The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Changes Everything
My mother died recently, and needless to say, I've been thinking about her a lot. Eunice Kennedy Shriver was a trailblazer for American women. She was scary smart and not afraid to show it. She didn't buy into the propaganda of her day that women had to be soft and submissive. That took courage back then, because she grew up in a family that expected a lot from the boys and very little from the girls.
My mother raised me to believe women had a unique power to change the language, tempo and character of the world. Her heroes were women: first and foremost, her own mother and the millions of other mothers of kids with intellectual disabilities — but also Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa, Clare Boothe Luce. She told me their stories because she wanted me to appreciate their impact. She encouraged me and other women to believe we had the ability to change the world.
It's been more than four decades since her brother President John F. Kennedy asked former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to chair the very first Commission on the Status of Women. The goal: to find out how much progress had been made toward giving women "practical equality with men." Anthropologist Margaret Mead, who co-edited the final report, wrote, "The climate of opinion is turning against the idea that homemaking is the only form of feminine achievement."
In the 1970s, a majority of children grew up with a stay-at-home parent; now that figure is less than a third. A large majority — 70% of men, 61% of women — believe this has had a negative effect on society. Fifty-seven percent of men and 51% of women agree that it is better for a family if the father works outside the home and the mother takes care of the children. Asked to rank what they value most for their own daughters, 63% of men and 56% of women put a happy marriage with children first; 17% of men and 23% of women said an interesting career; and 15% of men and 20% of women said financial success.
Fifty-five percent of women strongly agree that in households where both partners have jobs, women take on more responsibilities for the home and family than their male partners do; only 28% of men strongly agree. (Fifty-four percent of Latinos strongly agree, along with 52% of blacks and 38% of whites.) Sixty-nine percent of women say they are primarily responsible for taking care of their children; only 13% of men say this of themselves.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/LIVING/personal/06/25/h.keep.marriage.healthy/art.couple.jpg caption="Eighty-four percent of Americans agree (53% strongly) that businesses haven't done enough to address the needs of modern families."]
Eighty-four percent of Americans agree (53% strongly) that businesses haven't done enough to address the needs of modern families. Asked what would have to change to make it easier to balance work and marriage and children, 54% of women and 49% of men said more-flexible work hours or schedules; 15% of women and 17% of men said more paid time off; and 13% of women and 12% of men said better or more day-care options.
Three days after the world watched a giant balloon fly through the air as a tearful family expressed fears that their 6-year-old boy could be inside, authorities announced what millions suspected: The whole thing was staged.
The "Aha!" moment that led authorities to realize what had happened was an interview with the family Thursday night on CNN's "Larry King Live," Sheriff Jim Alderden of Larimer County said Sunday. In the interview with Wolf Blitzer, filling in for King, the Heenes asked their son why he had not come out from hiding when they called his name.
"You guys said we did this for the show," the boy responded.
On Sunday, Alderden called the incident a "hoax," adding that investigators believe the evidence indicates that "it was a publicity stunt" by the family in hopes of "better marketing themselves for a reality television show at some point in the future."
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/10/14/health.care/art.snowe.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Olympia Snowe, a Maine Republican, says she hopes some bipartisanship can be restored."]
Special to CNN
I started on Capitol Hill in the fall of 1989 as an intern for House Minority Leader Bob Michel. Republicans had just elected a firebrand named Newt Gingrich to be their whip. Democrats had just replaced their speaker, Jim Wright, with Tom Foley. And George H. W. Bush was settling in to his first year as president.
It was that year when the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Dan Rostenkowski, became more widely known - not for his work on tax reform and not for the corruption scandal that would later land him in jail.
He became famous for being accosted by a pack of angry senior citizens furious with the Illinois congressman for his role in passing catastrophic health care reform into law. It was legislation that sought to protect senior citizens from the financial impact of catastrophic illness, but it also increased taxes on Medicare recipients.
Interestingly, the group that staged the protest against Rostenkowski was organized by Jan Schakowsky, who would later become a prominent liberal representative and is now of one of the principal proponents of the Obama health care plan.
This was in the days before YouTube and before the rise of the ubiquitous and rival cable networks Fox News and MSNBC. Still, the footage of Rostenkowski being hunted down by rabid octogenarians and fleeing in his big Cadillac while almost running them down left an indelible impression in the minds of the congressional leadership.
In November of 1989, the Congress did what it rarely does. It repealed a law it had passed just a year before. It was as if the law never existed. It was annulled.
There are many similarities between that catastrophic health care bill and the health care reform the Democrats are attempting to put together in Congress this year.
Like the catastrophic bill, the Democrats' health care bill is well-intentioned. It attempts to deal with a problem that needs solving. Long-term health care costs are a problem. A family shouldn't have to go broke taking care of elderly parents or grandparents. Similarly, we must do something about the high costs of insurance and the health care in general.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/10/17/college.dress.code/art.bynum.cnn.jpg caption="William Bynum says he discussed the new dress-wearing ban policy with Morehouse's campus gay organization."]
David A. Love
Morehouse College, that legendary institution of higher learning in Atlanta, recently enacted a new dress code for its all-male student body. The dress code, called the "Appropriate Attire Policy", is a perfect example of the good, the bad, and even worse, the homophobic.
The policy – based on Morehouse President Dr. Robert M. Franklin's notion of the Renaissance Man – is part of his "Five Wells" strategy for the all-male historically black college or university which includes being "wMorehouse College, that legendary institution of higher learning in Atlanta, recently enacted a new dress code for its all-male student body. The dress code, called the "Appropriate Attire Policy," is a perfect example of the good, the bad, and even worse, the homophobic.
The policy – based on Morehouse President Dr. Robert M. Franklin's notion of the Renaissance Man – is part of his "Five Wells" strategy for the all-male historically black college or university which includes being "well read, well spoken, well traveled, well dressed and well balanced."
In an 11-point document, Morehouse outlined its expectations concerning the appearance of its students on campus. For example, the college forbids the wearing of do-rags, caps and hoods in classrooms and other indoor venues. Sunglasses are banned in class except for medical necessity, while "decorative orthodontic appliances," or grillz, are forbidden altogether on campus. Clothes with offensive messages are also prohibited, as are sagging pants. Students are also not allowed to wear pajamas or walk with bare feet in public.
Perhaps the most confounding, and yet revealing, part of the Morehouse rules is the ban on women's dress. "No wearing of clothing associated with women's garb (dresses, tops, tunics, purses, pumps, etc.) on the Morehouse campus or at College-sponsored events," reads the policy. Placed conspicuously at the end of the dress code, and so fundamentally different from the prohibitions that precede it, one gets the sense that in the end, the dress code is really all about that one sentence.
A statement by Dr. William Bynum, Morehouse vice president for student services, seems to support the argument. "We are talking about five students who are living a gay lifestyle that is leading them to dress a way we do not expect in Morehouse men," he said.
On one hand, I can understand that a school like Morehouse has a legacy to protect and a brand name to maintain. After all, this is the alma mater of Martin Luther King Jr., Julian Bond, Maynard Jackson, Spike Lee, and others. The value of an institution's stock rises or falls on the quality of its graduates and the leaders it produces.
Dr. Franklin described part of the Morehouse mystique Soul of Morehouse and the Future of the Mystique – abridged.pdf as "a fundamental sense of discontent with mediocrity and nonsense." In April 2009, he also told his students that "Morehouse men must be so sensitive to the presence of disorder, mediocrity and injustice that they cannot sleep well at night until they tip the scale toward justice. Unto whom much is given, much is required."
AC360° Associate Producer
Tonight we’re taking a close look at the state of women in America right now. A new study launched by Time and A Woman’s Nation (Maria Shriver’s organization) measures how much has changed for the modern American woman. By the end of the year, the majority of workers in the U.S. will be women – according to the report.
Anderson will talk to a panel of dynamic women who will focus on topics such as gender equality, relationships, parenting, economic gains and women in the workplace. Is the battle of the sexes over? And is marriage more important to men than to women? Twenty-three percent of women believe that men still have it better in life than women do; 12 percent of men strongly agree. What do you think?
We’re also following the latest out of Afghanistan today. The U.N.-backed commission charged with investigating fraud in Afghanistan's recent presidential election Monday invalidated ballots from more than 200 polling stations.However, it is still unclear if a presidential run-off will take place.
Sen. John Kerry, who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, arrived in Kabul after visiting Islamabad, Pakistan, earlier today. He’s apparently there to consult and discuss the next steps for the elections. Kerry is urging President Barack Obama not to send more troops to Afghanistan before the results of the election are clear. Do you think Kerry will help the situation?
Reporter's Note: President Obama, like every president, must wrestle with the issues of just how transparent and open a government can be. Absolute truth, in governing as in relationships, can be a difficult thing for people to handle. Take for instance, the case of Colorado’s balloon boy…
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/10/18/colorado.balloon.investigation/art.balloon.wide.cnn.jpg caption="The balloon is displayed at the sheriff's department in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Sunday. "]
Tom Foreman | BIO
Dear Mr. President,
So how about that? Authorities now believe that whole balloon boy thing was indeed a hoax! Just a couple of days ago I was writing to you about how I tend to believe people are telling the truth unless facts tell me otherwise, but now I suppose the facts suggest deeper investigation and charges are in order, at least according to the authorities.
But that “according to the authorities” part is what has me concerned. Because as part of this revelation, the sheriff’s office also says it knowingly mislead the media by saying publicly on Friday that investigators did not believe this was a hoax. They say they needed to keep the confidence of the family so that they could sew up their case against them. I respect the difficulties faced by police and prosecutors, and I think our society should support them. But the idea of them wantonly deceiving the public for a case like this seems sketchy at best…and dangerous at worst.
This was not a matter of national security, military secrets, or clandestine maneuvers against international terrorists. This was a case against a couple who liked being on Wife Swap, and had a giant Jiffy Pop container in their backyard. The sheriff could have simply made no comment. “I’m sorry, but it would be irresponsible of me to speculate until we’ve had time to thoroughly review all the facts and talk to everyone involved.” No penalty. No foul.