From my journal, March 3, 1985
Mum was one of the speakers at the International Women's Day luncheon today. The other was an anti-nuke ultra-liberal named Mary Lou Brophy. Mum did a good job describing how our family had become involved in the peace movement. ("We found that we'd become leaders in the peace movement. We didn't even know there was a peace movement.")
Mary Lou spoke loftily, brashly and aggressively about women's power, about sisterhood, about the value of each person, about the need to say, "No, we won't let killing go on in our community." (She had helped get nuclear weapons out of Seal Beach.) She asked rhetorically why the women of Dachau had not risen up to stop what was happening in the camp there. She said, "I didn't bear kids to have them grow up to kill another mother's kids."
When it was time for questions, I stood and addressed Mary Lou, reminding her of what she had just said about saying "no" to killing in our community. Then I asked, "Would you please apply this to the issue of abortion?"
An actual audible "Boo" filled the dining room from over 100 throats. Mary Lou tightened, said in a cold voice, "Every woman has the constitutional right to abortion. Next question."
Someone in the audience spoke up. "What abut the bombings and the harassment at clinics--" She went on at length.
Mary Lou: "Let's get back to specific issues of peace."
Mum stepped up to her microphone. "I think the issue is one that needs to be addressed. I agree with Jessica, not just because she is my daughter. We need to face the fact that nuclear weapons and abortion are both destructive."
Bless you, Mum, for backing me up!
Then a young woman rose and said, "We're all women and we have different viewpoints. Just because this woman [meaning me] sees things differently from some of the rest of us is no reason to jump down her throat."
"I didn't hear anybody's throat being jumped down," said Mary Lou stiffly and immediately took the next question.
In a couple of minutes the luncheon was over. The woman on my right told me privately she agreed with me, the woman on my left (one of the organizers) told me it wasn't fair on children to have them born into a family where you didn't know what would happen to them. (I was too shattered to bring up the arguments about abortion as preventive medicine or ultimate child abuse .)
At that moment the emcee said to join hands so we all joined hands and sang, "Let there be peace and let it begin with me" and then everyone milled around or left, many of them averting their gaze from me or staring without expression at my smile.
How ironic, I thought, that all the feminist talk of sisterhood and unity and peace only applies to women who agree with them!
Today I am thankful for clouds.