A Loss for Dolores Huerta, And the World

doloreshuerta richardchavez

I was distraught to learn last night of the unexpected death of Richard Estrada Chavez, the life partner of my dear friend Dolores Huerta, who serves on the Feminist Majority Foundation board of directors. Richard was the younger brother of Cesar Chavez, who cofounded the United Farm Workers (UFW) with Dolores. Richard was a tireless […]

She “Desexed” Our Language: Remembering Kate Swift, 1923-2011


Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky … My great-aunt Kate Swift and I memorized T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” during one of many childhood visits to Maine. We traded lines back and forth, lying in the mossy beds of woods near […]

Missing Betty Ford


I saw Betty Ford in person for my first and only time in November 1977. She was seated next to Rosalynn Carter, and they shared the stage with Maya Angelou and New York’s Bella Abzug, the former congresswoman who had written the legislation governing the National Women’s Conference in Houston. The current and former first […]

Betty Ford’s Death Illustrates What Has Been Lost in Our Political Culture


How much I appreciated your gracious letter telling of plans for the Western Regional Conference on Abortion and inviting me to attend. Although my upcoming personal and official commitments will not permit me to be with you,  I am grateful for this opportunity to convey my warmest greetings to all attending and my hopes for […]

Betty Ford, Champion of Women’s Rights

Photo: Eleanor Smeal and former first lady Betty Ford appear at a 1981 countdown rally for the Equal Rights Amendment in Washington.

I will never forget the day in 1981 that I asked Betty Ford to be an honorary co-chair with Alan Alda of the Equal Rights Amendment Countdown Campaign. I thought it would be a long, involved process. But she said almost immediately that she would be honored to do so. At the time Betty Ford, […]

Last Woman on the Space Shuttle in T-5, 4, 3, 2, 1!


Today, at 11:29 a.m. EDT, Sandy Magnus blasted off–becoming the last woman astronaut to enter space via the NASA space shuttle program. Magnus is a NASA veteran, with two previous flights under her belt. And she’s certainly not the only woman to become a space hero. Yet, besides Sally Ride and Christa McAuliffe (who died […]

Jewish Feminist E.M. Broner Dies


At first I was confused when the rabbi at my university’s Hillel placed an orange on our seder plate during the Passover celebration. Where was there an orange in the story of Passover? Later, I learned that my rabbi was honoring the feminist world of Judaism, following in the footsteps of Esther M. Broner (E.M. […]

Joanna Russ: When Sci-Fi Changed


I’m not much of a connoisseur of science fiction, feminist or otherwise. But in the flush of the Second Wave, I read two feminist sci-fi stories that have always stuck with me: Ursula K. LeGuin‘s “Sur,” which appeared in The New Yorker in 1982, and Joanna Russ’s “When It Changed.” The former imagines a secret […]

Remembering Marathon Pioneer Grete Waitz

grete waitz

When Grete Waitz won the New York City Marathon for the first time in 1978–she would be victorious in the race eight more times over the next 10 years–competitive marathon running for women was still in its infancy. But Waitz, who died today at 57 in her native Norway, helped bring it into the international […]

Happy Birthday, Alice Walker!


Alice Walker: novelist, poet, short-story writer, essayist, teacher, editor, publisher, womanist, activist. Also a Pulitzer-Prize winner, a Guggenheim fellow, a Merrill fellow, a Radcliffe Institute fellow, a National Book Award winner and on and on. Her books have been banned and restored, critiqued and revered. She has contributed to Ms. in more than thirty issues, […]