Feminism Hoopla Debunked, by Lynn Monty
Burlington Free Press - September 8, 2014
With some women speaking out against feminism on social media, and pop star Beyonce's sex-fueled feminism performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, more than a few mixed signals are being sent to both genders.
Questions arise: What exactly is feminism? Why the stir?
An expert on the subject, former Vermont Gov. Madeleine Kunin takes a stab at clearing up the confusion. Kunin, the state's 77th governor, was the first and only woman to hold the position, and she was first woman in the United States to serve three terms as a governor.
Kunin served from 1985-1991. She also served as the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland from 1996-99.
Kunin was there in the 1960s when women burned their bras. Her book, "The New Feminist Agenda," has sold more than 10,000 copies since it was published two years ago.
She wrote the book to stir up support for working families, she said. Although women have the freedom to take on higher and more demanding positions, Kunin is on a mission to change policies on child care, paid family leave, paid sick leave and flexible work hours. Her aim is to build up greater security for Vermonters.
We spoke to Kunin this month about her views on feminism.
Times Argus Editorial
- Human issues -
Madeleine Kunin was in Rutland on Wednesday to talk about the challenges women face as they seek to live productive and rewarding lives with careers and families.
The obstacles facing women have not gone away despite the progress represented by Kunin's three terms as governor of Vermont. Just as the election of Barack Obama as president has not abolished racism, the institutional, economic and social obstacles in the way of women still work powerfully against them 23 years after the end of Kunin's last term.
That seems like a long time ago. Young Vermonters may not appreciate the atmosphere of jubilation and near revolutionary fervor that surrounded Kunin in 1985 as she made her way into the Vermont House to be sworn in as governor for the first time. She had worked her way to a position of responsibility in the House and then had become lieutenant governor. In 1984, she was running against a capable Republican opponent, Attorney General John Easton, and it was far from assured that she would win. Ultimately, her winning margin was razor thin. -More-
The New Feminist Agenda
Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family
by Madeleine M. Kunin published APRIL 4, 2012
"In this important new book,Madeleine Kunin argues that empowering women to succed at home and at work is both good economics and good social policy. She presents a convincing roadmap for how we achieve that vision, and calls on all of us to be part of a brighter future."
— President Bill Clinton
Former Governors Panel at Old State Capitol in Springfield, IL June 3, 2010
Former governors spoke to students about state politics and offered their perspectives on how political scientists provided useful input for state and local politicians. They also responded to questions from the audience.
Twenty-five years ago, Madeleine Kunin became the first woman to be elected governor of Vermont. She addressed an anniversary symposium on March 2cnd, 2010 at UVM. You can listen to her speech here:
Pearls, Politics, & Power
How Women Can Win and Lead
by Madeleine M. Kunin
"It is time for a call to action, for new political leadership to emerge from the women of America. The stories of the women in this book and thousands of others like them who hold elective and appointiveoffices all over America are making a difference. Others work for change in their communities as volunteers, as activists. The problem is that they are too few.
We need their voices as grandmothers and mothers, wives and widows, daughters and sisters to be heard in the political debate about the future of our country. The debate may be raucous, the process complex, and the rewards not assured, but we cannot stay out of it. Each woman's experience changes the nature and content of the conversation. Politics, as Hillary Clinton said, is not for the faint of heart. But politics is where the decisions are made that determine whether our children will go to war, whether our parents will live in security, and whether Earth itself will continue as we know it.
We have been bystanders to history for too long."
ALL KINDS OF WRITING - SECOND SATURDAY MAGAZINE
April 12, 2008
“Here’s the book we’ve been waiting for—an insider’s view of the role of women in politics by one of America’s most distinguished public servants. Governor, federal executive, ambassador, Madeleine Kunin has seen it all. And her keen eye and her deep understanding of the challenge of gender in wielding power has produced a wonderfully insightful book that should be read by every woman—and man...
What will it take for women to assume their rightful places in the political corridors of power?
U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland (1996-99): During her tenure she dealt with the question of Jewish World War II assets and Nazi-looted gold. She helped to prod Switzerland to confront its past and take action. At the same time she worked to maintain a positive relationship between Switzerland and the United States, two countries that have a long-standing friendship. Her knowledge of languages and government, and her familiarity with Switzerland, the country of her birth, enabled her to be an effective ambassador.
Prior to her appointment as ambassador, she served for three and a half years as U.S. deputy secretary of education in the Clinton Administration. As chief operating officer of the department, Kunin served on the president's management council, which dealt with reinventing government.While at the U.S. Department of Education, Kunin played a key role in establishing a more efficient system of managing student loans, initiated an office of education technology, and worked on a series of legislative acts that included the Goals 2000: Educate America Act and the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Act.
Scholarship / Teaching
She is now a Marsh Scholar Professor-at-Large at the University of Vermont in Burlington. She gives guest lectures in a number of departments, including history and Women's Studies. She is teaching a seminar in Women, Politics, and Leadership.
Previously Kunin was the Bicentennial Fellow-in-Residence at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, where she lectured on a variety of subjects, including her recent experience as U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland (1996-99) as well as on education, politics, the environment, leadership and women's issues. She was a Fellow of The Institute of Politics, Kennedy School, Harvard University and a Fellow at Harvard's Bunting Institute.
She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is also a regular commentator on Vermont Public Radio.
She has received more than twenty honorary degrees.
Kunin's new book: "Pearls, Politics, and Power", available in April, is a call to political engagement from the women of America.
She is also the author of two other books, Living a Political Life, (Knopf, 1993) and The big green book: A four-season guide to Vermont, (Barre Publishers, 1976).
Policy / Action
She serves as President of the board of the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) a non-governmental organization that she founded in 1991.
Before coming to Washington, Kunin was involved in the 1992 Clinton campaign: co-chairing a national campaign of women for Clinton, serving as one of three members of a committee to assist the President in choosing his vice president, and acting as a key member of the presidential transition team.
Kunin's efforts in education, the environment, and women's issues played a large role in her rise through the political ranks of Vermont. She is the first woman to have served three terms as governor of any state and the fourth woman to be elected governor in her own right. During her tenure, she substantially increased funding for education and concentrated on improving the quality of education. One of her environmental achievements was to establish the Vermont Housing and Land Conservation Trust Fund, a program that has created affordable housing and land preservation to the benefit of thousands of Vermonters. She initiated Dr. Dynasaur, a program to provide health insurance for Vermont children.