fall 2004
table of contents
Letter from the Editor
Articles Online

Scandal Patrol
Daughters Helping Working Mothers
Republican Women for Choice
Pregnant Women Murdered
San Francisco Women's Building
Sisters Who Sip


Haitians Fight Despair
Matenwa's Artists
Women with AIDS
Spanish Women in Charge
Gandhi Power
Afghan Women's Vote
Networking Corner

Cover Story
It's the Women, Stupid | Ellen Hawkes
Why the Gender Gap Matters | Eleanor Smeal
Fighting Words for a Secular America | Robin Morgan

More Features

The Unreal World | Jennifer Pozner
Virgin Territory | Camille Hahn
A Family Affair | Gillian Kane
Liv Ullmann: A Ms. Conversation | Robert Emmet Long
Liberating Mary | Bob Lamm


Where's That Smoking Gun? Sex discrimination is getting harder to prove | Pamela Haag

The Breast Cancer Divide: Why the disease kills so many African Americans | Michelle L. Smith, M.D.

A Feast of Feminist Art
"The Dinner Party" finds a home in Brooklyn | Carey Lovelace

Jamesey, Jamesey | Ursula Hegi
Intersection | Roxana Robinson

God Says Yes To Me | Kaylin Haught
| Donna Masini

Touching History
Encounters with women of renown: Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Hillary Clinton and Mamie "Peanut" Johnson

Book Reviews
Bob Bledsoe on The Finishing School by Murial Sparks; Valerie Miner on The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates; Samantha Dunn on The Doctor's Wife by Elizabeth Brundage; Carey Lovelace on Full Bloom: The
Art and Life of Georgia O'Keefe
by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp
; Patricia Cohen on Nightingales: The Extraordinary Upbringing and Curious Life of Miss Florence Nightingale by Gillian Gill

Plus: Fall Must-Read List

Save the Courts | Donna Brazile

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FEATURES | fall 2004

John Kerry listens to his daughter / M. Spencer Green/AP Photo

Daughterhood Is Powerful:
An Interview with Vanessa Kerry

At 27, Vanessa Kerry is just setting out on her career. She is enrolled in a master’s program in health policy and international relations in London and then will complete her third year at Harvard Medical School in 2005–2006.

For the moment, she has put her own plans on hold to campaign for her father. She and her sister, Alexandra, hit the stump to tell the public why they are supporting their father’s candidacy. Ms. magazine caught up with Vanessa by telephone in Las Vegas , Nev. , during the campaign’s transcontinental bus/train tour.

Let’s talk about those 22 million unmarried women who didn’t vote—

I know, isn’t that an incredible number?

Have you heard from friends and contemporaries remarks like “I don’t vote because it doesn’t matter”?

Absolutely. In fact, the chief reason I got involved with the campaign was because I talked to my friends and found that the feeling that they all shared was that they couldn’t make a difference. I realized that was such a shame, because I really believe that we have a responsibility as Americans to pick our leadership, a responsibility not only to ourselves but to the rest of the world. I grew up in a house where both my parents were involved in creating change back in the 1960s. I was always told by both my parents that if you really believe in something and fight for it, with a little innovation you really can make an impact.

And you’re trying to reach out to young women?

I’m reaching out to youth in general, but when I heard those numbers of young women who didn’t vote, I found it incredibly alarming. I feel this election is going to affect us almost more than any other group — considering, for example, the bill banning partial-birth abortions that just got passed, and the fact that women still make only 70 cents on the dollar, compared to men. I think we need the kind of leadership that’s going to invest in women and really create equality. That’s really important to me.

Your father told you as you were growing up that “you can do anything you want,” so there was no sense of your gender being a barrier?

It wasn’t always that explicit, it was more of who my dad is at his baseline. I remember when I started playing hockey, and he very much encouraged me because I wanted to do it. He bought me my first pair of hockey skates. Then one day we were at a store and he was buying me some new hockey gloves. The salesman was very condescending about my getting them. My dad said, “Look, this kid plays first-line ice hockey at her school.” He was just really upset because of the way somebody was judging me because I was a girl.

Does that translate into the ways he thinks about women’s rights and policies to give women a level playing field?

Of course. First of all, look at his relationship with my stepmother. That is a real partnership. He values what she says and celebrates it. That is an incredible example on its own. Second, look at his campaign. His campaign manager is a woman. His national co-chair is a woman, his chief communications director is a woman; there are women at all levels of his campaign.

As a physician in training, you must have a very specific sense of what should be a private decision between a doctor and a patient.

Yes, I do. I feel strongly that a woman should have the right to choose, and I certainly believe that this needs to be an issue that is discussed, especially since I’m watching the dwindling number of health practitioners in this country who are able to give women that choice.

On the campaign trail, are you finding anything that young women particularly respond to?

Civil liberties are a huge issue with them. We as young women want to know that we are valued, that we are going to be taken seriously, that we have options and can do whatever we want. Sometimes it very much comes down to gender lines on certain issues — like the partial-birth abortion legislation, and the fact that Roe v. Wade is one Supreme Court seat from being overturned, which is horrifying, because then women would essentially be told that they can’t make decisions for themselves.

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