University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The University of Wisconsin Collection

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

View all of Second Interview

Previous Previous subsection



 

Third Interview Session (April 11, 1989): Tape 15

Listen to Third Interview Session (April 11, 1989): Tape 15

00:09

Discussing her major contributions to the women's movement, KC says she's had more of an impact in Wisconsin than nationally. Because the Wisconsin Commission was headquartered in her office, it gave her the flexibility to conduct educational efforts.

Listen to this section

04:45

KC had a hand in the E. B. Fred fellowship and the women and apprenticeship project, for which they made a film, “Never Underestimate the Power of a Woman.” They had requests all over the country for that film. KC talks more about the women and apprenticeship project, which was an effort to move women into nontraditional occupations; it became the model for the Women's Bureau of the Labor Department.

Listen to this section

07:22

A lot of these projects had a big impact. One project for the National Advisory Council on Women's Educational Programs held four regional conferences that brought together rural women and girls and various services. KC wrote the final publication for that project, “Educational Needs of Rural Women and Girls.”

Listen to this section

10:56

There was an underlying educational component in everything KC did. She has a couple of audiotapes from her earlier days as a feminist, and finds her vocabulary then fascinating; it was gentler because she didn't want to offend anybody.

Listen to this section

11:54

KC's speeches have undergone a lot of changes, but she's not sure how much of this change comes from her and how much is the result of changes in the outer world. In the late 1960s, for example, she had to emphasize that there was nothing freakish about women being in the work force, and high school counselors were hostile when she said that they shortchanged girls by encouraging them to be typists or nurses. Those speeches are no longer necessary, and KC's not sure if attitudes have changed or she's changed.

Listen to this section

15:56

KC's Midwestern roots are helpful in the Midwest, but she offers a couple of examples of problems caused by her background—Betty Friedan, for example, described her as a “rawboned Midwesterner.” She relates a few more instances in which her background affected her, like when she accepted her first teaching job at Purdue rather than Bryn Mawr because she wasn't comfortable on the East Coast. She's sure her background made it easier to communicate with women in the rural women's project and the continuing education project.

Listen to this section

25:25

KC has not been universally popular. She got hate mail from right-to-lifers and religious fundamentalists, and a number of her friends had to defend her to others.

Listen to this section

26:52

KC's family life influenced her political activity because it affected her attitude toward men. She believes women don't have a monopoly on virtues, and all men aren't male chauvinists. This is one thing the gay and lesbian movement has also helped people to understand.

Listen to this section

29:54

Discussing the advances made by the women's movement, KC says that there's a more generalized acceptance of women. Women are moving into positions of authority, although they're still powerless in foreign affairs and high finance. Another advance is the development of women's studies and its revision of human knowledge.

Listen to this section

32:30

KC sees women's studies as part and parcel of the women's movement. Women's studies has long-range potential, as additional history, psychology, and literature books are written. There's also been an amazing outpouring of women's art.

Listen to this section

38:08

KC sees the influences of the women's movement in organized religion.

Listen to this section

38:26

Discussing the global nature of the women's movement, KC mentions the study “Sisterhood is Global,” which suggests that the West's ignorance of the rest of the world is monumental.

Listen to this section

39:21

Another strength of the women's movement is its focus on peace. Women are leaders in identifying and opposing violence. But to make changes, women have to be in positions in the decision-making establishment.

Listen to this section

41:28

KC continues to be appalled and frustrated by the slowness with which women are elected to Congress, although there have been enormous strides at the state and local level. This difficulty probably exists because of the glass ceiling and because it's very difficult to unseat someone in office at the Congressional level. It's also hard for women to get elected to Congress because it's becoming more expensive to run for national office.

Listen to this section

44:38

KC begins to discuss some of the errors made by the women's movement.

Listen to this section

45:47

One of the difficulties in the women's movement is that is has tried to be nonpartisan. But despite some Republican feminists, the Republican Party has in general been diametrically opposed to the interests of women. The Democrats have failed to take advantage of this, and a women's party has no potential. To KC, this is one of the great failures of the women's movement. The influence of women in the Democratic Party has not been great, and the Democratic Party has not addressed itself to the concerns of women, minorities, and working people. KC thinks Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition inspired more hope.

Listen to this section

49:44

The women's movement hasn't done a great job of educating young people. There are many young people in awful situations, who are in single-parent households, exposed to drugs and violence, and out of work; they're not going to grow up to be nonsexist liberated feminists.

Listen to this section

51:21

Discussing how the women's movement has addressed a broad range of issues, KC points out that a lot of grass-roots services, like crisis hotlines and shelters, have been done on a shoelace by community women.

Listen to this section

55:27

The agenda of state legislatures, KC notes, could almost have been written by the women's movement. Women in Congress have managed to work together across party lines and have been joined by a great many men. Coalition-building with men at the state level has been successful. There's been a real effort to keep state legislatures progressive.

Listen to this section

57:25

Before the ERA is ever reintroduced, KC believes the women's movement should count votes before it invests in another all-out effort. KC doesn't think they have those votes now.

Listen to this section

59:12

The women's movement has been responsible for educating people about the status of women on the national as well as state level. There are now forty or fifty national organizations that educate on women's issues.

Listen to this section

1:01:24

Asked how she believes feminists today can best reach young women who say they aren't feminists, KC says she doesn't foresee the day when there won't be a vocal opposition to the women's movement because the women's movement is struggling against the status quo. Its opposition comes from those who want to confirm the enormous gaps between rich and poor. It wasn't just Phyllis Schlaffly and the Eagle Forum who defeated the ERA; they were the front people for the boys in the back room, who wanted to make it look as though women were divided. Progressives and conservatives are going to remain divided no matter what the agenda. Nobody can call herself a feminist and be opposed to raising the minimum wage. Feminism is a vision of a different kind of society, where people don't lack health care and housing.

Listen to this section

1:07:48

KC points out that women working in battered women's shelters can get so involved in the whole subject of domestic abuse that they don't see any connection between that and the rest of the feminist agenda.

Listen to this section

1:11:11

KC says we need good child care and need to make the workplace more hospitable to families. KC uses recent progressive efforts to change property tax laws as another example of needed change. All sorts of people who voted against that constitutional amendment voted against their own self-interest. This is where education needs to come in.

Listen to this section

1:15:57

KC thinks the yuppie mentality, in which success is measured in dollars, has affected a lot of people. In amassing money and getting funding, women begin to think success is measured in dollars and may support laws that won't raise the minimum wage or won't base property taxes on the ability to pay. Women imitate men when they get into high places because that's the way the system is.

Listen to this section

1:19:21

KC remembers Round Table discussions concerning two percent, across-the-board faculty raises. KC felt only the lowest-paid people should get the biggest raise. People found it hard to believe that she was willing to forego her own raise to allow that, but she believed in equality.

Listen to this section

1:21:20

KC says there has been progress overall. There are infinitely more people who care about women's issues; the 600,000 people who marched for reproductive rights in Washington are a hopeful sign.

Listen to this section

1:22:31

End of interview session 3

Listen to this section

Previous Previous subsection




Go up to Top of Page