Ms. Magazine

spring 2003
* * * *
this is what a feminist looks like

The Feminist To-Do List by Gloria Steinem
Ms. Poll Feminist Tide Sweeps In as the 21st Century Begins by Lorraine Dusky
Affirmative Action on Trial by Teresa Stern
Women on Death Row by Claudia Dreifus
In the Thick of Life at 70 by Jessica Chornesky

Special Action Alert
Women Take Action Worldwide
Listing: Coalitions and Groups
National Council of Women's Organizations Statement on War with Iraq
NCWO Partial Members List
Why Peace is (More Than Ever) a Feminist Issue
by Grace Paley

Writing of War and Its Consequences
Ghosts of Home by Patricia Sarrafian Ward
Tales from an Ordinary Iranian Girlhood by Marjane Satrapi
Snow in Summer: LA, CA, 1963 by Helen Zelon

Pat Summitt's 800th Victory
Augusta Golf Club's Red Face
National Map of Priest Abuse
Women Warriors
Lesbians with Strollers
Kopp Trial
Trouble in Herat, Afghanistan
Reproductive Rights in Poland
Health Clinics in Guatemala
Congolese Women for Peace
Global Good News Round-Up
The Opposite of a Nuclear Bomb

Lower Breast Cancer Risks by Liz Galst
The Making of an Activist by Gloria Feldt
Nature Conservancy Gains by Rachel Rabkin
Harvard Stumbles on Rape Rules by Lorraine Dusky
The Bush Overhaul of Federal Courts by Stephanie B. Goldberg
My Friend Yeshi by Alice Walker

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Grace Paley is a long-time activist in the anti-war, anti-nuclear, and feminist movements.

Why Peace is (More Than Ever) A Feminist Issue
by Grace Paley

Photo Credit: New York State Writers Institute

Excerpted from the book Sisterhood is Forever: The Women's Anthology for a New Millennium, compiled, edited, and introduced by Robin Morgan (Washington Square Press, March 2003). Copyright 2003 by Robin Morgan. Excerpted by permission of Washington Square Press, a division of Simon and Schuster, Inc.

I. Words
I have received a couple of letters from people who reminded me that I am now an older person, and what do I think I am leaving to the next generation? They explained that the world is in worse shape than it was when I was an energetic middle-aged person. What would be my-well, if I were a man, it would be patrimony. So I came to these two interesting words: patrimony and matrimony.

Patrimony and matrimony do not say what they mean. Patriarchy and matriarchy do. Patrimony, as any reader probably knows, is what you inherit from your father. Matrimony is the state of being in a marriage. Now men live in it-marriage-as weft as women, and it is therefore a little joke for men that this word is used about a condition in which women and families have often suffered the strongest patriarchal oppression. Matrimony is not what you inherit from your mother, probably because in history she didn't own much of anything. This was true at least 500 years ago, sounding a little more French. It was true in France and England and pretty much everywhere else. So you see, it's been a long time since we say that matrimony or marriage is women’s inheritance. There are probably other words that disregard their etymological roots in order to be transformed into the gender-ridden history of men and women.

If marriage and its historic condition has been what women leave to their daughters and sons, what is it that men leave, have left, and continue to leave?

War, of course.

To their sons, it's excitement, creativity, mutilation, and death.

To their daughters, rape, torture, widowhood, famine, and death.


Grace Paley on the Ms. Bookshelf

* Sisterhood Is Forever: The Women's Anthology for a New Millennium
* The Collected Stories
* Enormous Changes at the Last Minute

Copyright Ms. Magazine 2009