Women owe feminism

I have to agree that Network of Enlightened Women's mission is not new but is reminiscent of past traditional views that have impeded women from attaining social freedoms [August 25: "NeW not NOW: Lady Hoo takes on the Left"]. NeW is explained as an outgrowth of the religious right. The institutions that the religious right currently influence are systematically pulling women's rights backward: abstinence-only education endangers women's health, and the proposed ban on women in military combat limits opportunity for promotion.

Agness's attacks on UVA's Studies in Women and Gender program are unfounded. The SWAG program overview states the simple mission for students to "develop a fuller understanding of their options as human beings" without being limited by gender stereotypes. This goal is shared by many of UVA's student organizations.

Agness describes NeW as the first club focused on the concerns of conservative women. However, there are several other student groups at UVA (NOW, AWAKE, VOX, etc.) that specifically address women's issues by actively working to expand women's life options. These groups do not encourage careerism nor promote single-parent families, as Agness may believe, but advocate the freedom of options; they believe women should have access to any job if they choose to work, and maintain that alternative family arrangements are as acceptable as traditional.

The National Organization of Women, which NeW seems to oppose outright, lists its priorities as guaranteeing equal rights for women, achieving economic equality, championing women's health issues, and ending violence against women. These are important issues women face, beyond the challenge of balancing work and family, and they concern women of all political affiliations.

Supporters of NeW claim that groups such as NOW do not speak for all women, but they do fight for the rights of all women so that each has the opportunity to decide her life for herself.

Amy Johnson