and the National Women's Law Center, dismiss
Schuld's claims as conservative paranoia, and say all they are
doing is fighting for issues important to women like child care,
Social Security and equality.
"If we did not exist, [conservatives] would have nothing better
to do, that's all they exist for, to tear down what we do," said
Martha Burk, head of NCWO, which is currently engaged in a
campaign against the men-only Augusta Golf Club in Georgia.
Burk said her coalition has never threatened a lawsuit or a
boycott and it does not take corporate dollars.
"[Schuld] doesn't know what she is talking about. Our agenda does
help women, pushing our agenda is what we're all about and our
agenda is for equal access for women in our society," she said.
Schuld contends that it's more about money than principle and
says several major corporations have found through experience
that it is easier to upgrade their policies beyond existing
federal and state law than to tangle with the likes of groups
"[Women] have workplace protections up the wazoo, we are probably
the most protected class in the country." Schuld said. "But this
is just a shakedown over public relations. The last thing
[corporations] need is a story in The New York Times saying their
corporation is being sued."
For instance, Schuld said, in 1999, NOW-NYC activists pressured
more than 900 women employees to sue Merrill Lynch for gender
discrimination on the job. The stock trading company settled with
individual plaintiffs, and Merrill Lynch donated $25,000 to the
NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund in 2000.
"Sometimes the law doesn't work perfectly, and sometimes we're
just pointing out that rights are being violated. No money is
exchanged," said Nancy Duff Campbell, co-president of the
National Women's Law Center. "I disagree that the law is perfect
and nothing needs to be changed."
NWLC received $158,000 in legal fees in 2000, as well as $3.8
million in corporate, public and government funding.
Corporate dollars don't always stop the lawsuits, however.
Merrill Lynch gave $10,000 each to NOWLDEF and NWLC in 1998.
Donors like May Department Stores, which operates Lord & Taylor,
has given money to NOW for many years. In recent years they have
been sued several times, including by a male employee who wanted
diaper-changing stations in the men's restrooms.
Officials at NOW did not return calls for comment. Between
NOWLDEF, NOW and the NOW Foundation, the operation raised more
than $12 million in revenues in 2000, though membership has been
in decline for a decade, said Schuld.
Another breeding ground for lawsuits is on college campuses,
where schools are required under federal Title IX statutes to
give women equal access to athletic programs in public
institutions that receive federal funding.
Under the threat of legal action, schools have cut longstanding
swimming, football and baseball teams. Brown University is
currently engaged in a lawsuit over female athletic participation
rates -- even though it has more teams for women than for men on
Schuld said the women's groups are in cahoots to "basically throw
the fishnet out for plaintiffs" on campuses across the country,
encouraging girls to seek legal assistance if they feel spurned
by the system.
Campbell said she would not describe it that way.
"We are about trying to advance the legal rights for women and
that includes educational programs about what their legal rights
are. Women do have legal rights. They come to us to ask what
their rights are," she said.
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