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Interview #466: Clarenbach, Kathryn F. (September, 2009)

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Eleventh Interview Session (January 13, 1988): Tape 11

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00:12

KC describes some of her travels outside the U.S.; she mentions a 1970 visit to the Virgin Islands; her four trips to Hawaii; her 1977 visit to West Berlin at the invitation of the Aspen Institute for a week-long seminar on employment discrimination against women; and her three or four trips to Canada.

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02:23

KC discusses in detail her trip to Cuba in 1978. While there, KC and other U.S. women met with the delegation of Cuban women who had been at the International Women's Year Conference in Houston. KC describes what they saw. She was particularly impressed by the new family law code in Cuba, which called for men to help women around the house. KC saw a great many changes in Cuba that were beneficial to women. She gives some examples of successful programs, like the elimination of prostitution and the literacy campaign. She briefly discusses the visit of the delegation of Cuban women to the U.S. in the early 1980s.

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14:36

In Cuba, KC saw no extremes of rich and poor. People were proud of their level of living because it was better than it had been before, but it was still crowded and meager.

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16:29

KC moves on to her tour of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. She was impressed by the degrees of wealth and poverty there. She stayed with another Clarenbach, who was very wealthy and unpopular among progressive people. It was hard for KC to stay in his beautiful house because she knew he was exploiting the land and the people.

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20:04

At the meeting KC attended in St. Thomas, the important issue was bringing together native black people and “imported” white people. The class and race distinctions were very apparent. It was a coup to get black women from all the islands to participate.

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22:34

KC discusses feminism as a world-wide movement. U.S. women are very ignorant of the rest of the world and a lot of this ignorance is being broken down by world-wide women's movements. KC thinks the U.S. should be educated about this. There's awareness in the women's movement that U.S. women didn't start it; there are many radical women's groups in European countries and in the Third World.

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26:59

KC describes what the women's movement is doing for older women. But young single mothers are now the most impoverished women in the country and this has changed public policy. There are needs along the continuum of the life span. Young children are the most oppressed. KC is eager to hear more from Donna Shalala on this issue and finds it hard to understand how public officials can think only of mothers on welfare instead of the children who rely on it. Returning to the issue of older women, KC says that not enough is being done for them and explains why.

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32:15

KC discusses the importance of education in the women's movement. She thinks education is part of any political job. The role of the women's movement is also to educate. KC offers some examples of this educational role.

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38:39

KC briefly discusses NOW's sometimes negative attitude toward coalition, including that of President Molly Yard, and her attitude toward reviving efforts to pass the ERA. KC thinks the women's movement shouldn't push for it unless there's an instant chance of ratification because such efforts take up too much energy; even if the amendment passed, it doesn't mean everything would open up. [Note: between 38:23 & 38:34, tape 11 side 1 ends and tape 11 side 2 begins.]

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38:34 Twelfth Interview Session (January 20, 1988): Tapes 11-12

KC describes some of the most important gains of the women's movement in her time. She sees these changes reflected in women's improved self-esteem, which leads to greater participation in politics and various careers. Changes in attitudes are also occurring at the grass-roots level. Within the women's movement itself, KC sees a more international outlook. Feminists still have a long way to go in getting women into real decision-making positions, like foreign policy; KC describes some efforts that are being made to change this.

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45:34

KC explains why foreign policy will change if women are in higher positions. Right now, only women who imitate accepted mores get anywhere; it will take time before policy differences will emerge. According to KC, there is a difference between feminists and females. Unless people make that distinction, having women in decision-making won't matter.

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48:40

KC briefly outlines some of the major setbacks for women in the last five to ten years, like federal cutbacks in health care. She sees these changes as part and parcel of the militarization of society and explains why. Mentioning the decline in civil rights and increases in gay bashing as examples, KC says one can't separate sex-based discrimination from other kinds of discrimination.

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54:27

KC believes feminism opens one's eyes to other issues. Sometimes the connection between issues needs to be pointed out; KC, for example, learned that rape was a political issue. She describes some of the changes the women's movement has made in that area.

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01:00:02

KC sees efforts to juggle home and family as the next big issue for young women, but she doesn't know how far they'll get in getting men and women to redefine their goals. She questions why certain levels of achievement are considered desirable and thinks men are reluctant to change because family men are not seen as being achievers.

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1:05:28

KC is ambivalent about whether she could have achieved more without the constraints of family. She thinks being a parent is good for adults. But she wonders if she is rationalizing her enjoyment of her role as parent.

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1:07:39

KC explains what she has learned from her children. She describes the political beliefs of her husband and children and discusses the influence of her feminism on her children.

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1:17:18

KC discusses what she might do differently as a social activist now. She wonders that she didn't entertain the option of not marrying. She's sorry she didn't have legal training, but part of the excitement about the feminist movement was learning about such things. Because her work at the university has been very self-defined, she has had the opportunity to have new experiences and to learn. KC has also met many wonderful women through her work. She was often prodded to apply for work in Washington, but she didn't; she explains why.

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1:24:45

End of tape 11

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