Women Call State Caucus

An ad hoc group of women plans to convene the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus, an off-shoot of the National Women's Political Caucus formed in July.

The caucus--scheduled for November 19 and 20 at Boston College--will include a panel discussion on women's role in politics, workshops on specific feminist issues and on political methods, and decisions on structure and policies of the caucus.

The state caucus, like the national one, will be devoted both to increasing women's political involvement and to working for daycare, abortion reform, and other specific goals within the political process. Its purposes and policies remain purposely vague in order to attract as broad a range of women as possible.

The national caucus has lobbied for day care in Congress, requested Nixon to appoint a woman to the Supreme Court, and demanded equal representation at the national party conventions. It has reached beyond specific women's issues to broader questions of racism, violence, and poverty.

"If women and minorities ever got together on issues and on their own tragic under-representation in our political system, this country would never be the same," said Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (D-N.Y.), an organizer, of the national caucus.

Doris H. Kearns assistant professor of Government, will offer a workshop on "The Uses and Abuses of Power." "We must insure that we don't get involved in the same processes we criticize men for," Kearns said. "It wouldn't be enough to achieve ends like day care and abortion reform through means that violate human qualities we all believe in."

"One of the things that is most devastating in politics is the extent to which male political leaders have let their public work take over their whole lives, so that they have no sense of themselves, no private perspective to bring to public problems. The stereotype of women is that they have only private lives. Men as well as women need balance in their lives," Kearns said.

Involving women in the political process is as important as voting for male candidates who support women's issues, Kearns said. "We can't depend on ideals and altruism to keep men devoted to women's issues. Women must have a power base so that men must respond."

Organizing women into a bloc voting only on the basis of women's issues would be very difficult, Kearns said. Many women would vote for a male liberal rather than a female racist, for example. But women could be organized to vote for a woman candidate, other things being equal.

About a dozen state caucuses have met already, and about a dozen more will meet by January, according to the organizers of the Massachusetts caucus The autonomy of the state caucus is an issue that will be decided at this month's meeting.