Ms. Magazine

spring 2003
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this is what a feminist looks like

Features
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

News
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

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

II. A Story: Inherit the War
The father has been preparing a war for his son’s birthday. He started long ago. You have to, you know. People who decide on a war and expect it to happen the minute or week or month they want it to are often disappointed. You also cannot do it alone. The father has a few friends from his war who are willing to help out. They have sons, too. There are quite simple ways to begin-- probably in childhood. For instance, help the boy develop an easy dislike for your neighbor's daughter. Mild prejudice will then rest contentedly in his little breast. As time goes on, it can appear as nothing worse than sleepy contempt for the girl next door.

The father remembers his war, how long it took for his father to get it right. He was almost too old. (The father and his friends are now called The Great Generation. This isn't exactly fair. Their fathers had fought in an equally famous war, and luckily had survived to provide a war in turn for this father and his friends.)

This father does need more preparation, and quickly. His son is growing beautifully, but he's reading too much. Some of his ideas seem to come from Leftish media. The schools are also bad, even treacherous. But the father is sure he can find the old newspapers he's kept or the right pages of the history book, which are very clever about enumerating insults to our national soul and natural hegemony. The recollection of historical insult is as important in the life of great nations as their stunning victories.

The father would like his son to be an airman. Of course, anxiety about civilian deaths-- women and children-- always undercuts the enthusiasm of sentimental citizens and tenderhearted boys.

He's talked to many other fathers. They're nearly ready. They've begun their letters to newspapers, their attacks on the wimps in Congress and the administration. Most important, they've selected the enemy and are very clear about it.

The father has only one year left-- before his son’s eighteenth birthday.
His son is not unaware of what is coming. He has that boyish excitement, that intensifying patriotism-- his own war at last.

III. Is There a Difference Between Men and Women?
The arms trade. The slave trade. The trade in women’s bodies.

IV. What Now:
Today's wars are about oil. But alternate energies exist now-- solar, wind-- for every important energy-using activity in our lives. The only human work that cannot be done without oil is war.

So men lead us to war for enough oil to continue to go to war for oil.

I'm now sure that these men can't stop themselves anymore-- even those who say they want to. There are too many interesting weapons. Besides, theirs is a habit of centuries, eons. They will not break that habit themselves.

For ourselves, for our girl and boy children, women will have to organize as we have done before-- and also as we have never done before-- to break that habit for them, once and for all.

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Bio

Grace Paley ("Two Ways of Telling") has written three books of short stories, now published as The Collected Stories of Grace Paley (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, cloth 1994, paperback 1995). Her collection of essays, Just As I Thought (1998), and her Collected Poems (2002) were also published by Farrar, Starus & Giroux. Long Walks and Intimate Talks, her compilation of poems and prose sketches, was published in 1991 by The Feminist Press at CUNY.

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